Anglers flock to L’Anse festival

L’ANSE – Fishermen worldwide and most Yooper anglers know that fishing tournaments run on beer, and the 10th Annual Keweenaw Bay Classic, the fishiest part of the Baraga County Lake Trout Festival at L’Anse Waterfront Park last Saturday was no exception.

It’s easy to find the weigh-in stage, just look for the big Bud truck.

The K-Bay Classic is an exceptional tournament, even in the rain and cold. “It was Ice Armor weather on the water for our 132 boats and 424 intrepid fishermen and women,” said Steve Koski, Indian Country Sports (524-6518). “The Classic attracts anglers from throughout the U.P., downstate, and as far south as Green Bay.”

Four-hundred twenty-four anglers paid $15,115 in entry fees. Both lake trout and salmon categories pay cash awards from $1500 to $100 for 15 places, and lucky fishermen win merchandise and door prizes galore.

“We’ve been the biggest fishing tournament in the U.P. for a while,” said official scorekeeper Brandy Demarais, “then we did our homework and Googled it,” she added, “and as far as we can see, we’re now the biggest in Michigan.”

Temperatures dropped like a downrigger ball from the 60s to the mid 40s as anglers weighed in their fish in the rain. “After all was said and done, we went home and set the sauna on 200 to thaw out,” Koski smiled warmly.

“The Classic is not only the biggest in participating anglers, boats and payout, but in fishable waters as well, with boundaries running from L’Anse to the Big Bay Lighthouse and Gay stack,” he pointed out.

Biggest fish in the tourney was a 16-pound laker caught by Lyberg & Lyberg, who weighed in five fish and 52 pounds to finish first in the lake trout division. Bad Habit won the salmon category with a 17.2-pound catch. Hammer Time hammered the biggest king, an 8.15-pounder. Most anglers were pretty tight-lipped about what lures they used, not revealing more than either spoons or crankbaits.

When I asked where they caught their fish, they said “In the mouth, in the water,” the kinda hot tips and inside information I get paid the big bucks for passing along.

There are some geppumeisters out there too, mining monster denizens of the deep at 250 feet. Some nice browns and splake get caught but to no monetary gain, the Classic is lake trout and salmon-only.

“Anglers pre-fishing the tourney a couple days ago caught a lunker 38-pound laker and a 17-pounder out around the Huron Islands, both of which would have won the tourney,” Koski added, “but that was then and this is now.”

The Classic features fish bigger than some of the contestants in the Little Miss Superior Pageant, right next to the weigh-in stage, in the shadow of the beer truck.

If you ask me, they oughta give an award for most creative team names.