Area anglers are off to a strong season
Area fishing teams are off to a strong start this season, with participants in both Kasson-Mantorville and Byron angling their way through tournaments.
In K-M, the Youth Fishing team consists of more than 65 youth anglers ranging in age from first graders all the way through seniors in high school. The team competes at three levels, which include the Youth Team of those in grade first through fifth; the Lund Virtual League for 6th to 12th graders, and the Junior Bass Nation league for the varsity level anglers.
“The Youth Team has been working on a lot of dry-land practices as they learn about safety, conservation, and fishing techniques and also honing their casting and knot tying skills,” said KM Coach Tony Heaser. “Our anglers are getting excited for their first on-the-water event, which will be coming up in a couple of weeks.”
The Lund Virtual League anglers have already competed in two tournaments with several top 100 finishes and one amazing top 20 finish by one of the angler teams. Coach Luke Wrubel said, “This team has shown tremendous growth and we’re very proud of where this program is going.”
The Lund Virtual League consists of more than 40 youth anglers from the K-M area who compete in two-angler teams against more than 200 angler teams from across the state. These anglers have competed on Cedar Lake in the Faribault area as well as Lake Tetonka in Waterville. The next event for this group is next weekend on the mighty Mississippi.
The varsity level Junior Bass Nation anglers have been honing their skills in lots of dry land and on-the-water practice as they prepare for their first Greater Southeast Minnesota Bass Nation Conference event on the mighty Mississippi River next week.
These anglers will compete against more than 35 angler teams to reel in their qualifying spot for the Minnesota Bass Nation High School event held in September. The anglers will have three opportunities this summer to score high enough to lock in that entry, Heaser said.
Coach Kyle Anderson said he is excited and confident his team will be sending anglers to the state tournament in September.
In Byron, the fishing team has also kicked off and its season will run through October with many events and activities planned throughout the summer, said coach Joe Schimek.
The Byron team had their first National Walleye Championship on Mille Lacs Lake on June 5. They had four two-student angler teams participating. Byron had teams place 17th, 31st and 36th in a field of 75 entries. One student angler, Anela Newton, won a $500 scholarship from the Women Anglers of Minnesota for catching the largest walleye in the tournament by a female angler.
“It is really neat, what they do,” Schimek said. “The Byron Fishing Team has a lot of young women and girls on the team competing.”
The Byron team has participated in two Lund Virtual Fishing tournaments with teams placing in the top 20-30 positions and have had a record number of participants in the tournaments with as many as 20 kids participating in a single event. The Lund Virtual Fishing League allows participants five years of age and up to fish, and they can fish with a partner, parent, or another adult on any lake of their choice across the state, Schimek said.
The first 6th through 12th grade Student Angler Tournament Trail event is June 12 on Lake Minnetonka where the Byron Fishing Team will have seven boats and 14 student anglers competing in a field of 192 registered teams consisting of 384 student anglers from around the state. Byron Fishing Team had two boats in the top 25 on Lake Minnetonka in 2021, including a second place finish, so a couple of teams from Byron are hoping for some repeat success.
The Byron Fishing Team will have several more Student Angler Tournament Trail events including Gull Lake, Mississippi River pool 4 and 5, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and the Tournament of Champions on Vermillion if they qualify from any of the regular season events.
The Lund Virtual Fishing League will have four more events throughout the summer, with each tournament giving Byron student anglers the chance to win several prizes. The last tournament of the season is a team event on Big Stone Lake in western Minnesota, in which Byron will send the top six anglers from the season to compete in a tournament as a group against other teams across the state of Minnesota for the State Team Championship, which is a fun event, Schimek said.
“When the summer ends and we go into fall, we will host an awards ceremony with lots of awards, scholarships and prizes handed out to our student anglers to wrap up the season,” he said.