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Lund Mania adds energy to NYM's 125th

Registration is open and excitement growing within the organizing committee and Lund officials for the Lund Mania fishing tournament scheduled for July 3 on Otter Tail Lake.

In a joint effort between the community and Lund Boat Company the tournament will coincide with New York Mills' 125th Anniversary "Blast From the Past" Celebration.

The committee met again last week to hammer out details to make this first-time event a success. Michelle Trudeau, the point person from Lund, is working closely with core committee members Josie Hendrickx, Duane Koehler, Al Berube, Larry Hodgson and Todd Cameron to add an exciting element to the July 3rd activities, which include a parade and street dance in NY Mills.

Trudeau wants to bring "high energy" to the planned parade, during which the tournament's top 10 teams will be announced and participate.

The tournament is limited to 50 two-person teams. Following a day of fishing on Otter Tail Lake, the top 10 teams will pull boats in the parade. This boat parade will serve as the official announcement of the winning team. The plan is to crank the music and pump some high energy drama into the event.

"There needs to be entertainment," Trudeau said at the meeting. "We want to blow the people away. They're going to love it."

Tournament organizers secured the necessary permit to host the event a couple weeks ago and are now accepting registration for the Catch, Record and Release format. Andrew Klopak, President of Lund Boat Co., will fish in the tournament and is excited that this is the first CRR tournament to be held in Minnesota.

The idea for the tournament came from the community group, which approached Lund about how to make the event happen.

"Lund has taken the leadership position and we're expanding our relationship with the community," Klopack said. "Tough times brought us together. We are connecting as a community and this tournament is going to put New York Mills on the map."

Klopak supports the CRR format and says this is the direction in which walleye fishing tournaments are headed, adding that Lund is the only boat company to step up and support this type of tournament.

Klopak, an experienced tournament fisherman, said Lund officials have always wanted to have an owner tournament. And he believes in the CRR concept, which strengthens their relationship with fisheries.

Adding to the excitement of the tournament, and with the partnership with Lund, the tournament is bringing in a couple big names in the angling world. Al Lindner and Ted Tagasaki are scheduled to participate. Trudeau is particularly excited, as she is slated to partner with Lindner. With both her and Klopack participating, the friendly verbal sparring has already started.

Registration opened April 2, and as of last week's meeting, 15 teams had signed up to compete. Committee members raised the question to Trudeau whether there was concern the tournament would fill. Trudeau assured them that is not the least bit of concern. Among the early entrants are a number of local teams looking to win their share of over $30,000 in prizes. The top three teams win boat packages, including first prize of a Lund 1600 Alaskan Tiller with 40 ELHPT 4-stroke EFI and Shoreland'r Trailer valued at $16,180.

Second place wins a Lund WC14 Deluxe with 9.9 ELH 4-stroke and Shoreland'r Trailer ($7,153). Third place brings home Lund's new WD14 Utility boat and Shoreland'r Trailer ($3,045). Fourth through 10th place will win donated merchandise valued at over $4,000.

Klopak emphasized this is a community-backed tournament funded through sponsorships, saying it is not costing Lund anything other than providing resources and discounted products. Lund will host the tournament sponsored by local businesses which include Heart of the Lakes Credit Union, Dean's Country Market, Modern Assemblies, Subway, Farmers & Merchants State Bank, NYM Co-op Services, Vaughn Auto and Marine, Rachel Grieger, D.D.S., ACS, and MidState Auto Auction.

Todd Cameron and Scott Perala will co-chair the event. Both are avid fishermen and bring valuable tournament expertise from the area.

Each two-person team will have an official spotter in the boat, who will be in charge of observing the measurement and recording the information. Spotters will be drawn at random and assigned to the teams. Team members will photograph their fish caught for official length, which will be used to determine the winners.

Once the tournament was announced last month, one concern among local fishermen was the idea of being assigned a spotter who may not be accustomed to spending a full day in a boat with strangers, particularly if weather conditions are less than ideal.

Klopak said he does not envision this being an issue, based on his experience in similar tournaments he's competed. Spotters must be 18 or older. Anyone interested in being a volunteer spotter or who wants to register a team should contact Al Berube at F&M State Bank at 385-2300.

Cost of the tournament is $295 per team. Registration deadline is June 1.

Klopak is confident this tournament will be very popular among walleye fishermen and envisions the event growing to 200 teams within a few years.

"The city of New York Mills is pleased to be a part of the fishing tournament hosted by Lund Boat Company. With this being our 125th Anniversary Celebration we want to remain closely associated with Lund as they have been an integral part of our community for more than 60 years," Mayor Larry Hodgson said in a statement on the tournament's information flyer.