Thursday, May 7, 2009

So, Who's Team Walleye Anyway?

The boat is cleaned and reorganized, the warm clothes are packed, and the beer/Bloody Mary mix are readily accessable for my depurture Friday noon for Leech Lake. Brother Steve and his friend Tom will pull me out of work at noon and we are off. Once the boat is snug to the hitch we head to pick up Mark Taylor before stopping at Lundeen's Tackle Castle for minnows. This year I ordered 3 gallons of spottail shiners and a gallon of fatheads and we expect to use every one of them. Our ETA should be around 4:00, maybe enough time to get some crappie fishing in. By then most of the members of Team Walleye should be there. So, who's Team Walleye anyway?

Team Walleye started in 1973 with 4 of my friends, Ron Edberg, Mark Mayerich, Gary Ullom, and Mark Taylor. While these guys were up fishing on Leech I was getting ready to graduate from Eleva-Strum High School. Walleye fishing was not even in my vocabulary yet! The next couple of years were spent going to school, graduating, and taking the first job that came around, winding transformers in Minneapolis. I was pretty naive coming from a small town in Wisconsin to the big city but that's a story for another day. Mark Taylor was working in the building next to ours and we became friends. Starting in 1982 I began to fish Mille Lacs on opener, first with a number of my friends from Eleva and gradually struggling to find someone to go. In the meantime Mark kept pressuring me to come to Leech with them and in 1990 I agreed. Team Walleye had grown from 4 to 13 guys and moved to Brindley's Harbor a number of years back. I arrived with my Lund Nisswa to the most organized event I had ever seen.

Team Walleye is the brain child of Ron Edberg. Ron is an accomplished graphics artist specializing in industrial and commercial design. Leaving from Gary Ullom's place Friday morning, we we all given commemorative hats (those high mesh back hats so popular back then), a magnetic sign for your pull vehicle, and a look at the traveling Big Fish Trophy which had documented the biggest fish every year since 1976. Once at the resort the duty roster was posted, broken down into teams, everyone got a breakfast and an evening meal assuring each person did their fair share of the work. On Monday we would have the big fish ceremony, presentation of the trophy and winnings, pack up and leave. This year Team Walleye will celebrate its 36th Annual Leech Lake Walleye Opener and Tournament. We have grown from 13 to 20 guys this year, take up 4 cabins, stay till Tuesday, and have substantially improved the menu which will include rib eyes on Saturday night and ribs on Sunday. With 20 guys, one will only have kitchen duty once, assuring at least 3 mornings to sleep in.

I have been promoted to Tournament Director position, managing the trophy presentation, providing guidance during the weekend, and signing the award certificates for the various places. In addition to the big fish we have a points competition as well. This gives those that might not have the opportunity to compete a chance to win big. We break the tourney down into 6 sessions, one in the morning and one after dinner for each day, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Everyone gets 2 points for each fish they catch, 1 point for each fish the boat landed, and a bonus 2 points if they caught the largest fish for the session. Although I missed the big fish trophy by 1/4 inch, I did nail the points total as well the top gun boat with 54 walleyes for the 3 days. Here is a picture of our group from last year. Brindley's Harbor is a first class place to be on opener. Last year we had substantial ice on the lake as many resorts were not able to launch boats. Although it was cold, we had the best fishing ever. Let's hope the trend continues! Hopefully I can report sometime this weekend on how it's going. Good luck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great time and alot of good old boys to enjoy the opener.Good luck Dave I know how much it means to you. Stay safe on the trip and the water for you and all the rest.