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Michigan Brown Trout Festival founders share stories from the beginning

Brown Trout founders Jack McCoy and Jim Bouldrey share stories on the start of the festival.

ALPENA, Mich. — The 45th Michigan Brown Trout Festival is the longest running fishing tournament in the Great Lakes. Thanks to men like Jim Boldrey, Jack McCoy, Don Bartosh, Lanny Kingsbury (deceased) and Chuck Schiefele (deceased) the festival brought in anglers and more to enjoy the great fisheries Alpena has to offer. Thunder Bay used to be one of the few locations fishermen could reel in a brown trout, which was needed for their DNR Master Angler Award.

Stories from McCoy and Boldrey go back to creating the first t-shirt design on a napkin, to making the rules and deciding to charge $2 per boat for the first tournament. They learned a lot from year one when they lost money on buttons and food, and thanks to service organizations the tournament has reached 45 years. These spirited community members used to bring down a coffee pot from home, the only beverage at the festival, and kick in money to pay the winners. Remembering to get the insurance policy for Big Brownie was sometimes a struggle and running daily to Flint to restock shirts was a big trip. All of this was worth it to help put Alpena on the map for out of town fishermen.