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Outlasting the field: Leeper, Benson capture Newell Memorial title

Chuck Geller hoists a pair of walleyes he and teammate Mike Geller caught during Saturday's Eagles fishing tournament on Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving. The fish weighed 12.41 pounds and the larger walleye, a 7.93-pound fish, proved to be the heaviest caught in the tournament. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller

Bucky Leeper and Chad Benson of Bemidji outlasted a 54-team field to capture Saturday's Bemidji Eagles Gary Newell Memorial walleye fishing tournament.

"Considering the economy, having 54 boats is a great turnout," said Dick Jacobson, president of the Eagles Club. "I was very happy with the number of entrants and how everybody pitched in to make the most of the day. It was a very successful tournament."

Leeper and Benson weighed 14.23 pounds on a day when the wind blew and the waves pounded the boats and the fishermen.

Rick and Rory Whittington captured second place with 13.55 pounds while Al Kendall and Kevin Schuver finished third with 13.45 pound.s

Rounding out the top five were Tim Vigen and Jon Zastrow with 13.21 pounds and Joe Edlund and Dan Posner with 13.02 pounds.

"It was tough fishing conditions but everybody lasted the day," Jacobson said.

Of the 54 teams, 36 returned to the weigh area with walleyes. The largest fish weighed 7.93 pounds and was caught by Chuck and Mike Geller. They also boated a 4.48-pound fish but, unfortunately for them, they were unable to catch any other walleyes above the 14-inch tournament minimum.

"We caught one of the fish with a redtail and the other on a creek chub," Chuck Geller said. "They both came in 10 feet of water. It's very seldom that you get two big ones like this and nothing between 14 and 20 inches."

The windy conditions must have kept the water aerated in every boat's livewell as only two tournament fish did not survive, according to Jacobson. They were donated to the fall fish fry sponsored by the Cancer Walk Society.

Bemidji Eagles-Gary Newell

Memorial Walleye Tournament

Top-15 Finishers

1-Bucky Leeper and Chad Benson, 14.23 pounds

2-Rick Whittington and Rory Whittington, 13.55 pounds

3-Al Kendall and Kevin Schuver, 13.45 pounds

4-Tim Vigen and Jon Zastrow, 13.21 pounds

5-Joe Edlund and Dan Posner, 13.02 pounds

6-Patrick Boes and Dick Boes, 12.92 pounds

7-Dan Ahlquist and Joe Ahlquist, 12.47 pounds

8-Chuck Geller and Mike Geller, 12.41 pounds

9-Nate Hurlbert and Roger White, 11.25 pounds

10-Craig Peterson and Dan Rude, 10.84 pounds

11-Mike Holter and Mitch Holter, 10.31 pounds

12-Brad Davis and Dave Tisdale, 10.15 pounds

13-Mike McKee and Brian Kirkpatrick, 9.82 pounds

14-Brian Johnson and Matt Phelps, 9.78 pounds

15-Brian Davis and Randy Tisdale, 9.66 pounds

Tournament's Big Fish

Chuck Geller and Mike Geller, 7.93 pounds

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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