An armada of modern kayaks built for fishing slipped silently into the moving waters of the Mississippi River north of Clearwater early Saturday morning, as some 40 members of the Minnesota Kayak Fishing Association gathered to compete in a friendly competition based on the successful hooking and releasing of Smallmouth Bass.
Anglers worked shorelines, riffles, pools and island edges as their kayaks enabled them to deftly ply the moving and sometimes very shallow waters.
Born out of sealskin-covered craft first used for hunting and subsistence living by Aleut, Inuit, and Yupik peoples of the sub-Arctic and other northern regions, modern fishing kayaks are no longer the very tippy craft of yesteryear.
Todays kayak are built from modern polymers and other space-age materials and are designed like small fishing battleships, ready to take on any river, lake or ocean. New designs and improvements have allowed even wary skeptics the chance to counter the popularity of the motorized fishing boat in an affordable fashion.
Affordability has been the key to the success of these boats and the crowds have joined in on fishing tournaments and and kayak fishing clubs around the country.
The Minnesota Kayak Fishing Association is no different. It boasts nearly 500 hundred active members that gather for weekly outings and tournaments. Members meet to share ideas on fishing, rigging kayaks, and learn the latest innovations in rod holders, depth finders, trolling motors, downriggers and more.
Dan Meer, owner of Clearawters Outfitting Company, host of this years’ Bronzeback Classic Fishing Tournament said, “I’ve seen a rise in sales and rentals of fishing kayaks this year. Kayaking allows everyone to get into the sport at affordable prices compared to traditional fishing boats and motors. It’s a very quiet and gentle sport that has no boundaries. We have first-timers that get so addicted to kayaks that they enthusiastically talk the sport up, getting friends and family involved.”
This tournaments’ anglers, who traveled to the Mississippi from all over the Midwest, cast their lures in hopes to cash in on a host of prizes that included rods, reels, kayak gear and cash prizes. Two new kayaks were given away to winning anglers.
Tournament anglers met early Saturday morning at Clearwater Outfitting Company in Clearwater, loading kayaks onto the shuttle trailers under dim street lights. They were then transported to a starting point upstream to float the 9 miles down river in search of their three biggest fish of the day. Each fish was carefully measured, then photographed on cell phones. Images were e-mailed to the contest headquarters after the fish were released back into the river.
Tournament Recap by Paul M Hansen
Pictures by Mitch Kezar, www.kezarphoto.com
Article by Mitch Petrie, SPECIAL TO STARTRIBUNE.COM :
Wild coach Mike Yeo, backed by players Erik Haula, Keith Ballard, Matt Cooke and Justin Fontaine, took to the waters of Lake Minnetonka in the first “Mike Yeo Classic” bass tournament. The event, put on by the Minnesota Wild Foundation and Sponsored by Gander Mountain, is a fundraiser for the Angel Foundation and the Miracles of Mitch Foundation. Both organizations assist individuals and families in need of financial support as they fight cancer.
Teammates and Alumni from the MN Wild regroup after a day on Lake Minnetonka
Fans had the opportunity to bid online to be in one of seven boats. Others were drawn from a pool of season-ticket holders who submitted trophy shots of their fish while wearing Wild gear.
“The event came together quickly as part of our commitment to the community.” Explained Coach Yeo. “We’ve supported The Angel Foundation and Miracles of Mitch Foundation in the past and this is a great opportunity help raise awareness and money for both these great charities.” he continued. When asked about his support of cancer charities Coach Yeo explained, “Most of us have been effected by cancer in our lives and supporting families in this struggle is very important for me.” .
Anglers were competing for the best combined bag of five fish. “Our boat had lots of action and we caught tons of fish but couldn't find the big ones.” Said Yeo.
Wild Alumni Darby Hendrickson fished with Coach Yeo, season ticket holder Kurt Casby and his daughter Nicole. “It was a great experience to bring everyone together to talk hockey, fish, and raise money for some great charities.” said Hendrickson. “We caught our limit of bass but won’t be in the money.” He continued.
Both Yeo and Hendrickson expect the event to grow. “We started with six boats and a great sponsor in Gander Mountain and next year hope to grow the event to 25 boats”. Said Yeo.
Team leader Jason Zucker and guests Scott and Nancy Bonnema and from Zimmerman, MN. show off two bass over 3.5 lbs each. The fish on the left was the biggest fish of the day. Nancy won the opportunity to fish by submitted a picture of her in a Wild jersy holding a trophy bass.
Results for the event were as follows (All boats caught a 5-fish limit):
1. Team Justin Fontaine : 13.42 lbs
2. Team Matt Cooke : 12.92 lbs
3. Team Jason Zucker : 12.84 lbs
4. Team Erik Haula : 10.14 lbs
5. Team Keith Ballard : 8.04 lbs
6. Team Mike Yeo : 6.14 lbs
Biggest fish of the day honors went to Team Zucker with a 3.70 lbs bass.
