Winter Kayak Fishing for Brown Trout – The monsters of Milwaukee Harbor

The monsters of Milwaukee Harbor

These are legitimate fish of the frozen fingers. YouTube frame capture, BrookField Angler.
These are legitimate fish of the frozen fingers. YouTube frame capture, BrookField Angler.

By Mike Stevens

I was a guest on a fishing podcast a few months ago talking about trout fishing in California's Sierra Nevada. Toward the end of the show, the hosts peppered me with some quick-answer questions; one item you refuse to fish without, favorite spots, pick one lure, that kind of thing.

The last question was along the lines of which places in the world are on my trout-fishing bucket list. I hit them with some standards, then I got a little wacky and threw upstate New York and Russia in there, and they were right there with me. However, when I spat out "Milwaukee Harbor," they slammed on the brakes.

"Wait… where?"

Yes, Milwaukee. I would have had the same reaction had someone mentioned that area as a world-class trout fishery a couple years ago before my stint with Plano/Frabill. Part of my job was to work with pro staffers on securing what the marketing world refers to as digital assets and what you and I might refer to as fish porn to be shared on the company's social media accounts. One of said pro-staffers was Milwaukee-area guide Eric Haataja, and what I saw in the well-produced videos on his popular YouTube channel always left my mouth agape.

Monster, and I mean MONSTER brown trout being hauled in by Haataja and his clients on Lake Michigan's Milwaukee Harbor, many times with the Milwaukee skyline right there in the background. It's quite a bit different than the vast tundras, conifer-lined streams or peak-surrounded lakes that come to mind when trout fishing is bantered about.

Does Haataja fish from a kayak? No. But the fellas in this video do, and these guys probably cross wakes with him from time to time. Even these guys chuckle at the fact that they are going kayak fishing when it's 21 degrees out–a fact exemplified in this video when they launch in no-joke slush.

Like the Haataja videos, this one features the skyline, the cold, and a 20-pound class brown trout that would likely send me straight into trout-fishing retirement if I caught one. You know, leave the game on top. But, in Milwaukee Harbor, it's not a matter of IF a 20-plus-pound brown trout will be caught in a season, it's how many.