The third annual Minnesota Fishing Challenge, presented by Mills Fleet Farm, coincided with the best summer-weather day of the year. The Saturday, June 4 tournament on Gull Lake resulted in a big catch and the fund-raiser produced more than $125,000 for Minnesota Teen Challenge programs.
“While the record amount raised was significant, the smiles on the faces of contestants, young and old, told the story,” one observer in the huge crowd told tournament host Al Lindner. Cragun’s Beach was full of fishermen, their families and fans. Lindner echoed that sentiment and said, “Fishing to support such a great cause is why we’re all here.”
The top fund-raisers, Jamison Seiffert, Litchfield, and James Hodgin, Jr., Cottage Grove, turned in an astounding $12,945. They will spend a day on the water with Lindner. A total of $11,625 won a trip with Walleye Dan for Den Pluimer, Willmar and Ron Kleinsasser from Saskatchewan. Brothers Mike and Mark Grussing from Bloomington and Benson will fish with Ron Lindner for their $10,827 effort.
Winners of their respective divisions:
Lindner Media Bass (3 bass): Steve Pennaz and Dale Anderson, Twin Cities, 11.04 pounds.
Full Throttle Walleye (3 walleyes): Gary Hasse and David Erickson, Brainerd, 11.83 pounds.
Nor-Son Panfish (3 panfish – all crappies): Rep. John Ward and Paul Flansburg, Brainerd, 4.49 pounds.
Nor-Son Northern Pike (1 pike): Keith Bachman and Eric Sullivan, Brainerd, 8.88 pounds.
Sportech Mixed Bag (1 each of the above species): Larry and Todd Bollig, International Falls, 12.71 pounds.
2011 MN Fishing Challenge First Place Winners (Bass Division) Steve Pennaz and Dale Anderson -- (l-r) MN Fishing Challenge Director Jim Kalkofen, Steve Pennaz (NAFC), Event Emcee Jim O'Rourke, Pierce Pennaz, and Dale Anderson
All 83 teams that caught and registered fish won significant prizes, including guided fishing trips, rods and reels donated by professional anglers, tackle industry leaders and TV show hosts. They also won MinnKota trolling motors, Frabill ice shelters, Ardent reels, Nardini fire extinguishers, and lure selections by In-Fisherman editor Steve Quinn and many other pro anglers. The number of teams entered was a 24 percent increase over last season.
Local anglers captured the major prize for their early-bird entry. Donny Hines and Jeff Young, Brainerd, won the trip for two to Pasha Lake Cabins, north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. They will spend a week in this adventure camp fishing walleyes and pike.
The main draw prize went to Russ Philstrom, Emily and Scott Rude, Brainerd. They will be headed to a one-week stay at Witch Bay Camp on Lake of the Woods in Ontario, which includes a boat and motor, cabin and meals. Pro angler Perry Good, Brainerd said, “This is the place for big pike, muskies and walleyes all day long.”
The men from the Brainerd Campus of Teen Challenge handled fish, boats and were active in every phase of the event. They also performed prior to the awards ceremonies. The Teen Challenge mission is to assist teens and adults in gaining freedom from chemical addictions and other life controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The Brainerd Campus is located on South Sixth Street, 218-833-8777. The 2012 Fishing Challenge is set for June 2 on Gull Lake.