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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

Solstice survivor struggles forth into Summer

June 25, 2010
By Jim Junttila

After all the glitter, glitz, glamour, gills and fish guts of the Longest Day Tournament, it was nice to wake up in the harbor knowing I had Summer Solstice to myself to explore the docks, piers, nooks and crannies of Copper Harbor, Fort Wilkins and Porter's Island.

Summer Solstice Sunday morning comin' down, and we still hadn't had our fill of fishing.

The fog was lifting off the water as we slipped into our float tubes and finned our way into Lake Manganese without another soul in sight except for the sandpipers and a few low swooping seagulls. By early afternoon, we'd slimed the aprons with fish from both Manganese and Lake Fanny Hooe, and snuck up on the brookies of Manganese Creek in between.

I stuck my camera into fields of wildflowers and stands of lavender lupine along Lake Medora, whistle-stopping a couple of secret spots along the Montreal River for brookies on the way to Lac la Belle. Making the most of Summer takes a lotta Solsticing around.

I get my money's worth just coming and going. No matter where you look, the Copper Country is covered with Summer's handiwork, art directed to the hilt; Elysian fields of waist-high ferns, buttercups, daisies, brown-eyed susans, poppies and wild roses. Sweet peas are just coming on.

Fishing continues to be a feast or famine preoccupation with me, but then outdoor writers aren't in it for the security. Since the Longest Day, I've fished three perfectly-good walleye lakes without seeing a walleye, but my memories and fantasies fill in the blanks and get me through the dry patches. Some days, if it wasn't for psychic income, I'd have no income at all.

But fishing through a Bete Gris sunset from 9:30-dark on a warm, windless night with the mirror surface of Lake Superior reflecting the stars seems just like just compensation. Passing the flask around the campfire later is pure bonus.

The walleye continue to pretty much ignore me. I've casted cranks, jiggled jigs with live and Gulp minnows, trolled the orange offa planer boards, and pulled spinnered crawler harnesses to the point where the bait or technique has become a verb and spawned a whole new vocabulary, as in "We spinnered 'em, crawlered 'em, cranked 'em, bottom-bounced 'em, or planer boarded 'em, but all I've done is bored 'em.

Whether you're fishing from shore or a boat, hooking up with a splake in Copper Harbor is a constant threat these days. Nobody feels more threatened than Marty Faassen, whose 35-inch 6.4 pounder won him first place and $600 in the splake category of the 18th Annual Copper Harbor Labatt Blue Longest Day fishing tournament last Saturday. Five anglers weighed in 22 pounds and 7-1/2 feet of splake. To register for the new year-round splake tournament paying $100 for the biggest splake each month, call Don Kauppi at the Mariner North, 289-4637.

An armada of 90-some boats from humble to high-tech with motley crews of 212 anglers in float tubes, kayaks, runabouts and cruisers competed. When all was weighed, measured, awarded and done, Mark Capello won the Grand Prize drawing for a 16-foot Fisher boat, Evinrude E-Tec outboard and trailer, and boy was he happy!


1. Marty Faassen, 6.4 lb, 25", $600

2. David Marx, 5 lb, 24-1/8", $450

3. Jim Oikarinen, 4.1 lb, 21-1/2", $200

4. Kyle Jarve, 3.65 lb, 22", $75

5. Mark Panijan, 2.15 lb, 18-1/4", $50

Lake Trout

1. Greg Kingstrom, 21.6 lb, 38-1/2", $500

2. Brian Abramson, 15.85 lb, 32", $300

3. Ron Ekdahl, 13.85 lb, 32", $150

4. Dennis Salbashian, 9.2 lb, 30-1/2", $75

5. Ashley Bracco, 8.7 lb, 32-1/2", $50

-Total Weight, Ron Ekdahl, 69.7 lb (23.23 lb/team member), $100


1. Jerry Thomas, 6.2 lb, 27", $500

2. Clovis Fortin, 5.5 lb, 25", $300

3. Patrick Dwyor, 4.55 lb, 24", $150

4. Gerald Lucier, 4.35 lb, 23", $75

5-6. Tie, J.R. Baker and Eric Harjak, 4.5 lb, 23-1/2", $50 each

-Total Weight, Brent Leonard, 20.64 lb (10.32 lb/team member, $100

Steve Erbisch caught the biggest smallmouth bass, 3.6 lb, 19 inches; Pete Marx had the largest salmon, 6.55 lb, 27-1/4 inches; Aaron Gagnon, largest perch. All three fish paid $50 each.

WW&W Summer Outdoor Calendar: Saturday, 8th Annual KBIC Kids Fishing Derby, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Ojibwa Recreation Area, Sand Point Pond, near the lighthouse off US-41, Baraga, between The Pines Gas Station and M-38 Junction. Fishing, food, fun, games and prizes for kids 4-12. For more information or to make a prize donation, call KBIC Natural Resources, 906-524-5757, ext 12 or 16.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at



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