Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Hometown volunteer the face of North Dakota Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby

The Governor's Cup is the largest and longest running of any fishing tournament in the state. (Visit Garrison, North Dakota photo)

GARRISON, N.D. — She has become the face of the North Dakota Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby. Years of volunteerism can result in such things, but that’s more than fine for Joyce Pfliger.

“I love it. Great people. Great people,” said Pfliger. “There’s been a lot of people that have come to fish over the years that have ended up being friends of mine.”

The Governor’s Cup is the largest and longest running of any fishing tournament in the state. It started in 1974. Pfliger got involved in the event in 1984.

“I helped go out and collect prizes for the fishermen and eventually was put on as one of the members of the committee. I was secretary,” recalled Pfliger.

When long-time tournament director Jim Fisher passed away in 2005, the Governor’s Cup Committee turned to Pfliger to fill the void. She’s been at the helm ever since. This year’s tourney field, 152 two-person teams, filled the first day entries were accepted, the Minot Daily News reported. The waiting list has reached 42 and is likely to grow.

“I actually had a call from a guy last week who wanted to send an application in. He wanted to be added to the list,” said Pfliger.

This year’s Governor’s Cup is scheduled for July 20-21. It annually attracts an impressive field of anglers, most of whom live within driving distance of Lake Sakakawea and enjoy the competition and the friendships. Many of the teams are made up of members of the same family.

“They look forward to coming back every year,” said Pfliger with a smile.

Pfliger, who was born and raised about 13 miles east of Garrison near Lake Audubon, encourages those who have never experienced the Governor’s Cup to put it on their list of things to see. A don’t miss, she said, is when the horn sounds to start the tournament and flights of boats explode out of Garrison Bay at Fort Stevenson State Park.

Later the fishermen will return to the boat ramp and tow their boats to Garrison’s City Park where a large crowd is gathered to witness the daily weigh-in. It’s a wonderful event that brings hundreds of people to Garrison. It showcases the best of what a small town can offer.

“It shows what Garrison is,” said Pfliger. “Garrison people are friendly. I think they are very welcoming to any people who are coming for our activities, such as the Governor’s Cup and our Dickens Festival. All those things. We have lots of good events that go on.”

A remark commonly heard by onlookers and participants in the Governor’s Cup is that they can’t believe how smoothly the major event is run. Pfliger is quick to credit her fellow volunteers.

“There’s a lot of great people in Garrison that volunteer to do things. We have some dedicated volunteers. Everybody knows their job and they do it,” remarked Pfliger. “We kind of rely on them every year.”

In addition to playing a lead role in the annual Governor’s Cup, Pfliger maintains a board position on the Fishing Hall of Fame located at North Country Marine in Garrison. The organization was reorganized three years ago after several years of inactivity. Now, with Pfliger’s help, the Fishing Hall of Fame is becoming recognized by fishermen all across the state.

“Things are back up and we are getting inductees,” said Pfliger. “I think that’s great. Wonderful.”

Pfliger said she “loves to fish,” but is very busy with others things. She has a large farmyard to mow and keep up and remains very involved in her work. She is a nurse at the Garrison Hospital.

“I’m pretty much into my work. I like that job,” said Pfliger.

As a nurse she still gets to see at least some attachment to fishing while on duty. Fishermen frequent the hospital’s emergency room to have hooks removed.

“That’s a big thing during the summer,” noted Pfliger.

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