T-storm tournament and playing hookie for Solstice brookies

Jim Junttila photo The kind of Salvelinus fontinalis to make any Summer Solstice brookie afishionado salivate. Yooper Finnish girl Kelly Kotaniemi Treganowan displays a trophy wallhanger brook trout, Michigan's iconic state fish, caught at an undisclosed location with an undisclosed bait.

I have a pretty decent library of fishing books that get read and re-read during the winter for the four Rs: reference, relaxation, research and romance. But from Opening Day of trout season to closing day, I read brooks, not  books.

Except last weekend when the thunderstorms and monsoon rain of biblical proportions flooded the streets and streams with too much water to even think about shagging brookies.

“But we sure made up for it yesterday, the first day of summer,” said Summer Solstice, who took the reins and seasonal reign from Spring Correspondent Verna Equinox in celebratory creekside ceremonies at Woodtick Crick.

I’ve always been interested in wordplay and the origin and multiple meanings of words. Take hooking for instance; It’s variously a hockey infraction and penalty, a universal, common slang term for commercial sex workers, as well as knitting, crocheting and catching fish. For this column’s purpose, playing hookie for Solstice brookies refers to taking the longest day of the year off from school or work to go brookie fishing.

Read any good brooks lately? Whether you’re fishing flies, live bait or spinners, reading the water is key to locating fish and improving your chances of success. That and instincts are what make avian predators like eagles, ospreys, kingfishers and cormorants successful fish assassins.

As a lifelong brookie fisherman, seeker and pursuer of Salvelinus fontinalis without a sharp beak and talons, the closest I come is using Eagle Claw hooks for holding worms, crawlers and hoppers. They all ring a brookie’s dinner bell and leave rings on the water like the nose of a fish rising to sip or shlurp bugs off the surface film, as do well-tied crickets, hoppers, foam ants, mayflies, wooley buggers, and other flies.

In the bling and flash department of my fishing vest tackle box, I carry an assortment of teensy Swedish Pimples, Mepps and Panther Martin spinners. I wear a worm box on my belt for garden hackles and crawlers, so I’m ready to feed them whatever it takes to bring on the bite.

The rock gardens, riffles, foam covered pools, plunge pools, overhanging cedar sweeps, root wads and undercut banks brushed in with goldenrods, hay, impenetrable tag alder and red osier are all likely lies where brookies wait for the river to bring them food.

“The Solstice in Copper Harbor just won’t be the same without the Longest Day Tournament,” Summer sighed wistfully, “but my packed-to-the-gills tournament schedule has been enough to make me feel like Fishy McFishface, and a break in the action after last weekend’s stormy Walleye Lodge Father’s Day tournament at Lake Gogebic gives us a chance to wet a line with Ed Wetelainen and renew my acquaintance with our favorite haunts. Houghton and Keweenaw counties have enough brookie cricks, beaver dams and lakes to keep any brookie afishionado busy.” 

We started at the far north end of the line on Lake Manganese and Manganese Crick and worked our way south, hitting a number of jump-across cricks in K-County; Bear Crick, Camp Crick, Central Crick, Garden Crick, Morrison’s Crick, McGunn’s Crick, Slaughterhouse Crick, Wildcat Crick and Woodtick Crick, then worked our way up to bigger water; Gratiot River, Eagle River, Pilgrim, Tobacco, Traprock, Traverse, and Salmon Trout River and Lake. The bugs were out, the brookies were biting, and we fished so many cricks I had a crick in my neck.

T-Storm tournament on Lake Gogebic

Intrepid, determined anglers came from as far away as Green Bay and Superior to fish their way through thunderstorms and rain during the 2nd Annual Walleye Lodge Father’s Day Tournament on Lake Gogebic June 16, weighing in and releasing good catches of walleye, smallmouth bass and jumbo perch. Tom Cousineau, Bergland, caught a husky 19.5” 3.47 lb smallmouth to win first place in the closely-contested bass category, Justin Soffa, Ironwood, finished second with a 19.5″ 3.21 lb smallie, and Chris Whitburn, Wakefield, weighed in a 19″ 3-pounder to finish third.

Tom Novak’s 17-incher took first in the equally-tight walleye category, Russ Hewitt’s 16-3/4 incher finished second, and Lewis Olson, Green Bay, came in third with a 16 incher.

In the yellow perch category, Amber Kokkonen, Chassell, finished first with an 11.5 incher, Tyler Anderson’s 11-incher came in second, and Nathan Avedesian took third with a 10-3/4 incher.

“We’d like to thank all the participants who fished through the inclement weather and the Superior Bass Club who loaned us their professional series scale for the weigh-ins,” said Mary Beth, Jim and Anthony, hosts at AJ’s Walleye Lodge.  “Having so many people help us put on a successful event is what community partnerships are all about; even the weather cooperated for a great post-tournament party and cook-out.” For more info, call Mary Beth, 906.575.3557 or visit walleyelodge.com

Upcoming Yooper tournament action:

Saturday, July 14 – 6th Annual North Shore Invitational, Eagle Harbor, for info call Jim Oikarinen, 281.1029.

Saturday, July 21 – 5th Annual Ontonagon Offshore Tournament, for info, call Greig’s Taxidermy 906.884.2770.

Saturday, August 4 – 4th Annual Gay-Big Traverse Bay Tournament, call Brian Lassila 370.7877.

Jim loves reader feedback and can be reached at jamesjunttila@att.net