The second weekend in June is often when fishing action picks up and anglers hit their favorite fishing holes. Veterans of the sport know this is a great time to go after whatever finned game they prefer, but what about those who don't fish but perhaps have an interest in trying it out?
Well, the state and various organizations across the Upper Peninsula are making it easier for newcomers to wet a line without investing too much money in the sport.
As far as the state goes, this weekend is one of two each year that are designated free fishing weekends - a time when anyone can fish the waters of Michigan without a fishing license. These weekends have been offered for several years in an effort to encourage more residents to give the wonderful sport a try, as well as encourage out-of-staters to fish the bountiful waters of Michigan.
All regulations such as size and creel limits still apply, so it would be a good idea for first-time fishermen to pick up a fishing guide when they stop to buy some bait or fishing gear.
And once you're all geared up and ready to hit the water, there are several organized fishing events scattered across the U.P. on Saturday that will not only provide a venue for fishing, but probably have a few veteran anglers hanging around who can offer some fishing advice.
One event that has always drawn my attention is the Family Fishing Tournament on Lake Independence, which happens to be located near where I spend a good deal of time kicking around the woods.
Sponsored by the Big Bay Sportsmen's Club, this is the 15th annual family derby that features kids and adult categories for perch, walleye, northern pike and bass.
An interesting aspect of the tourney is that it is under the catch and release format, except for suckers. To help satisfy one of the sportsmen's club's main goals of ridding Lake Independence of suckers, all suckers should be registered and not returned to the water.
Youths 12 years old and younger can win $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third place in each fish category, as well as trophies. Adults will compete for the same cash prizes in each category.
There are some special cash awards, as well, including $25 for the first fish registered and $1 an inch for the first perch registered that is at least 10 inches long and $1 an inch for the first walleye at least 18 inches long.
All these cash prizes and trophies are made possible by a host of businesses, most of which have supported the tournament for several years.
There is a $10 registration fee for adults while the kids can compete for free. Registration and fishing gets under way at 6 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m.
Included in other local fishing events planned for Saturday are:
- The 22nd annual fishing derby for kids 16 years of age and younger at Warner Creek at the Richmond Township Community Club near Palmer. Youths should bring their own fishing pole, tackle and bait. Breakfast and registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and all anglers - who must be accompanied by an adult - have to be registered by 11 a.m. Fishing will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided and prizes will be awarded.
- The Keweenaw Bay Classic Fishing Tournament and kids events at the L'Anse Waterfront Park.
The classic will run from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., and more information can be found at www.Laketroutfestival.com.
Included in kids events will be a free fishing pond from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kids will be able to keep rainbow and brook trout they catch. All fishing equipment and bait will be furnished. Additional activities for the entire family will include kids games, music, and food throughout the day. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the fishing tournament.
- The 19th annual Kids Fishing Day at Seven Lakes Campground near Manistique. There will be free fishing for youths 16 years old and younger accompanied by an adult. Registration and activities start at 11 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. There will be two trout ponds and a casting contest. Kids will get a chance to visit with Smokey Bear and raffle prizes will be handed out throughout the day. Free refreshments will be served.
Besides these organized events, local sportshops and convenience stores near lakes and streams are usually pretty good places to learn where and how to fish the local waters.
So load up your pickup or car with fishing gear and the kids, friends, neighbors or go solo and enjoy a couple days of one of the greatest sports on earth while getting out and enjoying the wonderful U.P.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.