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AYA International Fishing Tournament coming to Perham's Little Pine Lake May 31

By John George

A one of a kind event is coming to Perham this weekend, and with the success organizers have had preparing for the Angler-Young Angler International Fishing Tournament and the tremendous support of the local communities, this will hopefully be the first annual tournament in the lakes area.

This year's AYA Tournament will be held at Paul Miller Park on Little Pine Lake in Perham on Saturday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hoot's Sports of Perham and Lund Boats of New York Mills are the local hosts of the event.

"We've received great support from the people and businesses in the area to sponsor the tournament," said Mike Parta of Hoot's Sports. "With so many people in the area into fishing, it wasn't hard to get sponsors on board with an event like this that promotes getting young people involved with a life-long sport like fishing."

The tournament will host 50 teams of three anglers, one adult and two young anglers 17 years old or younger. The winning local team will win a Lund boat, motor and trailer and the right to advance to the International Championship AYA tournament to be held at Kenora, Ontario. Winners from eight U.S. and twelve Canadian tournaments will compete for over $25,000 in prizes at the International event.

In addition to that great grand prize, there are a number of other prizes to be given out to participants.

"Every team will win something," Parta said. "We've received some great things from our sponsors so we can let every kid walk out of here with something."

Among the prizes are trolling motors, aqua view cameras, depth finders, rods and reels, 2-way radios, not to mention tackle, t-shirts caps and participation trophies.

The purpose of the tournament is to excite young people about fishing and introduce them to the fun of tournament fishing while learning a lifetime sport.

Al Lindner, a name synonymous with fishing in Minnesota, will be present throughout the tournament. Lindner said he continues to recognize the importance of teaching our youth not only the fun of fishing, but also the value of wildlife conservation. The AYA experience combines the two nicely. He is expected to address the crowd during the weigh-in and awards segment, which is slated to begin at roughly 4:30 p.m.

The AYA has hosted tournaments for nearly a decade, mostly in Canada. Perham is one of eight U.S. cities to host regionals this year.

"It's not often we get an International event here in Perham," Parta said. "The help of local businesses will decide whether or not they will return to Perham. But we've had great response from everyone and in-kind donations will really help make it a great tournament."

Among the donations are breakfast from Mulligan's Pub and Eatry, a packed lunch for all the anglers from Dean's Country Market, water and snacks from Service Foods, and a post tournament banquet at Zorbaz on Little Pine. Daggett Truck Lines from Frazee is supplying a stage for awards and weigh-in.

This will be a "live" tournament and all fish will be returned to the lake following the weigh-in. Each youth explores the water with an experienced angler, in search of the right combination of five walleye needed to take first place. In order to expand the exposure of youth fishing, there is a complete television special produced featuring these events. Not only so the kids get to fish a "real" tournament, they also get a chance to be on TV as a film crew from In-Fisherman will be on hand to record the event!

A potential snag to the tournament was discovered as the ice melted off the lake. The ice had wreaked havoc on the boat access at Paul Miller Park over the winter, but the City of Perham was able to get the damage repaired in time for the tournament.

The Otter Tail Rod and Gun Club will provide some volunteer services, but organizers are still looking for more volunteers to work in two hour shifts. Call DuWayne Sonnenberg or Parta at Hoot's Sports at 218-346-3333 to find out more.

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