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Gabie, left, and Isaac, right, Johnson won the 13th annual Nevis Scholarship Fund Jr. Fishing Tournament on Lake Belle Taine last Sunday. Their names will be added to the past tournament champions on the Conset Cup. Also pictured is tournament director Alex Magaard. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Dock Talk: Kids shine at young anglers tournament

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Winning a fishing tournament is both a thrill and a major accomplishment. During last Sunday's 13th Annual Nevis Scholarship Fund's Jr. Fishing Tournament, two young Park Rapids anglers experienced that thrill and made history at the same time.

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Gabie and Isaac Johnson, a sibling duo, topped the 12-team field on Lake Belle Taine, landing 21.10 pounds of largemouth bass to have their names added to the past winners on the coveted Conset Cup, the tournament's icon trophy named after one of Belle Taine's legendary islands. And for the first time in the event's history, the name of a female angler was added to that group of champions.

Gabie, a sixth grade student at Century Middle School and brother Isaac, a fifth grader, have been fishing since they were each about 5 years old. They frequently pair up to fish together on the Fish Hook River, often times searching for largemouth bass in a small boat set up specifically for them to use. But Saturday was their first tournament together.

Although they're young, Gabie and Isaac are two very good anglers. Of course it helps to have good instruction. Their dad, Mike Johnson, who owns Johnson's on the Water in Dorset, is an avid fisherman. Their mother, Susie Barr, is also an accomplished angler. In fact Susie and husband Kenny Barr won a bass tournament on North and South Twin Lakes near Naytahwaush the day before Gabie and Isaac claimed victory on Belle Taine.

When asked about any sibling rivalry in the boat during tournament hours, Gabie stated that they, "really didn't argue or disagree, we just kept netting each other's fish." Gabie and Isaac have been repeatedly asked by friends as to who caught more fish, but neither angler can recall the tally. "We didn't count them, we just kept catching them," said Gabie.

Finishing in second place with 21.08 lbs., a mere .02 lbs behind the Johnson's were 2008 champions Nick and Aaron Pappas of Park Rapids. The Pappas brothers also entered a 2.22lb northern pike, the largest of the event.

Third place went to Matt Gustafson and Matt Halik of Nevis, who weighed 16.19 lbs of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike combined.

Finishing fourth were Steve Weller and Jacob Hein of Park Rapids with 7.32 lbs. Nevis anglers Zach Anderson and Jordan Feder rounded out the top 5 with 6.7 lbs.

Jordan Jones and Blake Murphy of Detroit Lakes caught the largest bass of the event, a 2.27lb smallmouth.

Tournament organizer Alex Magaard was extremely grateful for the numerous volunteers who gave their time to assist with the tournament and for the many individuals and businesses who donated money and prizes for the kids.

The 2010 Nevis Scholarship Fund Jr. Fishing Tournament will be held on Sunday, September 12. None of the past winners etched on the Conset Cup have ever repeated as champions, so both the Johnson's and the Pappas' have a chance to make Junior Tournament history again next year.

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