BEMIDJI-Anglers from across the region have their eyes set on a $12,500 prize.
That is only one of 17 cashs prizes up for grabs at the Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic on Saturday, June 8.
The Knights of Columbus Council No. 1544 will be bringing the popular fishing tournament back to the shore of Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving, alongside sponsors and volunteer organizations. In all, 100 two-person teams will participate in attempts to reel in the largest total weight of walleye. Last year's victory went to the father-son duo of Dean and Toby Kvalevog, with a combined weight of 17.6 pounds.
"The Walleye Classic has been a big tradition for Bemidji for 19 years that started with Kraus-Anderson," said Joe Czapiewski, tournament director. "We are proud to continue the tradition Kraus started because this is a premier event for Bemidji but for Northern Minnesota fishing also."
Boats will launch in numerical order from the Lake Bemidji waterfront at 7 a.m., after the national anthem and a prayer.
After the tournament begins more festivities will be starting on the waterfront at 11 a.m. for visitors. This year's activities include bouncy houses, face painting, a fishing pond for youth anglers, a baseball pitching station and a variety of food vendors.
"We got our KC hot dog stand, along with CK Dudley's pulled pork sandwiches, caramel corn and lemonade," Czapiewski said. "It's all good food."
Final weigh-ins will begin at 3:30 p.m. on the south end of Lake Bemidji. The first- through third-place teams will be awarded cash prizes of $12,500, $5,000 and $3,750 during the award ceremony at 5 p.m. Additionally, there will be other prizes available to win sponsored by area businesses. The non-cash prizes include G-Loomis fishing gear, Milwaukee tool packages from Acme Tools and a custom pole from Diamond Custom Rods.
Another popular highlight of the day is the prize raffles that happen at the end of the awards ceremony. This year's raffle prizes are a Lund Fury Boat, Mercury Motor, Shoreland'r trailer by Ray's Sport and Marine and other cash prizes. Tickets can be purchased at the event for $10
The Knights of Columbus have raised more than $700,000 dollars through the Walleye Classic. All proceeds have benefited local charities in Bemidji.
The organization has named 11 beneficiaries for this year's tournament, with proceeds going to the Boy Scouts of America, Bemidji Youth Baseball, Fishing Has No Boundaries, Let's Go Fishing, the Minnesota Department of National Resources, the George Pelawa Foundation, Special Olympics, Take a Kid Fishing, and the Wounded Warriors Guide Service, All-Pro Dads and the Knights of Columbus.
"We come together and work together to put this event on for a good experience, not only for our anglers but for our visitors," Czapiewski said. "It is an incredibly important fundraiser for all those different organizations."
If you go
What: Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic.
When: Saturday, June 8. Boats launch at 7 a.m.; family activities begin at 11 a.m.; weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m. Awards ceremony and raffles awards start at 5 p.m.
Where: Lake Bemidji Waterfront.