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Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic more than just fishing

BEMIDJI — Drawing anglers from across Minnesota and surrounding states, the 13th annual Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic takes place Saturday. And the fun isn’t limited to Saturday.

Bob Fitzgerald, one of many event organizers, said they have reached their maximum limit of 100 boats for Saturday’s fishing tournament.

"We want to be conscious of the lake’s resources," said Fitzgerald about the boat limit. "It’s just about being responsible."

Through the past 12 years, the tournament has raised more than $400,000 to benefit local charities and organizations in the area.

This year’s beneficiaries include Wounded Warriors Guide Service, Red Lake Boys and Girls Club, Fishing Has No Boundaries, Take a Kid Fishing, Boy Scouts, Let’s Go Fishing and Special Olympics.

"The really unique thing about our event is the volunteers are mostly members of the beneficiaries," Fitzgerald said. "We need the volunteers, and couldn’t do it without them.

According to Fitzgerald, tournament planners are hoping to meet or exceed the $500,000 mark this year and break the current record. With donations from various sponsors and the raffling of a boat/trailer combo, Fitzgerald is hopeful they can do it.

"At its core, it’s a fishing tournament, but it’s really about getting the community together and helping these different groups," Fitzgerald said.

Aside from the walleye tournament going on throughout most of Saturday, there are a variety of other events Fitzgerald describes as "very family friendly."

Among the attractions located along the Lake Bemidji Waterfront will be a children’s area — which includes a bounce play area — face painting, concession area, games, contests, along with the opportunity to test drive a new Ranger boat and of course, a viewing area to watch the competing anglers.

"It’s a great event that offers an opportunity for people to enjoy a lot fun activities throughout the day," Fitzgerald said. "It brings people to our community, and it’s a good way to showcase Bemidji."

As a way of "showcasing" Bemidji, a parade of boats and floats will make their way down Beltrami Avenue tonight to invite people to partake in Saturday’s events.

Starting at 7 a.m., Saturday, fishermen will be competing for cash and other prizes. Top prize this year is $12,500. The tournament concludes at 4:30 p.m. with award presentations.

"It’s more than just a fishing tournament, it’s about the community," Fitzgerald said.


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