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Junior anglers will compete for honors

Zach Jones of Bemidji holds up a smallmouth bass he caught this summer on Blue Lake. Anglers Zach's age are invited to compete in the 14th Annual Jr. Fishing Tournament on Lake Belle Taine this September 12. (Submitted photo)

Next Sunday, September 12 marks the 14th annual Nevis Scholarship Fund Junior Fishing Tournament held on Lake Belle Taine.

The event is for boys and girls 17 years old or younger and at least one member of each two-person team must be 12 years of age or older.

Proper boat operating certification is required in accordance with Minnesota boating laws since the format is unique; two-person teams fish for bass, northern and walleye in a boat without an adult on board. Participants must wear a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device at all times. Anglers 16 years of age or older must also possess a current Minnesota fishing license.

Volunteers from the Park Rapids Bass Club and Northwoods Fishing League patrol the lake, not only to ensure each participant is safe, but also to assist when, for instance, an outboard has trouble starting.

Volunteers also transport each teams fish to the scale throughout the day, so the teams can continually fish instead of repeatedly running to the scale.

Each pound of fish weighed in gives the team one point. A 5-point bonus is given to any team entering all three species: bass, northern and walleye.

The official tournament area is Lake Belle Taine and its contiguous bays up to the Heartland Trail bridge.

Entry fee is $35 per team and the prizes awarded at the end of the tournament are impressive. There are awards for the top five finishing teams, largest fish of each species and a mountain of door prizes. Every angler goes home a winner in this event.

In addition to a $200 first place check, the 2010 Nevis Scholarship Fund Junior Fishing Tournament champions will have their names engraved on the face of the Conset Cup, a trophy displaying the past champions, named after an island on Lake Belle Taine.

The day starts with a pre-tournament meeting at 8:30 (donuts, juice and coffee will be available) and official take off at 9 a.m. from the public access on Lake Belle Taine.

Two team numbers are drawn simultaneously as anglers stand on the shoreline. When a team number is drawn, the teams sprint to their watercraft, start the engine and take off. The excitement and anxiety is palpable.

Fishing continues until 3 p.m. with an awards ceremony to follow. The public is invited to stop down at the Lake Belle Taine access anytime throughout the day to see how the teams are faring and of course for the awards ceremony following the tournament.

Last year's champions, Gabby and Isaac Johnson, entered enough weight to win the tournament, edging out 2008 champions Aaron and Nick Pappas by a mere 0.10 pounds. Gabby was also the first female to ever win the event. Both teams will return to compete in this year's tournament.

Proceeds from the event aid Nevis School graduates pursuing higher education through the Nevis chapter of Dollars for Scholars.

Additional information regarding the Nevis Scholarship Fund Junior Fishing Tournament can be obtained by contacting Alex Magaard at 252-0240.