A few columns ago, I talked about rip-rap and riff-raff and how it's good to know the difference. The vocabulary lesson continues, except with bigger words, brought to you by the Ontonagon Lake Trout Classic and the word bacchanalia, underway even as we speak.
Covering this gala event for the past five years or so, Ontonagon has taught me the true meaning of bacchanalian, Yooper style. For a hard-luck town with a high unemployment rate, these people know how to fish, party hardy, eat better than good, and encourage others to do likewise.
I have been seduced by their Yooper hospitality in the past, and I'm going back for more; not just to cover the event, but to partake in it; not as a fisherman but as the working outdoor press and a willing bacchanal.
"You said that as if you thought being a writer and bacchanal are two different things," said attentive WW&W wildlife correspondent Paris Hiltunen. "Anybody who has been to this shindig in Ontonagon knows they are professional partiers over there. This is no ordinary tournament, it's a bit more bacchanalian, which is different than baccalaureate, which north end locals call backa Laurium."
"I prefer bacchanalia to baccalaureate any day," she added, "look it up."
She's right as usual. The weekend-long shindig features a community fundraiser BBQ and fish fry on Saturday, benefiting the Ontonagon County Cancer Association. If you're looking for me, I'll be operating outa the venerable WW&W Ontonagon Bureau, the Dry Dock downtown. Just ask for Jarv. Paris, Dolly Vardenen and Ed Wetalainen will be setting up shop there, too.
"There are a lotta ways to wetta line," said WW&W senior fishing correspondent Ed Wetalainen, "and these guys do it all; downrigginen, outrigginen, dipsy-divinen, bobbinen, trollinen, strollinen, long-lininen, and planer boardinen,"
"Have you ever been scumlinin' with a Suomalainen?" he asked.
It's how they catch the money fish they catch. Last year, Dan Greig & Matt Haynes took first place with a 36.89-pound catch; Chris & Kelly Hill caught the largest lake trout, 13.39 pounds; Fred Lundberg, biggest brown, 8.78; Jeff Bobula, largest king, 5.96; Tom Picotte, largest coho, 4.63; John Niskkanen, largest steelhead, 2.95 pounds.
Pam and Cayla Karttunen won last year's ladies only Powder Puff Derby; Ann Colgin caught the largest lake trout, 4.74 pounds. For complete results, tournament purse, and more information, visit greigstackleshop.com.
I have to get to the marina early to shoot the Ladies Powder Puff weigh-in at 1 p.m. today; and there are photo-ops, whistle stops and lines to wet along the way. Then I'm on my own recognizance until the Captains meeting and registration at 6, then again until 5:30 a.m., when I board the Jolly Roger with Capt. Jimmy Johnson and Denny Forsberg for the dawn shift on Lake Superior.
"I'm looking forward to the BBQ and fish fry on Saturday evening, followed by the impromptu, on-going bacchanalia with a capital B," Hiltunen said enthusiastically. "Then back out on the lake at 5:30 Sunday morning, the weigh-ins Sunday afternoon, and all those fishermen keep a working girl on her toes," she said, packing her highest heels. "They're the best bait ever," she tipped," both lure and allure."
The Ontonagon Lake Trout Classic kicks off the Yooper summer fishing tournament season with several scheduled June 12-13 during Michigan Free Fishing Weekend, when no fishing license is required. To publicize your tournament or outdoors event, send info to email@example.com.
Saturday, June 5, 9th Annual Knights of Columbus Walleye & Pike Tournament on Lac la Belle, Torch and Portage Lakes. Rules and registration meeting 7 p.m., Friday, June 4, Lake Linden Park Pavillion. 1st place each category, $1,000; 2nd $500, 3rd 200, tagged fish $1000 each, $45 per angler entry fee. Mark Ozanich 296-0139, lakelinden.net/kofcfishing.
Friday-Saturday, June 11-12: Fifth Annual Baraga County Lake Trout Festival and Keweenaw Bay Fishing Tournament, L'Anse Waterfront Park. Free admission; food, fun and entertainment for the whole family, beach volleyball, cribbage tournament, rummage sale, live music and dancing, kids carnival, laketroutfestival.com. For fishing tournament info, call Steve Koski, Indian Country Sports, 524-6518.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.