Minnesota Chapters of Muskies Inc with support from the Hugh Becker Foundation held the 2017 Minnesota State High School Muskie Tournament on Lake Vermilion. This was the 8th year of this tournament. Tournament headquarters was located at Vermilion Dam Lodge on the north-central part of the lake.
The day started at 6:15 am with guide Bob Benson giving the 12 teams that competed a few pointers on the tournament waters. Lake Vermilion is so large that we limit tournament waters to the western half of Lake Vermilion. Bob gave sound advice in telling the kids to try the 3 options at this time of year: weeds, rocks, and especially open water.
Then director Mike Riha advised participants about the rules, contact information, emergency boats spread about the lake, and keeping any fish caught out of the water for 30 seconds or less. This was a catch, photo, release tournament. No fish are kept. Each team was given a departure number and they left in order.
The weather was cold, cloudy, but thankfully no rain. From 6:30am to 2:30pm the teams tried their best, but alas, as is often the case, the muskies were not cooperative.
Some sad faces coming in turned to glad faces as teams viewed the prize packages waiting for all. Ed Tausk owner and operator of Vermilion Dam Lodge had his chef, Rick, get brats, potato salad, beans, and lemonade ready for the returning participants. They, along with relatives, had a nice meal while Director Riha announced places and prizes.
Every participant received a Plano tackle box with 4 new musky baits. Every participant received a blaze orange Sport-Tek shirt with the Tournament logo.
Winners of the tournament were Hunter Penrose and Rayce Eggebraaten of Parkers Prairie HS located in west-central Minnesota. Both sophomores won by catching the largest Northern Pike of the day. (No muskies were caught on tournament day). They received walnut plaques in the shape of the state of MN and a 9 foot muskie rod each.
Second Place went to Colton Gottwalt and Sam Nagel representing Little Falls High School. They received 2nd place plaques and an 8 foot muskie rod each.
Third place went to Tyler Carlstrom and Jeremy Gilbertson, both seniors, representing Wayzata High School. They also received 3rd place plaques and 7 foot muskie rods each.
Mike Riha would like to thank all the parents and relatives that had to sacrifice time, effort, and treasure to see these kids get a chance to fish a big lake with big fish.
Special thanks go to the adult volunteers who chose to use their valuable resources to help with the tournament. They include: Terry Schar, Nick Poppler, Aaron Peterson, Mark Weiss, Chris Thury, Curt Ellestad, Erin and Josh Knutson, Chris Cochran, Chris Riha, Jim Kath, and the Women Angler’s of Minnesota. Without them the tournament would not happen.
The tournament committee is considering changing the eligibility for the tournament for next year. We are thinking of expanding the tournament to include 7th and 8th graders. If you are reading this and have kids in those grades next year and you think they would be interested in competing send an email next February to the tournament director Mike Riha at email@example.com. If you have an opinion as to whether including these younger kids in our tournament is good or bad and wish to share that with the committee-again send your comments to the tournament director.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to the tournament, contact the director. We always need the financial help and service help as there are no fees charged by the tournament for participation by kids.
Mike Riha Tournament Director. 763-607-2800 firstname.lastname@example.org
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