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Minnesota Fishing Challenge Sets Yet Another New Record

When you combine faith and fishing, amazing things happen. The Fleet Farm Minnesota Fishing Challenge took place on Gull Lake June 3, with many fish brought to the scales and many anglers raising funds to give hope to those people trapped in addiction, through the services of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge.

Now the largest fundraising fishing tournament in North America, the event hosted 260 anglers and raised more than $558,000 to fund the live-saving programs of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. This eclipsed the 2022 record of $512,000. In all, the event has raised $4.5 million in its 15 years. “The funds we are raising will help many addicts go through this life-transforming program,” said Tournament Director Bernie Barringer. “The cost of helping people break free from the chains of addiction keeps going up and it’s thrilling to see individuals and companies across the state respond in such a generous way.”

Honorary tournament host Al Lindner echoed Barringer’s sentiments. “It’s incredible to see the continued support from our communities and corporations across Minnesota. It’s not an overstatement to say that many lives will be saved through Teen Challenge’s programs.”

The Friday evening dinner and meeting was full of energy as the top fundraisers were announced. Top fundraisers were Stu Nelson and Rich Brummer of Cloquet, with a total of $116,000. Three teams raised more than $30,000 and nine teams raised more than $10,000. For each $500 raised, anglers get a ticket in the drawing for a new Lund-Mercury boat outfitted with Humminbird and Minn Kota Electronics. The $30,000 rig was won by Dawn and Donnie Hines of Brainerd. This couple has fished all 15 events and are perennial leaders in fundraising for MNTC.

Warm weather on Saturday greeted the anglers and many of them brought limits of fish to the beach at Cragun’s Resort to the delight of several hundred onlookers.

Winners of the Navillus Land Co. Walleye Division were Randin Olson and Andrew Shae of Fargo, their 3-fish bag weighed 11.31 pounds.

Winners of the Lindner Media Bass Division were Student Anglers Hannah Hyttsten and Madison Doucette of Becker who’s top three fish weighed 13.23 pounds.

Winners of the General Rental Panfish Division were Tony and Steve Ward who weighed in crappies totaling 6.45 pounds.

Winners of the Blackfish Gear mixed bag division Josh Johnson and Dave Wagner, who brought a walleye, panfish, bass and pike in, which totaled 17.37 pounds.

The largest Northern pike weighed in at 15.30 and was caught by Nick Grbich and Russ Pogatchnik of St. Cloud to take the Nor-Son Pike Division.

The Woods to Waters Real Estate big walleye was caught by Todd Tougas and weighed 6.22 pounds

The McDonalds Big Bass Award went to Dave Geyer and Peter Olson who caught a 4.78-pounder.

Beaudry Oil Co. sponsors the Ugliest Fish Award, which went to Jason and Kyle Bahr who brought a dogfish to the scales and Kyle gave it a sloppy kiss to seal the victory and bring a cheer from the crowd. They win a trophy and bragging rights until next year.

Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge has 14 facilities across Minnesota that offer life-giving hope to anyone trapped in chemical dependency. Brainerd is opening a Women’s facility in October. New facilities are currently being built in Alexandria, and property is being sought in Mankato.

The Minnesota Fishing Challenge is the second largest annual fundraiser in the state supporting this cause.

Next year’s event will take place on Saturday June 2, 2024. For more info visit www.fishingchallenge.org

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