The Kalkaska Trout Festival wouldn’t be complete without a trout fishing contest.
“For the kids, it’s the kickoff to trout season,” said Kalkaska Trout Festival board member Dan Bloomquist. “You see a lot of different families here. A lot of locals. We actually have people from out of town and out of state.”
Families arrived early and piled around the pond for a prime spot. The fish were biting, and smiles were plastered across kids’ faces.
“Last year we didn’t catch anything, so that was kind of a bummer for them,” said Jessica Hearn who has attended the fishing contest with her family for years. “[My kids] had all these people around them catching fish and then they kept casting and get little nibbles and then they never got anything. But with this being their first fish, I think they’re pretty excited.”
The pond sits on the Coan family’s property, a site for the contest in the past 17-18 years. Phil and Ruth Coan built the trout pond alongside their home.
“This has been a legacy of my mom and dad’s,” said Vern Coan, the son to Phil and Ruth. “After we lost my mom in a house fire, my sister said, ‘I’m going to move in there and we’re going to continue with the trout pond.’ So, to this day, that’s what we plan on doing.”
The trouts in the pond are tagged, which can be exchanged for a prize. There are two six-pound tagged trouts as the grand prize. The grand prizes are tackleboxes filled with goodies and each tacklebox has been named after Phil and Ruth. The other tags can be exchanged for a brand-new rod and reel.
The kids’ fishing contest runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.