Fishing for a Cure for ALS

24th Annual Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament brings 300 anglers to Island Lake.

DULUTH, Minn.- Dozens of boats dot the water of Island Lake.

They come in from a long day of fishing, and move out of the dock to make room for the boat to weigh what they caught.

“Today we have 300 anglers out here fishing for bass, fishing for walleye, they’re out here trying to get the big one, get the big basket in,” said volunteer Blake Kolquist. “Looks Like the fish are biting out there today.”

The tournament’s biggest walleye was 2.27 lbs, and was caught by Jason Schrupp (Hawley, MN) and Josh Fankhanel (Vergas, MN).

Meanwhile, the biggest bass was caught by Duluth Pair Mike Lebsack and Chad Mehlum, weighing in at 4.17 lbs.

But these anglers are out here for more than the biggest fish, or heaviest basket.

“14.09!” the announcer calls, for bass basket size. “The Mannings retain the lead.”

They’re trying to raise $250,o00 this year to fight ALS.

“Regardless of the end total we’re making a difference in peoples’ lives which is the most important part. So that’s ultimately why everybody’s here,” Kolquist said.

Some of the anglers here are directly affected by the disease like Jacob Johnson, who’s father died from ALS in 2003.

“He loved it, especially Island Lake we used to come up fishing and camping at the Island Lake campground back in the day,” said Johnson. “Anytime he could get out and do it he would.”

You might think that 300 fishermen would fish the lake dry.

But these are some big fish that won’t be fried.

“All these big walleye, big bass that we’re catching today are going right back into the lake, somebody else will get a chance to catch them down the line,” Mike Stephenson, Marketing Director for Kolar Toyota said.

Not only is the tournament catch and release, but anglers lose points if their fish die. So they do what they can to keep them floundering.

“Sometimes the fish come off the boat if they’re out of the water a little while, they get a bit groggy, a bit sleepy,” Stephenson said. “So after the weigh–in, get ’em in the water, resuscitate them a little bit, and liven them up and swim away safely.”

Keeping the cause environmentally friendly for anglers present, and past. Like Johnson’s father.

“I’m sure he’s looking down and just love that we keep on doing it.”

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