Longest Day anglers haul in big catches

By JIM?JUNTTILA

For the Gazette

COPPER?HARBOR?- Mark Kinnunen caught a nice 36.25-inch, 16.85-pound lake trout to win $550 and first place in the trout category of the 21st Annual Longest Day tournament Saturday.

The tournament celebrates the Summer Solstice on Lake Superior, where you know it was a long winter and Spring came late when the lilacs are barely in bloom for the Longest Day.

The Longest Day tournament kicked off with a registration meeting and kala mojakka (fish boil) on Friday evening, and fishing from 6 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Weigh-ins closed at 5 p.m. with a festive awards ceremony, live music and dancing, 8 p.m. at the Mariner North.

Seventy-three teams and 209 anglers fished the event; official weigh-ins were at Gas Lite General Store, Copper Harbor and Lac la Belle Marina.

“Fishing venues are Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor, Lake Fanny Hooe and Lac la Belle” said Don Kauppi at the Mariner North, “Tournament rules are no fishing allowed past five miles from shore on Lake Superior, all splake must be over 15 inches, and Lac la Belle walleye are catch and release.”

In a tournament known for big lakers, walleye and splake, it’s rare to weigh in a trophy northern, but that’s just what happened.

“One of the biggest fish I weighed in all day was a widebody 36-inch northern,” said surprised weighmaster Jeff Coltas, who got slimed by “a darn nice fish with impressive jaws and girth, but there’s no category for northern in the tournament.” Joe Franich caught the 36-inch 12-3/4-pound fish on a minnow in Copper Harbor.

The biggest walleye went to Ken Cohen, 6.6 pounds, 25 inches; biggest splake, George Gruver, 10.7 pounds, 28.5 inches; biggest salmon, Dave Frantti, 3.9 pounds, 23.5 inches; biggest bass, Chad Fortin, 2.5 pounds, 15.5 inches; biggest perch, Jeremy Maki, .6 pounds, 10.75 inches.

First place walleye paid $650, lake trout $550, splake $300. Biggest Basket total weight trout, $100. Perch, smallmouth bass and salmon categories paid $50 each. Lake trout and walleye categories pay out five places.

Biggest Basket award, total weight trout, went to Frank and Elane Pierce for their 26.65 pound catch.

Tyler Kipina won the drawing for the Mirro Craft boat, motor and trailer.

The Longest Day tournament is sponsored by Copper Harbor Improvement Association and Labatt Blue, McCabe Distributing, Laurium. For more information, call Don Kauppi, Mariner North, 289-4637 or Gas Lite General Store, 289-4652.