Local fishing veterans Strand and Hanson reel in top prize at Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic
If familiarity translates into success, it was only fitting that veteran Bemidji anglers Dave Hanson and Bob Strand captured the championship of Saturday's 10th annual Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic on Lake Bemidji.
A few years ago Strand retired from the DNR Fisheries Division and he was the Bemidji Regional Fisheries Supervisor when he decided to trade the company pen for a fishing pole.
Hanson practically was raised on Lake Bemidji and he knows the habits and haunts of Bemidji walleyes as well as anyone.
"I used to guide on Lake Bemidji 50 years ago," Hanson recalled. "You would think I would have learned something about Lake Bemidji during the past 50 years."
Collectively Strand and Hanson most likely had more years experience fishing Lake Bemidji than any other team in Saturday's event and that knowledge helped them boat 16.03 pounds.
Placing a distant second were Tracy Poge and Erickson with 14.88 pounds.
Mobility was among the keys to success Saturday and once Hanson and Strand found the fish they relied upon the basics - a hook and a worm - to catch them.
"We must have put 500 miles on my boat," Hanson said.
"At our fifth spot we finally started to catch fish. We were in a unique set of cabbage that runs out to nine feet. The key was that on the bottom were a bunch of fist-sized rocks and they added another element of structure."
"I don't think we did anything differently than the other boats around us," Strand said. "There were lots of boats in the area and most of them were rigging red-tails or using a jig and a minnow.
"We fished crawlers on live-bait rigs in the cabbage."
The winning livewell included walleyes that stretched to 24 inches and 23.5 inches. The key to success, however, were the other three fish.
"We had great slot fish," Strand said. "One was 19.75 inches and the other two were 18.5 inches."
Tournament rules limited the teams to five walleyes and state rules dictate that only one walleye per angler can be over 20 inches.
When Hanson and Strand entered the weigh-in area, they knew the leading weight was 14.68 pounds.
And Hanson thought they probably had enough in their basket to overcome that weight.
"I've looked at more than a few walleyes in my life and I felt good about what we had in our basket," Hanson said. "But what I really enjoyed about today is all of the 10 and 11-inch walleyes we caught. Lake Bemidji is a great fishery and those smaller fish tell me that it will remain a great fishery for many years."
Strand and Hanson were rewarded with a $10,000 check. Claiming $1,000 for the largest walleye of the day was Rich Blomberg and his partner who caught a 5.53 walleye.
1-Strand and Hanson, 16.03
2-Poge and Erickson, 14.88
3-Solberg and Schneider, 14.68
4-Jones and Davidson, 13.809
5-Engelsmann and Olson, 13.85
6-Hernesman and Ahlquist, 13.43
7-Vigen and Zastro, 13.33
8-Nelson and Detschman, 13.25
9-Curb and Curb, 13.06
10-Coulter and Hernesman, 12.73
Rich Blomberg, 5.53