By Pete Wurdock

The Pine Stump Cook Shack and Saloon Style Drinkery will be sponsoring and hosting their second annual trout fishing tournament starting April 30. This event is also sponsored by Bells Brewery and their sister company, Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba.

The Trout Camp party kicks off at Pine Stump Junction, 23583 County Road 407 on Friday, April 29 from 4-9 p.m.  Everyone is welcome! Representatives from Bells and Upper Hand will be on hand with giveaways and Pine Stump will debut of two of their new products on tap.

The official opening day for the 2022 trout season is Saturday, April 30. The Pine Stump tournament runs until 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Everyone is welcome to participate.

The winners will be determined by the longest fish in two categories: Steelhead and Brook Trout. The fish must have been taken in natural bodies of water in Luce County.

Through the tournament, fishermen are asked to bring their best catch to the official check-in station at Pine Stump to be recorded. Fish must meet the minimum size requirements as determined by the State of Michigan. More than one entry per person is permitted.

“These fishermen will be fishing the Two Hearted and the Dawson and there’s a few that will fish some of the little feeder streams that they’ll never tell anybody about,” said Rob Stein, owner of Pine Stump.

Last year’s champions in this contest are Jeff Rahilly, who caught a 29 7/8 inch Steelhead last year, and his buddy, Rick Bertsch, who caught a 17-inch brook trout at secret fishing spots.

“They’re the defending champs, so I think they’ll be hitting it hard again this year,” Stein added.

As of press time, the only possible hindrance was the amount of snow still on the roads making access to the river tricky in spots. After a significant amount of snowfall this winter, the rivers will likely all be running high.

If any nervous fisherman can’t make it to their trout camp, Rob said they are welcome to belly up at Pine Stump and share their best fishing stories with a Bells or Upper Hand beverage and share stories about the one that got away.

Why trout fishing? A fisherman develops a unique relationship with moving water. It is one part sport, one part nature, and one part himself—the perfect mixture for a well-balanced life. To understand trout fishing is to understand life.

The rivers are teaming with trout that come in all shapes and sizes. But which one to catch and which one to eat? This matter has is the subject of heated debates. Trout fisherman will cheerfully agree to disagree, while often reaching the universal conclusion that trout are an enigma and trout fishing is something to be enjoyed in abundance.

I hold a strong belief that a brook trout is the prettiest fish of all the trout family. A brookie has a fanned yellow and black top fin, a snow-white belly with cream-colored worm tracks on the gold of its back, and precisely arranged yellow and red spots on its side. All of this is encircled by a baby-blue halo which is enough proof to me that it is God’s favorite fish.

Be safe and good luck to this year’s fisherman. Follow the Newberry News and check back in the May 11 issue, when this year’s winners will be announced.