Local fishing group could use a hand

There are endless challenges facing those of us who enjoy participating in outdoor sports, ranging from getting access to prime hunting and fishing locations to pitching in to assist fish and game managers.

Acting as an individual makes these challenges even tougher, which is why we sometimes band together and create a louder voice.

This joining together often leads to formal organizations being created, and I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with a few of them, some even from their creation.

A good example of this is the Central Upper Peninsula Sport Fishing Association, which was formed in 1989 by a small group of anglers wanting to improve the various fisheries they enjoyed.

I was writing outdoor columns back then and remember some of the early projects, including one of my all-time favorites.

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, CUPSFA helped fund brook trout plants in remote walk-in lakes. Included in these plants were ones done by helicopter, and I was fortunate to be invited along on a flight.

I had never been in a helicopter, but enjoyed a few flights in small planes that I expected were similar to riding in a helicopter.

Well, I was a little surprised when we lifted off the ground from a small clearing north of the Dead River Basin.

First of all, it was a tight fit. We had four or five five-gallon buckets full of nice healthy brookies in the 8- to 10-inch range on board, and I actually had to sit on one of the buckets as we lifted over the tree tops and above the escarpment as we headed for Island Lake.

After settling down I realized it was a great way to view the woods, including watching several deer walk along trails.

Then we got to the lake, where the pilot slowly flew over the water at a low level and I dumped the fish out the opening where I thought a door should have been.

We made it back safely and I have nothing but fine memories of that day, which was made possible by the fishing association.

CUPSFA has flourished for many years, too, and sponsors several activities relating to fishing.

According to association President Larry Argall of Negaunee, here are a few of the group’s accomplishments:

– Sponsor three kids fishing events annually, including derbies in Humboldt and Richmond townships and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s kids fishing event.

– Annually sponsor the “Ask the DNR” program on WNMU Public TV 13.

– Involved with local fishery assessments and many improvement projects on Teal Lake and Deer Lake. Has spent more than $20,000 on planting rainbow/brown trout in Lake Angeline over the last 15 years and assisted in planting adult lake trout brood stock and helped establish a smelt fishery.

– Helped construct or supported the construction of many handicap access fishing piers, including at Harlow Creek, the Chocolay and Dead rivers, Deer Lake and elsewhere.

These are all worthwhile efforts, although Argall said the club has recently accomplished one of its major goals: Securing legal access to Lake Angeline in Ishpeming.

“We’re really excited about Lake Angeline,” he said. “It’s always been open (to the public), but there was no legal access. Now it’s 100 percent legal and there will be a boat launch put in.”

When that launch is constructed is up in the air right now, Argall said, but the DNR has funds available to do the project. There is another benefit to having legal access to the lake – now the state can plant fish in the lake, which was recently done when 10,000 8- to 9-inch brookie were planted.

Argall said there are plans to make some additional plants this year, including of brown and lake trout.

Association members have another project coming up soon that is one of their favorites, as well as enjoyed by many non-members.

This event is the group’s annual fish boil, which is set for 3:30 to 7 p.m. July 10 at the Negaunee Elks Lodge on Pioneer Avenue.

As with many other clubs in the region, though, CUPSFA has an aging membership and could use a little help with the fish boil, including during set up, cooking, serving and cleanup, as well as donations of fish.

In fact, the association could use an influx of new members to assist with all the activities it is involved in.

For more information or to get involved, call Argall at 475-4437 or send a note to: CUPSFA, 13 Ely Drive, Negaunee, MI 49866.

I’m sure the membership would welcome some newcomers, perhaps even some younger ones with strong backs.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.