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State's most versatile tourney

SPICER -- Tournament fishing might not get any better than this.

The Minnesota State Bass or Walleye Championships will be coming to Green Lake June 14 and Sept. 11.

Bass or walleye?

That's right. Entrants into the fundraising event put on by Kandiyohi County Relay for Life will get to choose which species to fish for. Teams of two or single entrants can even re-enter the tournament and fish again, changing species if they desire.

"It's one of the only lakes, early in the year, that has the availability of both walleye and bass fishing," said Steve Rustad, captain for the Kandiyohi County Relay for Life team and one of the organizers of the tournament. "We're the earliest bass tournament of the year."

There is a guaranteed purse of $13,500 and the prize money is broken down into 15 categories. The top four teams in both bass and walleye, the top team in bass or walleye with a cancer survivor, the heaviest smallmouth bass, the heaviest largemouth bass, the heaviest walleye and the top school team will win money.

The entry fee is $100 per team and Rustad said that there were 21 spots left in the tournament at the beginning of the week. After teams weigh in their 1-3 fish, another $100 will get that team another shot at fishing. Teams can fish until they reach the state's legal daily limit of six smallmouth bass, six largemouth bass and six walleye in possession.

Rustad said the tournament was held at Green Lake three years ago, which gave a little boost to the area's economy.

"Thirty-nine of 54 teams last time were from out-of-the area," he said. "It brings people to the area, which the area needs really bad."

The money raised from tournament sponsorships goes to the American Cancer Society, Rustad said. "Fishermen fish for their own money.

"We go by what we can raise. If we don't get the word out, we don't get a lot of sponsors. We have other areas vying for it. In order to do it for the Cancer Society, we have to hold it where we can get the money."

The tournament is also different with the Monday date. Normally, tournaments are held on Saturday or Sunday, but Rustad said there's a purpose to the unordinary start.

"The reason is that we get a large number of boats on the lake and they can park right in the lot (at Saulsbury Beach). It also takes a lot of stress for people who can only get to their cabins on the weekends," he said.

It also takes advantage of some weekend events in the area. That Saturday, June 12, is the Green Lake Cleanup and then Sunday will be the Spicer's First Fishing Banquet at the American Legion, starting at 5 p.m. There will be a silent auction and those proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. From 5-10 a.m. on Monday, there will be a breakfast at the Spicer Legion, which also benefits the American Cancer Society.

As for the tournament's title, is it really a state championship?

Rustad said he has a license from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to call his tournament the Minnesota State Bass or Walleye Championship for the next 10 years.

"(The application) was reviewed for several months," he said. "There are some old tournaments that could have been called that, but for some reason, they didn't hold on to it."

In case of inclement weather, a drawing will be held for the prize money at 1 p.m. that day at the Spicer Legion. Anyone can enter the drawing by paying the $100 entry fee.

For more information, call 320-796-5905. Entry forms are also available at the Spicer Legion.