Tournament action starts at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, June 12. Launched in 1986, this is the 34th year that the tournament has been held.

As the years passed, the name changed to the Gene Cirks Memorial Scholarship Fishing Tournament. In 2015, when Kelly Cirks passed away shortly before the tournament, the name was changed to the Cirks Brothers Memorial Fishing Tournament.

Event organizer Jeremy Anderson has been fishing in the tournament since the late 1990s. “We take $10 of each donation to give a $500 donation to the Pam Lindow Scholarship fund for students at Nevis School,” he said.

Even though last year’s tournament was cancelled, a small group of anglers took their boats out that weekend. “We each threw in $10 and measured the three biggest fish in each species just for fun,” said Anderson.

So far 42 teams have registered for this year’s tournament. “We set the maximum number of teams at 50,” Anderson said.

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Catching memories

Anderson said camaraderie among anglers is the biggest part of the tournament. “The older you get, the more you realize that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “When I was younger, I was into the excitement of wanting to do well. Now I’m just happy to be out there on the lake with a bunch of people I know.”

The tournament kicks off with a meeting at the Muskie Park pavilion Friday night. Many of the anglers also come to socialize at the Lions fish fry before the meeting.

“Part of the fun is talking to everyone,”he said. “Some of them you don’t see very often, even if they live around here.”

Tournament action begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

“I think Lake Belle Taine is one of the coolest lakes in the whole area,” Anderson said. “It’s got a lot of character. I think that’s part of what makes the tournament special. It’s not just a bowl. It’s got lots of arms and bays and islands. Even though it’s very populated, there are still 21 beautiful miles of shoreline, lots of trees and clean, clear water. It has pretty darned good fishing overall.”

He said that over the years, the tournament has become a tradition in many families.

“I fished it with my dad, Randy, for years and years,” he said. “He’s going to fish with my brother, Jordan, this year and I’m going to fish it with my wife, Kayla. The last time we fished it together was quite a few years ago. We had three kids, so she usually stayed home with them.”

This year the children, who are 10, 7 and almost 2, will be in the care of their grandparents, who are staying in the area this summer.

While winning is fun, Anderson said it’s not the primary goal for most of the anglers who enter the tournament.

“People want to do well, but most are just happy to be fishing,” he said. “If I see someone catch a big fish, I’m happy for them.”

The tournament is a time to make memories and share stories.

“We talk about how the day went and how you caught fish or didn’t catch them and the huge fish that got off and broke your line, the loon coming up to try and take your lure, dropping a net in the lake. There have been lots of stories like that over the years.”

He said he looks forward to fishing with his daughters and son in the tournament in years to come.

“My son, Sam, isn’t 2 yet, but he already loves the water and boat rides,” he said. “I think he’ll love fishing, too. My daughters, Adeison and Wendy, like to fish off my parents’ dock for bluegills.”

Fishing forecast

Anderson said usually the first part of June is one of the best times to fish due to weed growth and spawning patterns.

“Belle Taine is a great smallmouth bass lake,” he said. “They usually spawn right around the tournament. There have even been years when we cut off entering any because they’re so easy to catch. They guard their nests, and if we take them off their nest and they can’t guard their eggs, that could hurt the population. But this year with the heat, they should be done spawning by the time of the tournament.”

This year’s extreme weather might affect the fishing, though.

“Fish prefer a gradual warming of the water,” he said. “When the temperatures change quickly like they did recently, going from temperatures below freezing some nights to heat in the upper 90s, it takes fish awhile to adjust. The sudden increase in water temperatures might slow down the walleye and pike a bit. It’s a shock to their systems. Bass and panfish are more likely to be biting better during this year’s tournament due to the early spring weather.”

Anderson said the water level on Lake Belle Taine is high this year in contrast to other lakes, where the water is down due to the low levels of precipitation so far this year.

How to enter

Tournament pamphlets with registration information are available at bait shops in Park Rapids and both gas stations/bait shops in Nevis. Registrations can be made by texting or calling Anderson at 218-252-0957. At least one person in the boat needs to be at least 18.