Minnesota’s Lake Bemidji this week will host 90 of the nation’s best collegiate angler teams for three days of bass competition in a series that will determine a national Bassmaster college champion.
Scott Faust, a spokesman for Bemidji State University (BSU), said the school, city officials and the local Visit Bemidji tourism board have been scrambling since May to host the event. The opportunity arose after members of BSU’s non-varsity fishing club became active on Bassmaster’s collegiate tour.
“It’s great for us at the university, and it’s great for the community,’’ Faust said.
Lake Bemidji is best known for walleye fishing, but local officials are savoring the spotlight of big-time bass fishing, he said.
Four BSU students will compete in the event against bass anglers from 59 other universities. No other Minnesotans qualified.
The three-day tournament starts Thursday. Each day of competition begins with a 6 a.m. takeoff from Paul Bunyan Park in downtown Bemidji. The best team will be crowned national champions, and top finishers will advance to other tourneys to vie for additional honors.
Faust said many of the competitors will lodge in a BSU dormitory. The school runs an aquatic biology program and sits on the shores of Lake Bemidji.
Susan Goudge, executive director for Visit Bemidji, wished the anglers luck in a press release issued by Alabama-based Bassmaster.
“Bemidji, First City on the Mississippi, looks forward to welcoming the fishing teams, families and B.A.S.S. staff to our beautiful community,’’ Goudge said.
Following the tournament briefing Tuesday night in Bemidji, a number of pro anglers from the Bassmaster Elite Series will make an appearance. Minnesota native Seth Feider, who now ranks 21st on the pro tour, will be among the stars.
Feider is certain to return to this year’s Bassmaster’s Angler of the Year tournament, scheduled for mid-September on Mille Lacs. Last year, after narrowly qualifying for that tournament, he won top honors for the overall heaviest bag of fish. Someone else won angler of the year.