Anglers from all over traveled to Devils Lake this past weekend to participate in the 2013 Angler Young Angler Tournament, but it was a local team that ended up taking home the grand prize.
After a full eight hours of fishing, the three-man team of Cory Anderson, Wyatt Ziegler and Matt Schindele, all of whom are Devils Lake natives, weighed in with over 16 pounds of walleye in what was the last bag to be submitted to the stage.
The trio has already registered a few top-ten finishes in years past with this being their first time winning the tournament. But according to all three of them, they didn’t come in expecting to take first.
“In a tourney, if you fish enough of them, you fish hard, get lucky,” Anderson said. “You can always win, and you never know until you come in. So you don’t even want to think about that when you’re in the boat.”
The three-man team had plenty to do while they were on the water, especially in the tournament’s latter stages.
Fishermen were given eight hours to fish, either between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., or 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and according to Anderson, a majority of their keepers were caught with less than two hours to go.
“We were crankin’ the weedline,” he said. “We weren’t doing well early. We went over to the windiest side of the lake and started hitting them there.”
Their lures of choice were number-six shap raps, with no particular color preference. Their biggest fish of the day, a 24-incher, was caught on a bleeding hot chartruese crankbait.
Anderson, Ziegler and Schindele were gifted a brand-new Lund A-12 boat, a five-horsepower Mercury engine and aShoreland’r trailer. Additionally, this Devils Lake trio will now be invited to represent North Dakota at the 2013 Angler and Young Angler International Championship in Kenora, Ontario.
Like this tournament, these three fishermen won’t be heading up to Canada expecting to become international fishing champions, but like they said, “fish hard, get lucky.”
“Hey, anything’s possible,” Ziegler said.
In addition to the prizes handed out to the tournament champions, dozens of other prizes and awards were handed out to all participants, prizes which included digital cameras, guided fishing trips and resort stays, among others.
The award for the biggest fish caught was given to Marshall, Minn. native Brandon VanOverbeke, who is a five-time participant in this tournament along with his dad and brother. The award-winning walleye came in at over five-and-a-half pounds, which accounted for over half of his team’s total weight.
Page 2 of 2 - Caught in the south end of the lake in about 23 feet of water, it was the largest fish he’d ever caught for this particular tournament. But according to him, he had an even bigger one on that spit out his hook and got away.
If that had been the case, it certainly could have propelled them into a top-three position. Nevertheless, the VanOverbekes still finished the day with a more than respectable top-10 performance.
Hannah Pierson, another multi-year participant in the tournament, won her second consecutive individual honor by finishing with the biggest fish caught by a female angler. Pierson won the largest fish award in 2012 after hooking a walleye that exceeded seven pounds.
The tournament is something that all involved seem to take a liking to, evidenced by how many of the teams return year after year as well as the volunteers who help organize and execute the tournament itself.
“This event is to give young anglers an opportunity to participate in a pro-style tournament,” said Kyle Agre, co-tournament director and vice president of the FM Walleyes Unlimited club. “It’s completely dependent on volunteers, and it’s all focused on the kids here today."