Man, the rods are piled up in the boat at the moment. I've got wads of rods tangled with cranks tied, Lindys danglin', tube baits twisted, even a few bobber rigs bouncing around. It's 'cause I'm a bit mixed up, maybe, like the fish this year. We've had a cooooold, wet spring. The good news? Water levels in many parts of the Midwest are back up where they need to be. The bad news? Fish aren't quite in their timely patterns yet and last week, that would prove to be a good thing for the Sherck/Swendra team.....
Each June, I volunteer to guide a team of anglers as part of Camp Confidence's WONDERFUL Classic Tournament. This was the event's 28th strong year in existence. The tournament is a chance to raise big dough for the camp, which provides outdoor opportunities to literally thousands of people with developmental disabilities. This year, I had buddies in the boat. Rob Swendra and I always seems to talk about going fishing, but just never seem to get around to it. Rob anteed up for the event and brought along his wife, Karen (turns out she would be our ringer). We pulled a good number for the tournament, #7 and we were one of the first teams to blast off on Saturday morning and head out onto Gull Lake's expanse. Dead calm and heavy gray skies. Perfect. The tournament format is a fun one. Three fish limit in separate bass, walleye, northern and mixed bag categories. Rob and Karen hoped we'd find a few walleyes, so we took a fifteen minute trip to the north end of the lake and dropped a few Lindys over the side. In the first two hours, we found and landed a couple of small wallies and I mean tiny, like 12-14 inchers. Hmmmm. Not the way I like to start a tournament. We decided to move down the lake a ways and I noticed no one on another of my favorite spots. We threw a few small Northland fireballs tipped with redtails into the weedy spot and soon had a 23 incher in the livewell. "Good", I thought. We had one good fish and had 2 1/2 hours to find a few more. Walleye fishing on Gull can be a grind at times, so I decided to switch us up and head to a bass spot. *Bang!* Rob's wife put a nic e 3 pound fish in the boat right away. A couple casts later, *bang!* another nice bass. Suddenly, I wondered if we should ditch the walleyes and switch to the bass category. After all, we had two nice fish. Again, I decided to change things up. We threw a few Rapalas on trolling rods and slowly headed down along the edge of a fishy weedline and settled into a few sandwiches. Two bites in, Rob dropped his turkey and swiss and grabbed the #1 port-side rod. Moments later, we had a small pike in the boat. I don't think Karen was halfway through her roast beef and cheddar before her rod popped and suddenly she had a nice pike in the boat.
The next pike would be our keeper. Remember that Purpledecent Shad Rap I used to nab the big pike in Canada? Well, I'd tied that on and had it down about 8 feet when a nice fish grabbed it. Rob netted our pike and suddenly I smiled. "We're actually looking pretty good for the mixed bag tournament." "What do you guys want to do the last hour?" "I say we just fish for fun". "Cool..." We snuck over to another of my favorite areas and started throwing Rapala DTs and on Rob's first cast with the Crawdad Red, he put a 4+ pound largemouth in the boat! Rob! Way to go!
Suddenly we had a SOLID bag for the bass category. Good Lord! Well, we caught plenty of fish in that last hour and with roughly 10 minutes left, I put another 23+ inch walleye in the boat and decided we'd had an awfully good day of fishing. As we zipped back to the weigh-in, we decided to pick the mixed bag category and enter Rob's bass in the lunker contest.
Turns out, we would win the mixed bag tournament and Rob would also get the lunker award.
What a FUN day of fishing! Even my son got in on the action winning a new fishing pole after taking part in the kids casting clinic. Does he look excited or what?
All I can say is THANKS to the good people at Camp Confidence. They put on one heck of a tournament and run the best darn camp in Minnesota. PS: Did I mention that the Classic weekend raised $100,000 for campers. Amazing......