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Johnsons win; bass on the prowl

Isaac and Gabie Johnson hoist the Conset Cup victoriously after winning the 17th annual Nevis Dollars for Scholars Junior Fishing Tournament. The sibling team set a new record with over 65 pounds of bass and northern pike. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

The 17th annual Nevis Dollars for Scholars Junior Fishing Tournament was held last Sunday, Sept. 8 on Lake Belle Taine.

Fourteen youth teams competed in boats with no adult on board, trying their best to land largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye.

At the end of the day, Gabie and Isaac Johnson of Park Rapids had set a new tournament record for total weight. The duo wrangled 65.73 pounds of northern pike and bass to earn the $200 first place prize and have their names emblazoned on the coveted Conset Cup, the event’s trophy named after a historic island on Lake Belle Taine.

Hunter Mitchell and Andre Schaum entered 46.08 lbs. for second place while Keifer Miller and A.J. Pappas took third with 39.71 pounds. Miller and Pappas weighed the only two walleye of the event, earning a 5 point bonus for entering all three species. Their largest walleye weighed 2.23 pounds.

Historically, both of the trailing teams would’ve had enough weight to finish first in a typical year. This year the Johnsons banked an incredible bag of fish. Any adult angler would covet the number and size of fish the 2013 Champions landed.

Bryce Brovitch and Zane Berg took fourth place with a highly respectable 19.16 pounds. Caden Kramer and Casey Wold finished off the payout places, landing fifth place with a total of 17.88 pounds.

The team of Mitchell and Schaum weighed the largest northern pike (5.04) and largest bass (3.98).

Tournament organizers were pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm of the youth anglers. “It’s so much fun watching the kids get excited when they catch a good fish,” commented one volunteer.

Organizers also thanked the numerous community volunteers and businesses who donated food and prizes to the event. “This event wouldn’t be possible without everyone who dedicated their time to help out.”

All proceeds from the event benefit the Nevis Dollars for Scholars organization.

These youth anglers were able to enter smallmouth bass in the tournament, but beyond the tournament day, Sept. 8, all smallmouth bass caught by any angler throughout the state of Minnesota must be immediately returned to the water. The rule was initiated to protect smallmouth bass that annually travel migratory routes toward regions acceptable for winter survival.

That means if you catch a smallmouth today, you have to let it go, even if it’s a trophy. Smallmouth are catch-and-release until late May 2014.

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are very active during the fall. Largemouth tend to gravitate toward shallow water areas, usually less than 6-feet deep with vegetation such as lily pads, bulrushes and pencil reeds.

One of the best days to fish is the first morning the air temperature dips below freezing. The cold-blooded amphibians like frogs find respite in the slow changing temperature of the lake.

Bass will pile up along the shoreline drop-offs and alongside the perimeter of reed beds.

Cast a 3/8 ounce Northland Fishing Tackle Jungle Jig with a plastic trailer to catch the big, stealthy bass.