Minnesota Fishing Challenge teams raise $500,000-plus in 2022

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Al Lindner and partner Jamison Sieffert finished 10th in the Walleye Division.

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge has a long history of helping people break free from the chains of addiction and restoring broken families. The Minnesota Fishing Challenge is one of the largest fundraisers that help fund this good work each year.

Leading up to the 2022 event on June 4, anglers raised more than $512,000 to support MNTC drug and alcohol programs statewide. The cumulative amount generated via this family-friendly tournament since 2008 exceeds $3.5 million. The hard work of top fundraisers Stu Nelson and Rich Brummer from Cloquet brought in $118,000. In all, 23 of the teams raised at least $3,000 to support the great work done by MNTC.

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Adam Brewer of Moorhead hoists the kind of walleyes that have made Gull Lake famous.

Beautiful spring weather and good fishing conditions made for a good day on the water. The 262 anglers fishing the 14th annual Fleet Farm Minnesota Fishing Challenge, a multi-species, fundraising fishing tournament, Saturday June 4, found friendly waters on the Gull Lake chain of lakes near Brainerd.

“This event attracts people from all walks of life with one goal in common: to save lives,” said tournament director Bernie Barringer. “From professional anglers and fishing celebrities to youth and seniors, those fishing this event are focused on fun and raising important funds for an amazing cause: saving the lives of people trapped in chemical addiction.”

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Anglers of all ages come out to support Teen Challenge and catch fish in the event. Theo Harper is excited to bring his bass to the weigh-in.

Tournament host Al Lindner observed, “I want to personally thank the participants and the entire community for helping make this event a huge success and for their continued support of the lives that are impacted by Teen Challenge.”

Three top three student-angler teams won $1,000 college scholarships from Sea Foam. In all, 50 teams earned a trip through the prize tent, the top 10 in each of the five divisions.

The Navillus Land Company Walleye Division produced many walleyes of all sizes. Taking honors and the first place trophy was Joshua Johnson and of Cambridge and David Wagner of Brainerd with 12.96 pounds for their best three fish.

The Nisswa Lions Panfish Division (three panfish) was difficult to win this year as the crappies were hard to find due to the unusual spring weather. Partners Justin Chromy and Anthony Maule of Brainerd came in with three crappies weighing 4.92 pounds.

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Mike Koehler of Ramsey and Dan Sills of Elk River finished 3rd in the mixed bag division with their nice catch of five different species.

The Lindner Media Bass Division featured the weights of the top three bass brought in. A good bass bite saw many limits come across the scales, but McKinley Anderson and Corey Collins of Monticello bested the field with 11.84 pounds for their top three fish.

The Nor-Son Pike Division winners, Caden Bigelbach and Brian Miller of Prior Lake brought a 7.82-pound trophy to the scales. The Fishing Challenge pike limit is one fish. Fewer pike were caught and released in the tournament than in previous years. Only seven teams weighed in a pike in the division.

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Crowds of anglers and families gather on the beach at Cragun’s to see the results of the fishing tournament and hear testimonials of people impacted by Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

The challenging General Rental Mixed Bag Division consists of one pike, one walleye, one bass and one panfish. Only 10 teams managed to get all four species. Perennial top ten team Philip and Timothy Yeh from Nisswa brought in one of each for a total of 15.9 pounds.

The Woods to Water Real Estate Big Walleye Award went to Russ Pogatchnik of St. Cloud for his 7.1-pound walleye. The McDonald’s Big Bass Award went to Steve Cruikshank of Andover for a huge bigmouth weighing 4.88 pounds.

The Beaudry Oil and Propane “Ugliest Fish” Category which went to a team who brought in a one-eyed, battle scarred pike that was released back into the lake out of respect for his toughness. He wins a plaque and bragging rights for the year.

Each team that raised at least $500 was entered into a drawing for a new Lund boat powered by Mercury and outfitted with Humminbird and Minn Kota electronics. The $25,000 rig was won by the team of Neil Ericson of Welcome and Bob Evelsizer of  Fairmont.

The 2023 fundraising tournament event will be held on Saturday, June 3. For more information, additional details and photos, go to www.fishingchallenge.org

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