Best for last!: Kvalevogs are final team to weigh-in, and they win KC Walleye Classic
BEMIDJI -- The final five fishing teams played musical chairs as the Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic drew to an end Saturday in Bemidji.
For most of the weigh-in, the team of Carl Knutson and Brad Davis were in the lead, but were knocked from the top spots as the last five boat’s killer walleyes were logged in at the waterfront of Lake Bemidji.
The crowd was in uproar as weigh-in after weigh-in grew larger than the last, with the victory going to the father and son duo of Dean and Toby Kvalevog, with a combined weight of 17.6 pounds of walleye, earning them a whopping $12,500 prize.
It was fitting as the Kvalevog duo was the last team to weigh in their catch, and their biggest fish was 6.39 pounds.
“We caught some but not the right ones,” was an often heard refrain on Sunday as the fishermen weighed their catches ranging between three to 10 pounds. And that same line was just leaving Toby’s lips when the crowd lit up with cheers as they read off the numbers on the scale.
“I didn’t think we got 14 (pounds),” laughed Toby, as he and Dean relished in the welcome surprise, knocking Chris Haley and Jerry Bergeron, with a total of 16.17 pounds, into second place to end the contest.
Third place for the tournament went to Terry and Nick Peterson with a total of 14.81 pounds, fourth place went to Bill Lundy and Bruce Jean with 14.78 pounds, and the team of Knutson and Davis finished fifth with 14.12 pounds.
The Kvalevogs recently took part in the fishing tournament in Leech Lake, where they took third place. After participating in the Saturday’s Walleye Classic, Dean told his son and others that he was retiring. But after Toby told his father there’s never been back-to-back champions in the 18 years of the tournament, Dean said, “I’m coming back!” While Dean still lives in Bemidji, Toby now lives in Brainerd.
Cash prizes were awarded to the top 15 places for the tournament, which featured 100 2-person teams. Teams placing 16th and below had a chance to win various prizes from tournament sponsors. This year’s event had more than 50 sponsors, a record, organizers said.
The official list of results will be released at kcwalleyeclassic.com on Sunday, officials said.
Along with the fishing, the event took over the waterfront on Lake Bemidji for most of Saturday, with food vendors and activities for families.
The Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic also is known for its big raffle drawing. And the winner of this year’s big prize, a Lund boat, Mercury motor and Shoreland’r trailer from Ray’s Sport and Marine, was Michelle Choc-Binkley of Bemidji.
A charitable event, proceeds from the tournament will be used to benefit 10 local nonprofit organizations: Bemidji Youth Baseball; Boy Scouts of America; Let’s Go Fishing; Fishing Has No Boundaries; Take A Kid Fishing; All Pro Dads; Special Olympics; George Pelawa Foundation; Wounded Warrior Guide Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
And, at the end of the tournament, Toby Kvalevog, who works as a fishing guide in the Leech Lake area, encouraged the crowd to take part in the annual Take A Kid Fishing program in Bemidji, where he started out as guide.
“The next kid you take fishing could end up on this stage,” he said.