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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

Longest day spawns tallest tales

June 11, 2010
By Jim Junttila

"So do you mind telling me what you caught that big 10-pound walleye on then?" asked WW&W senior fishing correspondent Ed Wetalainen.

"A hook," replied the angler.

"Where'd you catch him?"

"In the mouth."

"Could you be a little more specific?" Ed pressed.

"In the lake."

Fishermen are notoriously tight-lipped. They start out honest, but they get over it. They aren't known for telling the truth, nor revealing their secrets, as indicated in the above conversation where three direct questions and answers yielded less information then he had going in; that the fish had been caught "with a hook, in the mouth, in the lake."

If you've spent much time fishing or hanging around fishermen, chances are you've noticed that most conversations end with "and I'm not bull-@#*(&@ you neither." The more competitive the tournament and the bigger the purse, the more magnified the misinformation.

Two local family festivals and tournaments run tomorrow and Sunday during Michigan's Free Fishing Weekend at Rice Lake and L'Anse, but the grand daddy of them all is the venerable Longest Day Tournament, celebrating splake and Summer Solstice.

The 18th Annual Copper Harbor Labatt Blue Longest Day Tournament, June 19, is named for Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year when the bite reaches its height among the bugs and the fishes. Past events have lured 250-275 anglers and more than 100 boats.

The four-venue event includes Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Lac la Belle and Lake Fanny Hooe, with fishing from 6 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19. Things kick off Friday, June 18, 6-9 p.m., with the popular angler registration and bilingual Keweenaw Fish Boil (Gala Mojakka and olut) at the Copper Harbor Community Center.

Fishing teams consist of 1-4 anglers per boat: One person team, $40; 2-person team, $35 per person; 3-4 person teams, $30 per person. Official weigh-ins are at the Gas Lite General Store, $3,800 in cash prizes will be presented at the awards celebration, 8 p.m. at the Mariner North with live music to follow. All who register qualify to win the Grand Prize, a 16-foot Fisher boat, new Evinrude E-Tec Outboard and trailer and you must be present to win.

A successful MDNRE stocking program has created a burgeoning splake sportfishery in Copper Harbor, with fish spilling over toward Eagle Harbor and around the tip to Bete Gris and Lac la Belle.

"It's the kinda tournament where you can catch the winning splake off the dock," said tournament namesake Summer Solstice. "It takes the longest day of the year to fit in all the fishing and fun."

A brief scuffle between a seagull and a local Finlander fighting over a smelt that washed up on the beach added a touch of ethnic humor to last year's proceedings.

Tournament officials Pink Floyd Kaiser and Mike Sweney will supervise the event. New regs this year include a 5-mile offshore limit with air, sea, and Google Earth surveillance to keep guys with big fast boats from boogeying to Isle Royale and Stannard Rock and other fishy shenanigans.

"This year we beefed up the Billy Lehtinen Memorial Splake Division to $600 first place," said tournament organizer Don Kauppi. "Second place pays $450, third $200, fourth $75, and fifth $50. First place trout and walleye both pay $500, second $300, third $150, fourth $75, fifth $50. Largest perch, smallmouth and salmon win $50 each."

"To help support continued plantings as an economic boost to Copper Harbor and the Keweenaw, we're kicking off an on-going year-round splake tournament with the Longest Day," said Don Kauppi. "Pay a one-time registration fee of $10 at the Gas Lite General Store, then register the splake you catch thereafter. Every month for a year, the largest splake wins $100. For more info, call Kauppi, 289-4637.

"The Longest Day Tournament promotes sportfishing and tourism for Copper Harbor and the Keweenaw," said Kauppi. "Funds raised are used to assist with area lake and stream improvement, and continued splake plantings."

For more information on Copper Harbor and the Longest Day Fishing Tournament, visit, or Mariner North,, or call 289-4637.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at



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