Hunting from an elevated position can be a highly effective method for hunters pursuing wild game such as whitetail deer, elk, turkeys, bear, hogs, etc. Unfortunately this popularity has made treestand accidents one of the most frequent causes of serious injuries or death suffered by hunters. The good news is that the majority of these injuries can be avoided by using proper safety defenses and equipment while climbing, descending, and hunting from elevated stands.
Randi Rowlett is Strapped In and Safe on her Twisted Timber Treestand!
Before you go to hang your stand, get familiar with it and practice hanging the entire set up a few feet off the ground so you know how to anchor it, cinch it, etc. Purchase easy-to-climb and safe ladder steps or a ladder stand. Always put on your harness/safety system while you are still on the ground and have three points of contact whenever you are climbing into and out of your stand. The easiest way to do this is wearing a full body harness with a safety belt. Full-body harnesses with straps encircle the torso, legs, and shoulders allowing a fallen hunter to hang in an upright position. We all know any good plan can go bad, so take the time to make sure to clear the ground area under your tree stand from any protruding branches or sharp objects.
Don’t forget to tell a friend or family member when and where you are going hunting. If possible, leave a note or map marked with your stand location(s) on it in case of emergency. Lastly, remember to be prepared for changes in weather. Lightning can be deadly especially when you are sitting in a tree stand. Bring a ground blind or another back up plan if this is ever a possibility. Your life depends on it!
If you're looking for a locally produced, high-quality treestand, check out Twisted Timber from Mountain Lake.... http://store.twistedtimbertreestands.com/
Wishing you a safe and successful hunt this fall!
Randi Rowlett and Mitch Petrie, Muddy Boot Productions
Spring is in the air and the top item on my hunting Bucket List is scoring my first bow and arrow turkey. I'm a turkey addicted and have chased them with my bow a few times...even managed to miss a couple hard shots and a few easy ones. This year I'm pulling out all the stops. I didn't really need a new bow but my old Bowtech was full of misses. After much deliberation, testing and trial, I picked up a new bow, a Martin Alien Nitro. This bow had the perfect fit, feel and performance for my deer, turkey and bear needs. For accessories I opted to keep it local; I went with an IQ Bowsight from Superior Wisconsin's Field Logic. For the arrow rest, string and VIP setup, I headed north to Ham Lake manufacturer Vapor Trail Archery.
Mitch Petrie Tests His New Martin Alien Bow in his Office!
Vapor Trail is the brain child of Minnesota archery Jarrod Fondie. Jarrod and brother Steve have built a small but high-powered team of archery fanatics who spin strings and assemble arrow rests almost as fast and the sales team can sell them. "The business is really growing nicely" Says Vice President Steve Fondie.
To hang out in their shop for a couple hours is a little like going to happy hour, without the beer. Plenty of conversation, banter and trash talk to go around but it's all in good fun. "Personally, I enjoy meeting the people in the industry and interacting with our customers who all share our passion for archery." Continued Fondie.
The 90 minutes I was there I was taken care of by graphic designer and bow specialist Rick Brule. Rick has been working with bows for the better part of the decade and is one of the most skilled bow technicians in the state. He set up and got me dialed in for my turkey season so no excuses for me. In fact, the the company motto is "Quit Your Crying"; a reference to the folks who would blame their equipment on misses. I no longer have an excuse in my equipment so any misses from here on out will be my own fault!
Spring is in the air and most of my friends have escaped our record-setting Minnesota winter for warmer climates. Our family tradition has been to go north for spring and when we head north, our favorite destination is Walker, MN and Chase on the Lake.
Walker is a quick 3.5 hour drive and Chase on the Lake is a gem on the south shore of Leech Lake. Within 10 minutes of our arrival the kids were in the pool and my wife Kristin and I made happy hour in the 502 Bar to plan our weekend. Kristin prefers to explore Walker and its shops while my boys and I explore the lake.
Hard core Minnesotans know spring is a relative term. At Leech Lake spring means you can swap out your 20" auger extension for a 12" extension!
Aaron Petrie Holds on the our Strikemaster Auger
Ice conditions on Leech are very good. 36" to 42" inches on most areas means your extension is a must. We fished today in 6'-8' of water on Sand Point. My boy Aaron was first on the board with a short but sweet perch.
Aaron is the leader in the clubhouse with first, biggest and most fish of the day!
We sorted through a lot of small ones and fought off a couple northern to land a couple keeper perch this morning. But with 40 degrees and sun, it was ideal spring fishing conditions.
Theo Petrie holds two Leech Lake Jumbo Perch
We're back to the Chase for lunch and a nap, then back to Sand Point for the evening bite. Evening will consist of an epic bowling match at Chase followed by some NCAA basketball. Who needs beaches and heat when the accommodations are luxurious and the fishing is hot! Not bad for a last minute weekend getaway!