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Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic helps community

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

On Saturday morning more than 170 of the area's best walleye anglers will head for their favorite hot spots on Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving as part of the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic field. The fishermen will be looking for three walleyes in the 19-inch range and two more that stretch the tape well past the 20-inch mark.

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The team of anglers that is most successful and brings in the heaviest five fish will be rewarded with $12,500. The big winner after the boats return to the Bemidji Waterfront weigh-in area, however, will be the local charities.

"The Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic has become more than a fishing tournament," said event coordinator Bob Fitzgerald. "It is an opportunity to raise money for charity and give back to the community."

The tournament is celebrating its 11th year and during the past decade the KAWC has raised and donated $400,000 to various Bemidji organizations.

Among the beneficiaries have been Fishing Has No Boundaries, Take a Kid Fishing, Let's Go Fishing, the local Scouts, youth hockey, youth baseball, the Special Olympics, the Red Lake Boys & Girls Club and various Bemidji Area DNR Fisheries projects.

As is the case with any successful fundraiser, the people behind the scenes determine if it will grow or if it will die a quick death.

In this case, the former applies and the growth has been rapid.

"We have a committee of about eight people but, literally, there are hundreds of volunteers behind the scenes who transform the tournament into this event," Fitzgerald said.

Because of the volunteers, KAWC officials can return 90 percent of the entry fees to the fishermen, and the ability to accomplish that results in a top-notch field of anglers.

Headlining the 2010 field were veteran tournament fishermen Dave Hanson and Bob Strand. Hanson has spent countless hours tournament fishing and guiding on Bemidji and Irving and Strand knows the lakes intimately through his time angling and also his former position as the DNR region fisheries supervisor based in Bemidji.

"I used to guide on Lake Bemidji 50 years ago," Hanson said. "You would think I would have learned something about Lake Bemidji during that time."

Collectively the anglers caught 16.03 pounds last year and won the tournament. A distant second were Tracy Pogue and Dave Erickson, who boated 14.88 pounds.

Strand and Hanson joined an elite field of KAWC champions which includes some of the best anglers in the area.

The past winners and their weights include:

E 2010: Bob Strand and Dave Hanson, 16.03 pounds.

E 2009: David Carpenter and Bill Litchke, 14.54 pounds.

E 2008: Duane Peterson and Travis Peterson, 16.85 pounds.

E 2007: Kelly Curb and Jim Sutton, 17.04 pounds.

E 2006: Scott Gregerson and Chuck Jordan, 14.92 pounds.

E 2005: Sabin Rasmus and Brian Smith, 14.23 pounds.

E 2004: Steve Holley and Larry Sundquist, 20.46 pounds.

E 2003: Chad Benson and Claton Leeper, 10.75 pounds.

E 2002: Dave Lubke and James Lubke, 14.04 pounds.

E 2001: Harv Lueck and Rick Runquist, 17.13 pounds.

"We're projecting about 85 boats this year and we're very happy with the turnout of anglers, volunteers, the community and the sponsors," Fitzgerald said. "I'm not amazed any more by the volunteers who help, but I am extremely happy with the stewardship the community has demonstrated."

The fishing aspect of the event begins 7 a.m. Saturday and culminates with the 3:30 p.m. weigh-in, but there is more to the KAWC than backtrolling a jig and minnow near the Rock Pile.

Today, the public is invited to watch the Ranger boat parade along Beltrami Avenue and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyone is welcome at the community picnic barbeque at the Waterfront hosted by Keg N' Cork ($10 per plate for adults and $6.50 for children).

Saturday's events include the boat inspections at 5:30 a.m., Joe Vene singing the National Anthem at 6:45 a.m. and a variety of family games beginning at 11 a.m. at the Waterfront.

Among the games will be a laser shooting gallery, football throw, basketball shoot, obstacle course, puck shoot and a casting contest. A food court and root beer floats also will be available.

