"There's always something fishy going on in Ontonagon," said WWandW senior fishing correspondent Ed Wetalainen, "but the Lake Trout Classic last weekend was even fishier than usual."
How fishy was it? Fishy enough to feed the multitudes with two big-time fish fries and raise a buncha money for the Ontonagon County Cancer Association. There were 58 boats and 116 fishermen in the tournament, even a guy named Rick Salmon.
As foretold in last week's column, the event was every bit as bacchanalian as anticipated, even better. We discussed the differences between bacchanalia and baccalaureate, and how easy it is to confuse any words with that many syllables. I wonder what percentage of class of 2010 high school graduates know what they mean? Yet they're going through both with precious little experience in either, living proof that life is wasted on the young.
At 5:30 a.m., water and air temps were tied at 50 as Jimmy Johnson slipped his classic 38-inch 1967 Chris Craft Commander into the gentle swells of Lake Superior. Coffee perked in the galley as Jimmy and Denny Forslund set lines in rare conditions for the Classic; calm and warm. It was the first time ever I didn't wear long johns for the event. Powered by twin 454 Chevy Crusaders, the Jolly Roger gets up on the step and skates, cruising at 21 mph and idling down to one mph to troll Finn Spoons and Silver Streaks off downriggers and planer boards.
The only thing I like better than watching a planer board go backwards is to see it go under, flag and all.
It was eerily calm; anglers from Misery Bay to the Porkies reported birds, bats, bugs, bumblebees, hornets, wasps and hummingbirds out on the lake. An arctic tern perched on the bow rail like a hood ornament.
2010 Ontonagon Lake Trout Derby results
Ladies Powder Puff Derby
1. Pam Niemi and Candy Graff, 30.14 pounds
2. Pam and Kayla Karttunen, 29.8
3. Amber Luokka and Melissa Lorendo, 20.14
4. Stephanie and Barb Yanke, 18.2
5. Amanda and Paige Kemppainen, 16.8
6. Celeste Marks and Connie Marley, 16.8
7. Pam Coey and Carrie Solberg, 13
8. Kelly Hill and Lisa Kaarto, 12
9. Ann Colgin and Kandy Tanger, 10
10. Toni Applekamp and Judy Niskkanen, 7.9
-Connie Marley, Ladies' largest salmon, 8 pounds
Lake Trout Classic
1. Steve Solberg and Derrick Guzek, 38.79 pounds
2. Derek Zimmer and Chris Ross, 37.37
3. Bill and Fred Lundberg, 37
4. Dan Greig and Shannon Grugel, 36.98
5. Dale Karttunen and Dan Lutz, 35.91
6. Dennis Almli and Jack Lundgren, 35.80
7. Joe Wellman and Rick Salmon, 35.39
8. Josh Drew and Jeremy Raymond, 33.86
Steve Solberg, Lake trout, 17.76 pounds
Jimmy Johnson, Chinook, 7.12
Paul Luokka, Coho, 5.51
Willie Stipanovich, Steelhead, 7.55
Shannon Grugel, Ladies largest lake trout, 13.72
Any mariner or fisherman who has sailed, cruised or fished Lake Superior will tell you that no two days are alike on the lake, and sure enough, Sunday was a different story; Sunny and windy with 4-5-foot seas and whitecaps. Aboard the Finn Spoon, a 28-foot Flybridge Carver with Chris and Kelly Hill, crazed king salmon jumped in the troughs between waves and hit spin and glows behind flashers. Small boat anglers got wet, big boats rocked and rolled, and boat control was a challenge, but a lotta fish went into the box, onto the board, then into the olive oil. Temperatures were pushing 90 at the weigh-ins and fish were weighed quick to keep from baking on the scales.
Ontonagonens do know how to fish, party and eat better than good, and encourage visitors to do the same. Between the Friday night captains' meeting and fish fry at the Shamrock and the BBQ and fish fry Saturday night at the Rec Center, it was a bacchanalian banquet of whitefish, lake trout, salmon, redskins, corn on the cob, baked beans, brisket, chicken, and desserts. If you went home hungry or thirsty, it was your own fault; A friendly tap or an ice chest fulla cold Yooper hospitality were close at hand.
"You can't have a decent bacchanalia without beer," said media host Jarv Jarvey at the Dry Dock. "You don't hear people say that about baccalaureate."
Next stop on the Copper Country fishing tournament trail is June 5, with the 9th Annual Knights of Columbus Walleye and Pike Tournament on Lac la Belle, Torch and Portage Lakes. Rules and registration meeting 7 p.m., June 4, Lake Linden Park Pavillion. 1st place each category, $1000; 2nd; $500, 3rd; 200, tagged fish $1000 each, $45 per angler entry fee. For info, call Mark Ozanich 296-0139, lakelinden.net/kofcfishing.
Two tournaments are scheduled June 12-13 during Michigan Free Fishing Weekend when no fishing license is required.
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.
Sunday, June 13, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., 37th Annual Lake Linden-Hubbell Sportsmen's Association Rice Lake Fishing Derby, $1500 in fishing prizes, two tagged fish worth $200 each, dime raffles with $5000 in prizes; food. Refreshments and family fun, registration, adults $5, kids $3, llhsa.org.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.