COPPER HARBOR -With ice off the lake less than 30 days and water temperatures in the low 40s with rain and fog, it took a hot bite to warm up the 155 intrepid anglers competing in the 22nd Annual Longest Day Fishing Tournament in Copper Harbor Saturday.
The iconic, romantic mixed scents of lilacs and lake trout wafted along the waterfront as the event celebrating the Summer Solstice on Lake Superior kicked off with a captain's registration meeting and kala mojakka (fish boil) on Friday evening, and fishing from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Weigh-ins close at 5 p.m. with the awards ceremony and live music at 8 p.m. at the Mariner North.
Tournament venues are Lac la Belle, Bete Grise, Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor and Lake Fanny Hooe. No fishing is permitted beyond five miles from shore in Lake Superior.
Longest Day Tournament Director and host Don Kauppi presents the biggest lake trout trophy to Bob Murphy for his 13.4 pound, 34-3/4 inch laker during award ceremonies at the Mariner North.
There was no shortage of cooperative fish on the Longest Day with anglers weighing in walleye, lake trout, splake, salmon and perch, some finishing in the money, others in the frying pan.
Bob Murphy caught a 34-3/4 inch, 13.4-pounder to win first place and $550 in the lake trout category. Bruce Harter's 8.85 pound, 27-1/2 inch first-place splake paid $600; David Aalto caught the biggest walleye, 7.1 pounds, 27.5 inches, worth $650; Noah Kinnunen caught the biggest king salmon, 24-1/4 inches, 4.85 pounds, and Jenny Racine's 12-inch, .8 pound jumbo perch both paid $50. A total of $3600 in prize money was paid to 19 anglers.
Tournament officials Don Kauppi, Pink Floyd Kaiser and Mike Swaney were pleased with the turn-out and said proceeds go to promoting area fishing and continued splake planting in the Keweenaw.
"We usually weigh most of the fish in the afternoon," said official weighmasters Jeff and Kelly Coltas at the Gas Lite General Store, "but this year the bite heated up when a front and rain squall moved through in late morning, shagging fishermen off the water early."
Winning walleye were caught on minnows, crawler harnesses and crankbaits; splake and lakers were lured by minnows, smelt, Finn Spoons and Rapalas.
The Longest Day tournament is sponsored by Copper Harbor Improvement Association and Labatt Blue, McCabe Distributing, Laurium. McCabe also sponsors the splake category. For more information, call Don Kauppi, Mariner North, 289-4637 or Gas Lite General Store, 289-4652.