ALPENA, Mich. — Great Lakes Divers partnered with the Michigan Spearfishing Association to host the 2nd Annual Spearfishing Tournament in the Thunder Bay Marina. The first tournament was held in Traverse City Bay.
Teams of two spearos freedived within the waters of the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, exploring many historically important shipwrecks and other maritime cultural artifacts. MSA President Aaron Dalman loved the underwater beauty in Alpena.
“I was out there and we dove some 50 foot wrecks,” said Dalman. “Just the pristine condition that Alpena’s done to keep those wreck in tact was incredible.”
The teams picked their best five fish prior to weigh in, earning one point per pound and one point per fish. Michigan native Nathan Durtka finished seventh in 2018, and was happy to improve and take home the top individual prize.
“It’s definitely progression. It’s where I want to be,” said Durtka. “Growing the sport and getting new people involved, and it’s good to see that I’m growing as there’s new people growing with me.”
Spearos are limited in Michigan to certain types of fish: bowfin, bullheads, burbot, carp, catfish, cisco (lake herring), drum, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp, longnose gar, smelt, suckers and whitefish.
“Right now we’re only allowed to harvest rough fish like carp, drum, suckers and other fish that are not very good table fare,” said Durtka. “We’re trying to get the regulations changed right now so we are able to harvest walleye, lake trout and northern pike. Stuff that are hard to dive to in deeper depths and it’s not going to effect the health of the population.”
The Michigan Spearing Association enjoyed freediving and fishing in Alpena and look to bring back the tournament again sometime in the future. Here are the rules if you or a friend are interested in competing in the sport of spearfishing: Thunder Bay Classic Tournament Rules.
Top Team Results
(1) Golf Coast – 131.1 -Mike LaFranchie and Vincent Messina
(2) Whale Hunters – 130.1 -Tyler Dempsey and John Rogers
(3) Fear the Spear – 109.1 -Nathan Durtka and James Stack
Top Individual Results
(1) Nathan Durtka – 74.9
(2) Tyler Dempsey – 74.6
(3) Andrew Schmid – 70.6