"I don't care what they say about an ill wind blowing no good," WW&W senior fishing correspondent Ed Wetelainen huffed and puffed. "The high winds and waves this week warmed the water all the way up to 50 degrees, waking the fish up from their winter doldrums and putting them in a biting mood just in time for local fishing tournaments."
Nobody knows more about wettin' a line than Ed Wetalainen, who fishes all the tournaments, usually finishing in the raha.
Keweenaw tournaments taunt and tempt anglers fishcally and fiscally with fat purses bulging with fame, fortune, cash, prizes and prestige. With the steelhead run at low ebb and on its last legs, hardcore local anglers are gearing up for the tournament season starting Saturday with the Knights of Columbus tri-venue Walleye and Northern Tournament on Lac la Belle, Portage and Torch Lakes, anglers regulations meeting at 6 tonight, Lake Linden Park Pavilion. For more info, call Gary Marcotte, 296-0630.
On June 11, Michigan Free Fishing Weekend, they call it the Baraga County Lake Trout Festival and Keweenaw Classic Tournament at L'Anse Waterfront Park & Marina, but anglers catch a lotta salmon and whatever else swims in K-Bay, having a ball and winning hundreds upon thousands of dollars. Don't take my word for it, call Steve Koski, Indian Country Sports, 524-6518, laketroutfestival.com, and sign up.
At the venerable 38th Annual Rice Lake Fishing Derby the next day, June 12, they know how to wrap a lotta fun and frolic around fishing as well. You can win cash and prizes catching walleye, northern, perch, bass, bluegill and bullheads, and the whole family can have a good time doing it, thanks to the Lake Linden-Hubbell Sportsmen's Association. Call Keith Machiela at 296-0365 or go to llhsa.org.
Then, on June 18th they celebrate the Summer Solstice early with the Copper Harbor Labatt Blue Longest Day Tournament, a wild and woolly five-venue fish-o-rama where everything that swims in Lake Superior, Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Lac la Belle and Lake Fanny Hooe is fair game, with a fish fry and gala mojakka the night before, and an awards ceremony where they pay out money afterwards, followed by live music by Boodie Creek. Call Don Kauppi, 289-4637, or visit copperharbor.org.
It was too windy to haul rocks as wicked 40 mph winds gusting to 60 whiplashed, buffeted and slapped the Keweenaw, kicking up 25-foot waves on Lake Superior that forced 1,000-foot freighters to ride it out at anchor in Bete Gris, causing local power outages, and keeping boaters tied up at the dock, including the Ranger III on Isle Royale and the Isle Royale Queen in Copper Harbor. Inland lakes were way too rough to fish, and waves washed ducks and geese ashore on Swedetown Pond.
"There were whitecaps on our water holes," said Kevin Antilla at Calumet Golf Course. "They blamed the high winds for delaying play, but it was Keweenaw modesty plain and simple," he clarified, "the ladies held things up by stopping to hold their skimpy golf skirts down, but not Paris, Dolly and Amazing Grace, he added proudly, "they played right through the high water and hemlines like the troopers WW&W correspondents are."
It ain't often that a golf course is known for the best fish fry in town, but Calumet is.
"Regular readers of this column do so for its insightful reportage and hot outdoors action, even if we have to make it up," said WW&W wildlife correspondent, fishinista and social role model Paris Hiltunen, who does an eyebrow-raising job mentoring local Finnish girls to cast their inhibitions to the wind and look good doing it while they intern along the tournament trail and learn to factionalize and satirize their trout tales, salmon sagas and other fish stories, not just report them.
You don't have to fish a tournament to treat yourself to an exciting Lake Superior fishing adventure. Call Captain Fred Funkey, Fred's Charters, 289-4849, or Captain Brian Helminen, sandpointcharters.com, 370-2257. If you're new to walleye fishing, I recommend hiring a local guide who will teach you the ropes and put you on fish; Capt. Larry Smith, Fish On II Keweenaw Charters, 289-4481, firstname.lastname@example.org; Capt. Steve Erbisch, Hooked-Up Charter Fishing, hookedupcharter.com, 370-4450; Pink Floyd Kaiser's Hook 'Em Therapy Guide Service, 370-6533, email@example.com; or Capt. Phil Gagnon Walleye Guide Service, walleyeguideservice.net, 370-9726 or 296-9725.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@ chartermi.net.