More than lake trout

L’ANSE- Kyle Dotson got a surprise Saturday when he took first place for the 22-mile-long course of the Tour de L’Anse bicycle race during the Baraga County Lake Trout Festival.

Dotson said he decided to take part in the race on a sort of whim.

“This is my first bike race,” he said. “I’ve only been biking for three weeks.”

There was also a 32-mile course for the race.

Because of his success in the race, Dotson said he’ll continue racing and intends to enter the Marquette Bike Jam on June 29.

Although there was no prize for the 22-mile version of the race, Dotson said his prize was a feeling of accomplishment.

The bike races were one part of the festival, which Tracey Barrett, festival committee member, said is intended to be about more than just fishing.

However, this year, at 1:20 p.m., Barrett, who is also executive director of the Baraga County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said there were a record number of boats taking part in the salmon and trout fishing contest. Last year, there were 111 boats entered.

Barrett said the good weather probably had much to do with the good turnout.

“They’ve been fishing heavy all week,” she said.

This was the eighth annual Lake Trout Festival, and Barrett said it is always conducted during the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Free Fishing Weekend.

The tournament has classes for salmon and trout. There are cash and merchandise prizes. Awards are paid to 15 places. Five tagged fish were placed in Keweenaw Bay, where the contest took place, and if those were caught Saturday, they would be worth $1,000 each to whomever catches them. After Saturday, whomever catches them will get a $50 Baraga County gift certificate.

Barrett said the festival includes many events and vendors, which are intended to appeal to even those who aren’t fishers.

The junk art event had 12 entrants, Barrett said.

“That’s the most they’ve ever had,” she said.

Barrett said the festival is geared toward families, and one of those families taking part was Kristen Kahler of L’Anse and her two sons, 4-year-old Mason and 2-year-old Nolan, both of whom were trying to catch metal washers in a wading pool with magnets tied to a length of string on a stick.

Kahler said her family has attended four or five of the eight festivals.

“It’s something to do for the kids,” she said.

Her husband, John, entered the fishing tournament a few years ago, Kahler said, but as with many of the other contestants that year, he wasn’t successful.

“I don’t think they caught a whole lot that year,” she said.

Barrett said preliminary planning for next year’s festival will begin soon, but the serious planning will be in January or February.

“It’s always the same,” she said.