Reeling in another successful year

RECEIVING SCHOLARSHIPS TOTALING $11,000 after the 11th-annual Angler Young Angler Fishing Tournament in Green Lake are, front row, from left, Blake Meiborg, Jackson Kuehn, Gil Leben, Hunter Judas, Kolsen Whitchouse; back row, Derek Zamzow, Zack Gedville, Max Vande Slunt, Justin Malatia and Caden De Maa. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

The 11th-annual Angler Young Angler Fishing Tournament gave 94 children the opportunity to build lifelong memories out on the water.

The event handed out $11,000 in scholarships and gave youngsters the opportunity to go through the same process they would in a professional fishing tournament Saturday, June 15 at Deacon Mills Park in Green Lake.

Ninety-Four youngsters competed in the 11th-annual Angler Young Angler Fishing Tournament. submitted photo

“The kids, they go through all the phases, they come the evening before the tournament for the rules meeting, like the professionals do,” event director Chuck Hurley said. “They have a start in the morning where they all take off and go to their spots and they have a deadline when they have to be back. What differentiates this from other youth events is that there is the weigh-in.”

After the weigh-in, participants get up on stage. While the tournament did have a winning boat, as well as individual winners, each participant received prizes that included a trophy,  rod, reel, tackle and tackle bag.

Each team was allowed to bring in five smallmouth bass, and the one with the heaviest haul was deemed the winner.

Each angler on the winning boat received a champions’ trophy, the adult captain received a plaque, and each of the young anglers received a $1,500 scholarship as well as their names engraved on a trophy inside Norton’s Dry Dock.

The winning team was comprised of captain Adam Vande Slunt, young angler Max Vande Slunt and his friend Caden De Maa. It finished with a total weight of 15.44 pounds, almost 2 pounds more than the next highest weight.

“They caught some nice size fish; they did a fantastic job,” Hurley said.

A team of anglers cast their lines and begin fishing for smallmouth bass. submitted photo

While there is a champion, the event also recognized the individual boy and girl who caught the heaviest single-weight smallmouth bass.

Taking home honors for the boys was Logan Moser with a 4.52 pound bass, while Siera Whiting reeled in a 3 pound bass to lead the girls.

Eight $1,000 scholarships also were awarded to randomly drawn contestants.

Hurley had participated in the event as both a fisherman and a volunteer before, but this year was his first year as the event director.

He inherited the event after purchasing Norton’s Dry Dock, as the business has traditionally been responsible for hosting the tournament.

“It’s fun to put on whether you’re participating or whether you’re hosting it,” he said. “When you’re participating in it your kids are having a great time and enjoying it and when you’re hosting it you get to see a number of kids participating and having a good time.”

Hurley finds running the event rewarding because he enjoys helping youngsters build lasting memories.

“I think it’s the experience of a lifetime for a young kid,” he said. “When they’re standing on stage and being handed a trophy and their parents, and grandparents and siblings are running up with their phones taking pictures, it makes them feel really special.”