Wild Things: Carey Wants More Women Fishing

Charter captain third in annual Baileys Harbor trout tourney

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

A Sheboygan charter captain and founder of Wisconsin Women Fish, Barb Carey, placed third in the 35th Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament April 13-16.

“It was the only fish I caught all weekend,” Carey said. “It could have taken first place, but it lost a lot of eggs, and we didn’t bring it in right away. Rookie mistake.”

Whether Carey’s 34-inch, 21.25-pounder would have been able to surpass Ryan Younk’s 35-inch, 22.81-pound winner is open to debate. Zach Marchant’s second-place fish – a 31.75-inch, 21.64-pounder – was a more likely target had eggs not been spilling all over the boat and cooler.

But what really matters is that for the first time anyone could remember, a boat carrying nothing but women anglers fished the tournament.

(From left) Capt. Barb Carey and first mate Rikki Pardun show off a muskie that Pardun reeled in and released during the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament. Submitted.

Carey said her trophy catch took a blue crankbait in about 25 feet of water on the bay side of the peninsula. Although it was her only fish, her charter first mate and tournament fishing partner, Rikki Pardun, reeled in a walleye and a muskie. 

“We’d never fished for browns in Door County previously, but we do fish out of Sheboygan and take women out to show them how to do it,” Carey said.

After posting on social media during the tournament, she received a lot of support. 

One woman wrote, “I grew up in Door County in a family of charter-boat captains. I’ve been fishing since I was 5 years old. In my 20s, I begged my brothers to take me tournament-fishing with them. I was told women don’t fish in tournaments. 

“Some of my family and friends were fishing this tournament and asked me if my fishing group was Wisconsin Women Fish, and I was so proud to say yes! After 55 years of fishing, I was so excited to see that women do fish tournaments, and they kick *ss! I can’t thank you enough for doing what you do and starting this group.” 

Carey said she initiated the group 17 years ago when she got tired of not seeing any other women fishing.

“Once we were able to find each other, it really took off,” she said. 

More than 600 women from more than 20 states and Canada are members. 

“We do classes, clinics, and travel to destinations to target specific species,” Carey said. “We have been to Door County several times to smallmouth-bass fish.”

Carey heard about the Baileys Harbor event from John and Brenda Maier of True North Guide Service. She made a post about possibly fishing it, and Bruce Smith from The Harbor Angler reached out to her. His daughter-in-law is in the all-women fishing club.

“We had conversations about how to get more women to attend the tournament, and I made suggestions on how to possibly make some improvements,” Carey said. 

The four-day event lured 341 entrants and allowed fishing on Green Bay and Lake Michigan waters off of Door and Kewaunee counties. Revised standings show that the 25th-place fish was a healthy 15.03 pounds. Baileys 57 weighed 11 of the top 25, Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay nine and Hooked Up Tackle in Algoma five. 

Carey is looking into the possibility of either entering or – if too busy chartering at Sheboygan – promoting other area fishing contests, including the Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament July 14-23.

Learn more about the group she founded at, and follow her at

Lake Trout Netting?

Participants in the third public meeting of the Lake Michigan Lake Trout Commercial Harvest Stakeholder Group on April 18 learned that a proposed bill is being circulated to allow a limited commercial fishery for lake trout. 

Bob Wincek, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Sport Fishing Clubs, sent a letter with some talking points to sport anglers and encouraged them to contact sponsors of the potential bill, including state Sen. André Jacque.

“There’s been a lot of calls to legislators,” said Door County commercial fisherman Charlie Henriksen, who noted that there were “inaccuracies” in Wincek’s letter. “Mostly it’s sour grapes, but no credible comments about why we should not fish.”

Henriksen said they’re not asking to take more than whatever excess Department of Natural Resources models show the population could handle.

“I’ve built my whole business on local, fresh, healthy and sustainable fisheries,” Henriksen said. “Every restaurant in Door County would love to have another local fish available, and the same for the smokehouses in Door, Kewaunee and Brown counties.”

Scott Gutschow, a charter captain in Sturgeon Bay, said a legislative emergency rule to allow commercial harvest of lake trout is not the way to go about this.

“There’s zero stakeholder representation by any charters from Door County, where all the harvest will occur,” he said. “This is the biggest news for Lake Michigan in my lifetime, over 50 years.”

The group has met three times in recent months, and it will meet again May 16. Learn more at