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Voyageur's Best Sports of 2002

Fishing is a family affair

Fishing is a family affair
Two families win big
by John Grones and Cynthia Brekke  | June 11, 2002

At the McGregor Area Lakes Fishing contest, it was all about the pursuit of the big one – or maybe, the one that got away last year. Over 150 teams cast their boats and their fishing lines into the waters of Big Sandy, Minnewawa, and Horseshoe Lake at 9 a.m. on Sat., June 1.

Two early bird registrations each hooked $100 gift certificates from Willey’s Sport Shop and Big Sandy Sports. The team winners were: Bob Perron and Dan Hendrickson; Gene and Patti Scharfencamp. Additional prizes were called off during the final weigh-in at Minnewawa Sportsman’s Club. All in all, the McGregor Chamber-sponsored tournament was a great success.

All in the family

This year’s fishing contest was marked by family traditions. Two families, fishing the opposite species of fish, took home the bulk of the prize money. It was the Wallin family which placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the walleyes. The Northern category was won by Fred Gunther and Tim Runowski. A nephew, Michael Lohrke and his partner, Michael Anderson took second.

For the Wallin family, the tradition began at the FIRST annual fishing tournament. Cliff Wallin hooked the first-place northern, which weighed in at 10 lb., 2 oz. back in 1983. For the family, the tournament has turned into an annual holiday. “We all gear up for it. We sometimes have as many as seven boats,” commented one member of the group.

Doing the math

All together, the Wallin family netted approximately 39 pounds of walleyes off of Lake Minnewawa, where they own cabins and put their boats to shore. The ony hint they would disclose, as to their ‘hot spot’, was that it was near shallow, sunken islands in about seven feet of water. “Dynamite works the best,” joked one, while another quipped that DuPont was better. All kidding aside, these fisherman take their sport quite seriously.

Winners aren’t choosy

This year’s largest walleye was caught by Chad Anderson. He and his partner, Tim Urness, had the second place stringer for northerns last year. In 2002, they were, again, fishing northerns when Chad accidently hooked the largest walleye, weighing in at 4.67 pounds. According to Chad, he was using a spinner bait and just got lucky.

Yet another family

Fred Guenther and his partner ong time friend, Tim Rinowski, fished northerns on Lake Minnewawa where they, too, have cabins. Their stringer of 26.22 pounds also contained the largest northern, weighing in at 10.98 pounds. They were caught using a pulsator spinner bait in emerging, cabbage weeds. This team is no stranger to the contest either, earning three, first-place finishes over the 19 year history of the event.

The fishing contest has turned into a tradition for both families as well. “We’ve been teaching our kids how to fish,” Tim remarked. “Now they’re the competition!” The fun, family tradition now includes as many as eight teams.

It’s all relative

The second place northern stringer went to Michael Lohrke and Michael Anderson, but it’s Lohrke with ties to one of the families. He’s Fred’s son’s brother-in-law. “Yeah, Mike’s in his first tournament. He borrows my boat, asks the family where to go, and then comes in with second place!”

“We told him about structure, showed him on the map
Mike’s take on it? “Well, not really... well, I guess. Actually, we have a secret spot,” he said.

Fred is a big supporter of the contest and his family is big on conservation. “We have been practicing catch and release before it was popular,” he said. “Ninety percent of the fish we catch goes back into the lake.”

Right now, Fred’s biggest concern is the fact that the big fish caught in the tournament never make it, because of the second weigh in station. He feels the the chance for both lakes to come together and see how everybody faired is great. “We just need a way to figure out a way to save the big fish.”

This article first appeared in the June 11, 2002 issue of the Voyageur Press.