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FEBRUARY

02 2015 »

It’s Time to Talk Tournaments – Devils Lake Style

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Devils Lake – The 39th annual Devils Lake Chamber walleye tournament, with over $58,000 in prizes, is slated for June 26-28. The North Dakota event attracts 2-person teams from across the Midwest, all vying for the $5,000 guaranteed first place cash prize.

The early-bird deadline is March 31, and of all teams entered then, five will be drawn for complimentary entry fees in the 2015 tournament.

All team members will receive a Cabela’s jacket, and will be eligible for daily big fish and other prizes.

Largest walleye each day is worth $500 from Scheels and Farmers Union Oil. The weigh-in ceremonies hosted by tournament director and world champion walleye angler Johnnie Candle will be streamed live.

Largest pike daily pays $250 from North Dakota Telephone Company and Horizon Financial Bank. The day two northern pike shootout is an optional tournament for those out of contention after the first day.

Largest white bass pays $100 per day from Old Main St. Café and Mr. and Mrs. J’s and LaMotte’s Paint and Glass. The largest perch each day is worth $100 from Blake’s Marine and Gerrells Sports Center.

Pooh’s Taxidermy will mount the largest walleye and pike caught. State Farm Insurance awards $100 to the mixed couple with the highest weight. Klemetsrud’s Plumbing and Heating will honor the largest walleye basket with $250. A host of other special awards will be distributed by Slumberland Furniture, Creative Impressions, Jerome Wholesale, Sleep Inn & Suites, Pete’s Bait Shop, Proz End of the Line, Real Estate 7, Berkley and Scheels. Lunch each day is provided by Holiday Station, Leever’s Foods, Schwan Wholesale, Farmers Union Oil, and Walmart.

A special kid’s fishing clinic will be conducted by Johnnie Candle after Saturday’s weigh-in at Graham’s Island State Park with 50 fishing rods to be given away. This event is sponsored by Rilos & Mimi. Reel Fun Days will take place Saturday with downtown retail sidewalk sales, a street dance and family entertainment.

1stplacewinnersRick Darling, half of the winning team last year (partner Jeff Trana), said, “We fish about 10 tournaments every year, and this is the one we most look forward to fishing.” He likened the event to a family reunion. “The camaraderie, meeting old friends and making new friends is what it’s all about,” he said.

The Chamber tournament draws anglers of all skill levels. Darling said, “It’s amazing how a newcomer can open the eyes of the locals with different techniques. That’s why it’s the toughest to win. In two decades, Darling and Trana placed in the top 10 multiple times, collected three second place trophies and the win last year.

To win, they followed their game-plan, hitting five key spots. With four walleyes in the livewell, they pulled next to a shallow weed patch with a sharp break to deep water. Casting Northland Impulse minnows and Salmo crankbaits, they hooked a nice fish, and while netting the 24-incher, they drifted into the weeds. Darling picked up his jig rod and flipped a jig into a tiny pocket. “I saw a big mouth open and ended up with a 7-pounder.”
The next day, they patrolled the same spot, never moving more than 50 yards. Their 10 walleyes tipped the scales at 48 pounds.

For the youngest team, Zach and Garrett Schemionek, age 16 and 19, the 2014 Chamber tournament was their first competitive event. Zach worked at Woodland Resort’s bait shop; Garrett was a high school sophomore. They had their dad’s boat, and Zach drove home (near Eau Claire, WI), picked up his brother and pre-fished a couple days. After talking with veteran anglers, they decided to follow their advice. “We learned to stay calm and manage our time,” Garrett said.

He said, “I would like to see more young people enter. This is a blast and we sure learned a lot, even though we finished in the middle of the pack. But, we did catch the big pike on day two and won $250. We’ll enter again, and also plan to fish a few other Devils Lake tournaments.” This year, if both team members are under 21, the entry fee is $235, compared to the normal fee of $275.

KenAndBrodyKen Forrest farms in the Devils Lake area. He received a call from 9-year old grandson Brody, who just heard a tournament radio ad. He first said to Mom, “Grandpa and I are going to fish this tournament.” Mom asked if Grandpa knew, to which Brody said, “No.”

That conversation went like this, “Grandpa, I’m just letting you know we’re fishing in the Chamber tournament.” This was the first tournament for both, and Ken said, “We were not in it to win; in fact I didn’t know much about tournaments. Farming was going full bore, so we didn’t get any time on the water until Friday morning.” They landed 19 pounds on day one. “We weren’t in a hurry; we just went fishing. The crew at the dock helped launch the boat and park the truck. What a great job the tournament crew does for all anglers, especially novices like us,” he said.

In the rain and wind on day two, Ken advised young Brody they didn’t have to stay. The response was a true Devils Lake up-and-coming angler, “Grandpa, we’re not quitting, we gotta get our walleyes.” They did, and in looking at the final scoreboard, Brody summed up their first tournament, “We didn’t win, but we didn’t come in last, either.”

The latest fishing and tournament details can be found at devilslakend.com.
The website features a comprehensive list of fishing guides plus the latest lake conditions, events, resorts, lodging and restaurant news plus a helpful map.

A 20 x 32 fish-cleaning station adjacent to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake) is open to the public with two grinders, a clean-up sink and bathrooms.

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