Lake Superior anglers will see a few new twists to this year's Marquette Bay Classic fishing derby that should add a little more fun to the already popular event. Run by the South Shore Fishing Association, this year's classic is set for Sept. 7.
The main change involves one of the bigger prizes that will offer anglers a better chance at pulling in some nice cash.
In recent years, there has been a special "wild card" category that awarded $2,500 to the team that caught the heaviest combination on one salmon and one trout.
This year, though, there will be a $1,000 cash prize for the biggest salmon and a $1,000 for the biggest trout.
Dan Bianchi, chairman of the tournament committee, said the change was made to offer anglers an opportunity to concentrate on catching one species instead of having to have a large fish of each species.
"We now have two chances for anybody to target one big fish and have a chance to win some money," Bianchi said. "We all know it's chance (when you catch a big fish), so this will allow people to fish right up until the last minute in hopes of catching a big one."
I like this change a lot, seeing the crew I fish with favors going after chinook salmon in that little honey hole out by the .... you know where.
Another thing different about this year's classic is that anglers will be able to donate their fish to the association, which in turn is working with a few local charities to put the fish to good use.
"There is no requirement for anybody to donate their fish," Bianchi said. "We're just offering the option of donating fish that will be distributed to local charities. You can donate one fish or 20, we'll take what we can get and club members will process them."
This addition to the classic is also a positive move that fits right in with with some of the other community-minded projects the SSFA is involved in.
Included in these projects is the recently held Big Brothers Big Sisters fishing outing, which matches up fishing boat owners with big and little brothers and sisters for a day of fishing on Lake Superior.
In addition, the association was a major sponsor this year of the annual Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Kids Fishing Day that was held in L'Anse.
Another event was a clean-up effort on Whetstone Creek, which drew more than 40 youths joining forces with SSFA members to pick up trash along the local creek.
While these projects directly impact the younger members of the community, a few other association initiatives are focused more closely on anglers who enjoy plying the waters of Lake Superior for lunker lake trout and salmon.
In fact, one of these efforts has resulted in a pretty good rebound to the chinook salmon fishery in the area. For several years, with a few interruptions over the years, the SSFA has been involved in a salmon net penning project on the lower Dead River.
This project involves placing more than 100,000 salmon fry in pens anchored to the Presque Isle Power Plant's bin wall not far upstream from Lake Superior.
The small chinooks are kept in the pens and fed for a few weeks so the river will be "imprinted" on them, which is aimed at having them return to the river to spawn after they mature in Superior. The pens also protect the fry from predators until they are released into the river and head for the lake.
Another visible project the association spearheaded was the fundraising for and construction of the fish cleaning station at the Cinder Pond Marina on the Lower Harbor.
This has been a welcomed and well-used addition to the area, and the SSFA is considering undertaking a project to install a cleaning station at the Presque isle Marina, where a lot of fishermen like heading out from.
None of these projects would be possible without the Marquette Bay Classic, which is the association's main fundraiser of the year.
In addition to the major changes discussed earlier, there are a few other minor adjustments that are being made. Included is instead of paying out cash to the top three teams in each category, the top five teams in each of the four categories will receive cash.
As in the past, the categories are catch-and-release salmon, catch-and-release trout and catch-and-keep in salmon and trout.
Also, in an effort to keep the weigh-ins moving along a little better, Bianchi said classic officials decided to have separate weigh-in lines for catch-and-release and catch-and keep categories.
Both weigh-in lines will be at the Fish Dock, though, where tournament headquarters in located. Anglers should note that there is a misprint in the tourney brochure that states the weigh-ins will be at the east end of Mattson Lower Harbor Park, where it was a few years back.
All other rules basically remain the same and can be viewed by logging on to the web site at www.upangler.com/forums/ and scrolling down to the SSFA location.
More information can also be obtained by calling Bianchi at 360-7536 or tourney assistant chairman Eric Hastings at 869-5024.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.