Lake Trout Festival offers loads of fun for everyone

L’ANSE- Kyle Dotson got a surprise Saturday when he took first place for the 22-mile 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 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.

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 are an example of how the festival is more than just fishing, said Tracey Barrett, festival committee member.

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

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 state’s 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 whoever catches them. After Saturday, whoever catches one will get a $50 Baraga County gift certificate.

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

The junk art event had 12 entries, 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, who 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.

Barrett said preliminary planning for next year’s festival will begin soon, with serious planning getting going early next year.

“It’s always the same,” she said.