No doubt about it, there are record fish in Big Green.

But, with pun intended, there’s a catch. Laying claim to one of those coveted records may be up for debate, depending on who you ask.

Either way, they all make for good stories. And the owner of North Bay Sport & Liquor in downtown Green Lake has heard almost everything. Not only does Joel Baranowski see anglers enter his shop every day — and his job requires him to shoot the breeze about what’s biting — but he’s got something unique:

A leader board.

It’s a small, framed placard hanging near the live minnow tanks. This is written proof of some of the luckiest fishermen around, featuring the dozen or so game fish common in the state’s deepest lake, and the person who caught the biggest one. Basically, it’s a list of records.

But ... it’s just the fish that have been caught on Big Green and weighed at North Bay. That means they’re unofficial records.

Store records, as it were. And that’s exactly what makes them interesting.

Baranowski acknowledges the board encompasses just the modern time — about the past quarter-century.

“I think I put that up in 1987, when we moved down here from the other store,” he said. “Before that, there definitely were fish caught [that would have been bigger]. I remember a 27-pound northern that we weighed years before that.”

North Bay’s current northern record is 23.9 pounds.

He remembers several fish through the years that were either caught before the board went up, or caught but never brought in to be weighed. So, lucky fishermen may have broken the North Bay record here or there, but they’ll never be recognized.

Unfortunate? Perhaps, but the board is mostly for yucks.

“It’s just kind of a fun thing to do ... People are curious,” Baranowski said.

He remembers every fish’s story up on that board ... Continue reading the full story in the July 9 issue of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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