"What's radar spelled backwards?" Summer Solstice asked Capt. Jim Vivian III as he pulled the sleek 40-foot Chris Craft Roamer away from the Copper Harbor Marina at 5:45 a.m., immediately disappearing into fog thick enough to hide a 1,000-foot lake freighter. Her question was well-founded: You couldn't see a thing except the green glow of the radar screen as we idled cautiously down the harbor and felt the welcoming slap of Lake Superior waves against the hull. We were enveloped, even the lighthouse was shrouded. The only sound was the foghorn.
"The technical expression is fog so thick you can't find your butt with both hands," joked Summer, the tournament namesake and fashion model turned WW&W meteorological correspondent, slapping her capri pants. It's what Yoopers call "tick fog."
I've always enjoyed fishing in the fog and do some of my best writing that way.
The Labatt Blue Longest Day Tournament was underway. While the surrogate Equinox Fishing Team, Jim Vivian III, first mate Marci Vivian, Jim Vivian II, Mike McMahon, Jerry Hall, David Maki and Ray Chase rigged the outriggers, downriggers, dipsy-divers and surface lines in the fog, Summer and I commandeered the galley and got busy. She put the coffee going, mixing a pitcher of mimosa while she was at it, and I sliced up watermelon and peeled hardboiled eggs, makara and smoked fish for breakfast.
Before we finished, they were netting their first fish over the stern and sending the lucky Michigan Stinger flasher and fly back down in the 48-degree depths to do it again, which it did willfully, wantonly and repeatedly. Before long, several nice lakers were slapping around in the box, but not enough to finish in the money.
Meanwhile, back on shore, Don Kauppi and the hard-working Longest Day crew, Jake Anderson, Dan Kauppi, Peg Kauppi, Jeff Coltas, Kelly Coltas, Red Twardzik, Vici Burrows, Laura Anderson, Janet Barnes, Jack Smith, Pink Floyd Kaiser and Mike Sweney were taking care of business, putting your ubiquitous WW&W wildlife correspondents Fanny Hooe, Paris Hiltunen, Dolly Partanen, Sarah Palinen and Sandy Bottom to work as unofficial weighmasters and eye candy at satellite fishing venues Eagle Harbor, Lac la Belle and Lake Fanny Hooe.
Fishing tournaments are competitive by nature, but in a friendly way, and are often won or lost by a whisker. It's not a game of inches like tennis, golf and horseshoes, it's a game of fractions of an inch and ounce. Or centimeters and grams if you swing from the metric side of the plate.
The tournament lured 238 anglers. Trout and Walleye categories paid out $500, $300, $150, $75, and $50 for first-fifth places with an additional $125 for total team weight. Splake paid $300 first and $100 second. First- and second-place salmon won $150 and $50 respectively; biggest perch and smallmouth each paid $50.
D.J. Kaura won the drawing for the Grand Prize 17-foot Princecraft bass boat, 115 hp Mercury outboard and trailer.
In the Trout Division, Bill Hyrkas and Team 171 won biggest fish honors with a 19.9-pound, 35.5-inch laker. Al Provost and Team 169 came in a close second with a 19.8-pound 37-1/2-inch fish. Gerry Lucier won biggest fish and total weight in the Catch & Release Walleye Category on Lac la Belle. Anglers finishing in the money were:
1. Bill Hyrkas, Team 171, 19.9 lbs, 35.5 inches
2. Al Provost, Team 169, 19.8 lbs, 37.5 inches
3. Jesse Sohlden, Team 180, 16.4 lbs, 32.5 inches
4. Team 128, 13.35 lbs, 32.5 inches
5. ME Rozman, Team 151, 12.8 lbs, 32 inches
Total Weight Award, Jesse Sohlden, Team 180, 94.1 pounds, 31.36 per team member, $125
1. Gerry Lucier, Team 105, 8.55 lbs, 28.75 inches
2. Buster Roberts, Team 148, 7.7 lbs, 26 inches
3. Gar Heikkinen, Team 107, 6.35 lbs, 25.25 inches
4. Sam Ouelette, Team 114, 3.9 lbs, 23.75 inches
5. Team 190, 3.7 lbs, 22.5 inches
Total Weight Award, Gerry Lucier, Team 105, 18.2 lbs, $125
1. Joe Caron, Team 118, 7.05 lbs, 25 inches
2. Dan Fosner, Team 101, 5.45 lbs, 24.5 inches
1. Glenn Rowe, Team 159, 4.15 lbs, 22 inches
2. Greg Kingstrom, Team 126, 3.6 lbs, 23 inches
1, Michael Harter, Team 168, 0.5 lbs, 11 inches
1. Daryl Mace, Team 139, 4.8 lbs, 19.5 inches
Longest Day officials request a moment of silence and a round of applause for all the fish who bit the big one to make the 17th annual tournament a success.
WW&W Fishing Tournament Calendar:
Saturday, June 27, 7th Annual KBIC Kids Fishing Derby, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Ojibwa Recreation Area, Sand Point Pond, off US 41, Baraga, between Pines Gas Station and M-38 Junction. Fishing, food and fun for kids 4-12. For more information, call KBIC Natural Resources, 906-524-5757.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.