ALPENA - Despite a decrease in the amount of brown trout being caught in recent years and the price of gas inching toward $4 a gallon, the number of people fishing in the Michigan Brown Trout Festival in Alpena is not suffering from it.
As the fishing climate has changed in and around Thunder Bay, tournament organizers have adjusted in an effort to make the event competitive and have many fish as possible weighed in.
Assistant Tournament Director Dick Cadarette has been involved with the tournament since 1991 and has witnessed the change in fishing firsthand. He said the number of people fishing this year could be touch higher than in 2013, but added the final numbers of participants has not been tallied yet.
"I think we are about the same or maybe up a little," Cadarette said. "The fishing itself is about the same too, as we weighed in 211 fish Saturday and 184 on Sunday. I think the number of people fishing is a direct result on the fishing obviously and so far the fishing has been pretty good."
As of Monday afternoon there hadn't been a brown trout weighed in, but good numbers of salmon, steelhead, lake trout and walleye are being reported. Cadarette said even though the number of browns continue to shrink, the walleye population has helped bolster the number of people fishing."
This year the festival held a new format for the youth fishing tournament and about 200 kids tried their luck in the Thunder Bay River trying to catch a fish that would win them a prize. Cadarette said exposing the kids to fishing at a young age could increase the number of tournament participants in a few years.
"Someday many of these kids are going to have their own boats and we hope will want to fish in the tournament," Cadarette said. "By giving a taste of what it is like when they are young it could carry over and benefit the tournament down the road when they grow up."
Cadarette said despite a lack of brown trout being caught there are no plans to change the name of the tournament. He said some people also believe shortening the festival could help increase the amount of people fishing, that he disagrees with that thought.
" We're not going to change the name. Heck it takes a good fishermen to catch a brown. They are still out there," Cadarette said. "Some people say the tournament is too long. This tournament is for Alpena and to help Alpena go and if we shorten it up to three or four days Alpena won't benefit from it as much.
"The way we have it now we have two full weekends where people can not only fish, but go to the tent and visit the downtown. We have people who come all the way from Virginia and from other places around the country for this and I think although it may seem long for some, it is perfect for what is good for Alpena."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com