The public also may take a test ride on a Ranger boat from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Saturday morning more than 170 of the area's best walleye anglers will head for their favorite hot spots on Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving as part of the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic field. The fishermen will be looking for three walleyes in the 19-inch range and two more that stretch the tape well past the 20-inch mark.

The team of anglers that is most successful and brings in the heaviest five fish will be rewarded with $12,500. The big winner after the boats return to the Bemidji Waterfront weigh-in area, however, will be the local charities.

"The Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic has become more than a fishing tournament," said event coordinator Bob Fitzgerald. "It is an opportunity to raise money for charity and give back to the community."

The tournament is celebrating its 11th year and during the past decade the KAWC has raised and donated $400,000 to various Bemidji organizations.

Among the beneficiaries have been Fishing Has No Boundaries, Take a Kid Fishing, Let's Go Fishing, the local Scouts, youth hockey, youth baseball, the Special Olympics, the Red Lake Boys & Girls Club and various Bemidji Area DNR Fisheries projects.

As is the case with any successful fundraiser, the people behind the scenes determine if it will grow or if it will die a quick death.

In this case, the former applies and the growth has been rapid.

"We have a committee of about eight people but, literally, there are hundreds of volunteers behind the scenes who transform the tournament into this event," Fitzgerald said.

Because of the volunteers, KAWC officials can return 90 percent of the entry fees to the fishermen, and the ability to accomplish that results in a top-notch field of anglers.

Headlining the 2010 field were veteran tournament fishermen Dave Hanson and Bob Strand. Hanson has spent countless hours tournament fishing and guiding on Bemidji and Irving and Strand knows the lakes intimately through his time angling and also his former position as the DNR region fisheries supervisor based in Bemidji.

"I used to guide on Lake Bemidji 50 years ago," Hanson said. "You would think I would have learned something about Lake Bemidji during that time."

Collectively the anglers caught 16.03 pounds last year and won the tournament. A distant second were Tracy Pogue and Dave Erickson, who boated 14.88 pounds.

Strand and Hanson joined an elite field of KAWC champions which includes some of the best anglers in the area.

The past winners and their weights include:

- 2010: Bob Strand and Dave Hanson, 16.03 pounds.

- 2009: David Carpenter and Bill Litchke, 14.54 pounds.

- 2008: Duane Peterson and Travis Peterson, 16.85 pounds.

- 2007: Kelly Curb and Jim Sutton, 17.04 pounds.

- 2006: Scott Gregerson and Chuck Jordan, 14.92 pounds.

- 2005: Sabin Rasmus and Brian Smith, 14.23 pounds.

- 2004: Steve Holley and Larry Sundquist, 20.46 pounds.

- 2003: Chad Benson and Claton Leeper, 10.75 pounds.

- 2002: Dave Lubke and James Lubke, 14.04 pounds.

- 2001: Harv Lueck and Rick Runquist, 17.13 pounds.

"We're projecting about 85 boats this year and we're very happy with the turnout of anglers, volunteers, the community and the sponsors," Fitzgerald said. "I'm not amazed any more by the volunteers who help, but I am extremely happy with the stewardship the community has demonstrated."

The fishing aspect of the event begins 7 a.m. Saturday and culminates with the 3:30 p.m. weigh-in, but there is more to the KAWC than backtrolling a jig and minnow near the Rock Pile.

Today, the public is invited to watch the Ranger boat parade along Beltrami Avenue and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyone is welcome at the community picnic barbeque at the Waterfront hosted by Keg N' Cork ($10 per plate for adults and $6.50 for children).

Saturday's events include the boat inspections at 5:30 a.m., Joe Vene singing the National Anthem at 6:45 a.m. and a variety of family games beginning at 11 a.m. at the Waterfront.

Among the games will be a laser shooting gallery, football throw, basketball shoot, obstacle course, puck shoot and a casting contest. A food court and root beer floats also will be available.

The public also may take a test ride on a Ranger boat from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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