AYA showdown hits ‘The Woods’

Adult and youth fishing teams from across North America converged in Kenora this past weekend for the annual Angler-Young-Angler Championship.
The winning teams from 27 regional events from as far away as the Northwest Territories, South Dakota, and Illinois, and as close as Red Lake, Dryden, and Lac Du Bonnet, all won the chance to fish for walleye on Lake of the Woods and earn a trip to Disney World as well as a fly-in fishing trip next year.
The format for these events is simple—each team consists of an adult and two youths aged 17 or under.
The Lund Boat Company-supported organization has chosen Kenora as its championship site for several years now because of the great walleye fishery on Lake of the Woods, as well as its central location.
Lake of the Woods also is the heart of Lund Country, so it’s a good fit for the brand.
Because of the cost of travel and fishing for an adult and two youths, Lund enlists the helps of several pro staff and local anglers to help with the championship event.
Instead of having to come to Lake of the Woods to pre-fish and learn their way around, each team was matched up with a guide who provided a boat and knowledge of the lake.
So all the teams had to do was show up for a day of fishing with one of the many highly-skilled anglers on Lake of the Woods.
Although the guides are not allowed to fish, they are allowed to bring gear for the teams to use, control the boat, and help in the boat by tying lines and baiting hooks. It is a very fun and satisfying event for all the people involved.
There was a lot of irony around the winning team at this year’s event. Former Lund Boat Company employee Andrew Klopak started the Angler-Young-Angler program back in 1998 because he wanted to introduce his son to competitive angling. And since there were no tournaments that catered to adult and youth teams, he created his own.
The original tournament took place in Lac Du Bonnet, Man. and soon after, the organization exploded to include tournaments all over North America.
Klopak qualified for the 2010 edition of the AYA Championship by winning the Lac Du Bonnet regional tournament back in June along with young anglers Stephen Duynisveld and Jordon Boycheck.
And they continued their winning ways in Kenora as they tallied six walleyes for total weight of 35 pounds.
The tournament used a unique format where no fish actually were brought in. Instead, they were measured, photographed, and released so no fish were harmed.
Since anglers are dealing with big walleyes on Lake of the Woods, this was a good system because in most situations, large walleyes do not do that well in livewells for long periods of time.
Once the lengths are submitted, a formula is used to convert the measurements to pounds.
Klopak told me that they caught fish using a variety of methods, including trolling crankbaits, jigging, and Lindy rigging. They focused their efforts on fishing main lake humps.
I was matched up with the winning team from Red Lake made up the father, son, and daughter trio of Ed, Connor, and Jenna Goulet. They had won the Red Lake regional back in May to qualify for the championship on Lake of the Woods.
They finished sixth with six walleyes for 25 pounds. We caught most of our fish on Northland FireBall Jigs tipped with minnows and leeches.
My younger brother, Ben, guided his team from of Timmins, Ont. to a second-place finish. Ben’s team won last year, so he has a pretty good streak going at this event.
The Angler-Young-Angler is a great platform for introducing youngsters to fishing and the fun of competitive fishing. These events have been extremely successful, and in recent years the organization has exposed upwards of 4,500 participants to the great sport.
For more information, visit the AYA website at www.angleryoungangler.ca

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