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McFeely blog: Lund cancels its namesake walleye tournament; Balcer brothers win overall title in Reel Country Classic

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NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. — A popular walleye fishing tournament became a victim of The coronavirus pandemic.

The Lund Mania tournament, an event sponsored and promoted by the boat-maker in this Otter Tail County city, has been cancelled. It was scheduled for July 10 on Otter Tail Lake. It will be continued in 2021, according to a member of the tournament's committee.

"Unfortunately, following much discussion, thoughts and guidance on rules initiated by the Minnesota DNR, the committee has made the decision to cancel the Lund Mania fishing tournament," Stephanie Von Ruden said in an email.

Social distancing guidelines are to blame. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says six feet must be maintained between participants in boats, at weigh-ins and any related tournament activities.

Lund Mania doesn't have a weigh-in because it is a catch-photo-release tournament. That means each boat in the tournament is required to have an observer to accurately document fish caught. That made Lund Mania untenable.


"Recently released guidelines make it extremely difficult for the tournament which prides itself in an event which promotes the community of New York Mills and Lund Boats. The guidelines at the present time will not allow us to enjoy the rules meeting, ability to include spotters, top-ten festivities, or the parade of boats in the community," Von Ruden wrote. "These aspects of our tournament is what makes it one of the most special events that we all enjoy."


Lund started its tournament in 2009 as a way to promote its boats and celebrate the New York Mills community in which they are made. It annually attracts some of the top Lund-sponsored anglers like Gary Roach and Ted Takasaki, as well as top walleye anglers from the area.

Last year's tournament drew 60 boats.

The tournament is limited to Lund boats, of course.

"As we work through COVID-19 we hope to make the 2021 event as special as the past events and look forward to the tournament," Von Ruden said.

Perham brothers win Reel Country Classic

Meanwhile, the pandemic didn't stop the Reel Country Classic walleye tournament last weekend on Otter Tail Lake.

Jared and Joe Balcer, brothers from Perham who own a guide service, won the two-day event with a weight of 32.54 pounds for their limit of 12 walleyes. They caught 15.60 pounds on Day 1 and 16.94 pounds on Day 2, according to results posted on the KDLM radio web site .


They won the tournament despite not having the highest weight for either day. The Balcers won a $500 bonus for having the highest two-day total among anglers using a Lund boat.

The biggest walleye caught in the tournament weighed 6.51 pounds and the biggest northern pike weighed 13.34 pounds.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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