ALPENA - A new team of three became the champions of the Brown Trout Festival on Sunday, catching "Big Brownie," the 9.70-pound brown trout.
"We caught it around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday while we were just five miles out. The water was really rough, we saw six-foot waves and 20 mph winds," Richard Hubert said. " We were just hanging out, and all of a sudden I got a bite."
He said the team felt the weight of the fish while reeling it in, thinking it may have been a catfish, not knowing it would be an award-winning brown trout.
News Photo by Emily Siegmon
A team of three, left to right, Bobby Kowalski, Richard Hubert and Captain Steve Hubert, wins the $3,000 prize for the 9.70-pound brown trout that was caught on Thursday at the Brown Trout Festival.
"It was really a team effort, it takes everyone to run and clear the rods," Captain Steve Hubert said. "It was the longest three days of my life."
While the team was proud to win, they also admitted it took a lot of hard work and dedication to win the tournament's $3,000 prize for the largest brown trout.
Many fishermen and spectators also celebrated the end of the festival, and winners of all ages and fishing experiences collected awards for different categories.
1. Rich Hubert 9.70
2. Brian Nowland 9.60
3. Dave Sommerfeld 8.95
4. Greg Idalski 8.60
5. Matt Beauchamp 8.55
1. Martin Skiba 6.75
2. Nick Gabara 6.45
3. Bruce Kirschner 6.25
4. Dean Miller 6.20
5. Andrei Sawruk 5.95
1. Rod Lewandowski 9.70
2. Phil Smigelski 9.65
3. Joe Hauff 9.40
4. Eric Skaluba 8.90
5. James Gunderson 8.60
1. Rich Wooll 18.00
2. John Hoos 17.60
3. Jason Rensberry 17.20
4. Keith Misiak 15.95
5. Ryan Misiak 15.40
1. Jason Witkowski 18.90
2. Eric Kruczynski 18.85
3. Martin Skiba 16.80
4. Don Laird 16.80
5. Brad Skiba 16.10
1. Martin Skiba 126.90
2. Kris Werda 117.95
3. Phil Smigelski 117.60
4. Ken Dragiewicz 116.60
5. Ronald Boboltz 113.45
1. Noah Skiba, 11.90
2. Skylar Skiba, 11.80
1. Rob Golding, Alpena - New Holland Rustler UTV
2. Art Samp, Alpena - $2,000
3. Kevin Wickersham, Rogers City - $1,000
"We had a team of five people this year. We won different prizes in the past too, but we're not concerned about the money. We do it for the fun of it," Joe Hauff said.
This year, Hauff and his team won awards in two different categories including fifth place for salmon and third in steelhead.
"This tournament is always a surprise, you go out, hope, and give it your best. We worked hard and fished for big fish in every category while waiting to hook one that will place," Hauff said.
The team of five also included a first-time fisher Kailea Hauff who said the tournament was fun and a good learning experience.
"I learned a lot about fishing. I helped with everything, I'm definitely going to do it again next year," Kailea Hauff said.
According to Joe Hauff, the team has been fishing in the tournament for the past six years and plans on continuing the tradition in the future.
Dick Cadarette, assistant tournament director, said this year's tournament was a success with increases in almost every category.
"We were only down a couple days because of wind, but this tournament was great. Fishermen have brought back more fish, tripling the amount of brown trout caught and doubling the amount of walleye," Cadarette said.
Festival Secretary Beth Pelkey also said fishermen brought in significantly more fish in comparison to last year, including heavier salmon and more brown trout being weighed in.
"They do a wonderful job here. It's not just a tournament, it's a festival. There's so much to do, and it brings a lot of people together and money back into our community," Joe Hauff said.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687.