L'ANSE - While Saturday's Lake Trout Festival is filled with family fun all day Saturday, the biggest reason for the season is celebrating Baraga County's claim to fame: The Lake Trout Capital of the Midwest.
To show off that title, Saturday morning boaters will hit Keweenaw Bay for the fifth annual Keweenaw Bay Classic Fishing Tournament.
"This is a big tournament, we have 80 boats registered now and we'll probably hit 100 before Friday's organizational meeting," said Steve Koski, the event's organizer. "We have a lot of participation and people just love it."
Team Osprey poses with the winners' and biggest fish trophies in the lake trout division of the 2009 Keweenaw Bay Classic after the weigh-in at the L'Anse waterfront. They are, from left, Loren Almli, Jack Lundgren and Dennis Almli, all of Baraga (DMG photo by Brandon Veale).
The tournament features two classes; lake trout and salmon, and has one unique bit to it that keeps people coming back.
"It's 100 percent pay-out, every dime of money paid in goes out as prizes along with several thousands of dollars worth of door prizes," Koski said. "The cash is spread equally between both categories and we pay down to 10 places, so one out of 10 boats will win."
Fisherman are allowed to go out in boats with two to four men, but only five fish per boat per category can be weighed in. Fishing begins at 5 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., with weigh-in ending at 6.
"Everything is then moved over to the band shell in L'Anse where we announce the winners and give away all the prizes," Koski said.
Aside from the tournament, the Lake Trout Festival will have a plethora of events going on in downtown L'Anse, including kids' games, a half-marathon, live music, food and it all culminates with a street dance at 9 p.m. Saturday.
"There's a lot of stuff going on down here," Koski said. "We'll have several thousand people here playing on the shore."
Koski said the title of Lake Trout Capital was recently designated to Baraga County after surveys showed a higher population of lake trout in Baraga County than in any other part of the Great Lakes.
"As proof of our abundance, as of April 1 the lake trout limit went up from three to five per day per person," Koski said.
For more information, including tournament rules and registration information, visit laketroutfestival.com.
Michael H. Babcock can be reached at mbabcock@mininggazette. com.