ALPENA - Come for a day of fun and help keep Long Lake beautiful at the 24th annual Long Lake Improvement Association Family Fishing Derby on Aug. 2.
Fishing is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and anglers will be divided into youth and adult divisions, association Treasurer Bob Garant said. The association will give out more than $1,000 in cash prizes for youth with the top three bluegill, perch, pike, walleye and bass, and for adults with the top three of the same species, minus bluegill.
Every participant age 15 and under gets a prize, Garant said.
"It's a fun day for the kids and it gets the family together," he said. "It's something to do in the summertime."
The derby is at Dodge Marine and Storage, 2111 Long Lake Park Rd., Garant said. Tim Dodge will supply food, and the association supplies pop, coffee and water. There also will be games and raffles.
Fishing for the tournament should be good, Garant said, especially for bass. The lake has an excellent smallmouth bass fishery and is the site of a number of bass tournaments. It's also one of three Northeast Michigan lakes fished by Major League Fishing anglers in 2013.
The cost is $15 per family, which buys a Long Lake Improvement Association membership as well, Garant said. Dodge Marine and Storage, Buck's Bait on US-23 and Parker House Restaurant, north of Dodge Marine, are selling membership cards.
All proceeds go to lake improvement projects, and the association directly organizes or assists with several, Garant said. For one, the association maintains the dam at the south end of the lake, used to regulate water levels and flow through Long Lake Creek.
Fish stocking is another major focus for the association, Garant said. Last year they had 3,600 young walleye planted in the lake at around $1.85 apiece. The association stocks fish every year it can afford to, and Garant thinks it's paying off.
"It helps sustain the fish," he said. "I notice we're getting some more little ones in there, so they are starting to spawn back."
These efforts are complemented by the association's cormorant control measures, Garant said. Members help the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's multi-state population control program for these birds. Their numbers exploded in recent years, impacting fish populations in the waters where they fed.
When cormorant control efforts started on Long Lake, it wasn't unusual to see 1,000 to 1,500 of the birds on the lake, Garant said. Now it's more like 75, and volunteers killed 60 of the birds on Long Lake last year. Other efforts include scaring the birds away.
The association also checks water clarity throughout the summer in three different locations, Garant said. They'll take measurements using a Secchi disk four times a year.