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Fishing challenge breaks fundraising records

Records were broken on Gull Lake this past weekend. A record number of fishing teams - 125 teams - participated in the Minnesota Fishing Challenge presented by Mills Fleet Farm. Anglers of all ages and all skill levels were fishing for more than ...

T.J. Ringer, 9, and sister Ella, 7, display the big bass of the event - 4.27 pounds. They were fishing with their dad Kolt and are from Deephaven.
T.J. Ringer, 9, and sister Ella, 7, display the big bass of the event - 4.27 pounds. They were fishing with their dad Kolt and are from Deephaven.

Records were broken on Gull Lake this past weekend. A record number of fishing teams - 125 teams - participated in the Minnesota Fishing Challenge presented by Mills Fleet Farm. Anglers of all ages and all skill levels were fishing for more than fish. They were raising funds for MN Adult & Teen Challenge programs throughout the state, and they set new records in total funds raised.

"It's amazing to see how hard fishermen worked and put their hearts into efforts that resulted in nearly $270,000 for Teen Challenge," said Al Lindner, event host from the stage Saturday. The multi-species fishing tournament benefits addiction treatment programs in Brainerd, Duluth, Minneapolis and Rochester. The mission of MN Adult & Teen Challenge (mntc.org) is to assist teens and adults to gain freedom from chemical addictions and other life-controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Residents performed a live concert on Cragun's Resort beach and described how their drug and alcohol addictions were being successfully treated.

Fishing results were impressive despite a cool, blustery day, but the pre-tournament fundraising efforts of the 125 teams set all-time records, highlighted by the Cloquet team of Rich Brummer and Stu Nelson with an individual team record $76,000. James Madigan, Baxter and Brian Miller, Eden Prairie, raised $24,000 for second place. Den and Mike Pluimer, Breezy Point, raised $12,000 for third. All won fishing trips with "Walleye" Dan Eigen and Al and Ron Lindner.

Winners of the Nor-Son northern pike division were Nancy and Tony Schmitt, St. Cloud, fishing their first Minnesota Fishing Challenge. Their tournament limit of one pike weighed 14.12 pounds and was caught a few hundred yards from Cragun's Resort. The team of Al Lindner, Brainerd and Ty Sjodin, Crosby, won the Navillus Land Company walleye division with three walleyes on their only three walleye bites of the day for 10.89 pounds.

Matt and son Tyler Suchla, St Michael, took top honors in the Nor-Son panfish division with three crappies weighing 4.85 pounds. The Lindner Media/Lindner's Angling Edge TV bass division with three bass weighing 10.30 pounds went to Eric Olson, Red Wing and Mark Schutz, Brooklyn Park. McDonald's Big Bass honors went to 9-year-old T.J. Ringer, fishing with 7-year-old sister Ella and dad Kolt from Deephaven. His bass pulled the scales to 4.27 pounds.

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The Sportech mixed bag division (one each pike, bass, walleye and panfish) first-place team with 15.06 pounds was Dennis Jack and Luke Patton, Fort Ripley. They also landed the Full Throttle big walleye at 7.51 pounds.

The top 10 teams in each division won top-of-the-line merchandise prizes, mostly donated by professional fishermen and members of the National Professional Anglers Association. Two teams in each division won Sea Foam Second Chance awards consisting of Sea Foam and Lindner Media products.

Dozens of special prizes were awarded including a trip for the Ringers to Canada's Witch Bay Camp on Lake of the Woods. The early bird entry prize of a fishing week at Pasha Lake Cabins north of Thunder Bay, Ontario was won by Mark Langer, Nisswa. Every youngster entered from kindergarten to 12th grade won significant prizes including five Mathews bows, donated by Flatline Outdoors and Nystrom and Associates. Bruce Sanders and Jack Baas, St. Cloud, won the AquaVu Early Bird stay at Gull Lake's Sandy Beach Resort.

Photos, results and more information about the Minnesota Fishing Challenge is located at mntc.org/fishingchallenge.

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