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Scott Rall: Kids rule on this fishing tournament day

SCOTT RALL

The Globe outdoors columnist

It was a few years back that I was able to take a photo of a small child and her mom sitting on the end of a dock with the child holding a little fishing pole that had some cartoon character on it.

This was a picture that will forever stay in my mind.  I am sure there are many other parents who take their kids fishing, but that number is going down and not by a small margin.

Hunting and fishing as an outdoor pastime is not getting into the hearts and minds of the young generation today. They just don’t have the opportunity to participate like they used to.  

I took my twins fishing with me all the time partly out of necessity and partly because of the comedy adventure these outings often turned into.

I wrote about the kids and the dog adventure a few months back. I have a photo tacked to the wall in my garage on what I call my “hall of fame.” There is one of my daughter, who is about 6 years old at the time, sound asleep with her arms folded and her head laid in them on top of a big tackle box in my boat.  I can tell you where we were and how many fish we caught that day. Certain things do not fade with age.

It takes more than one experience of hunting or fishing for that young person to sort of get “hooked” on outdoor passions. In some cases no matter how many times you take them, they never get hooked. My daughter fished with me 100 times or more and today she couldn’t care less if she ever fished again. My son, on the other hand, has the hook set deep.

There is a fishing tournament on Sunday, July 15, that is tailor made for kids. I’m talking about the Round Lake Sportsmen’s Club Horned Trout Tournament. Registration runs from 10 a.m. to noon with the fishing hours from noon till 2 p.m.  It is held at East Side Acres on the east shore of Round Lake.

The event is decades old and it started out as a bullhead contest. Round Lake is right next to the city of Round Lake just over the line into Jackson County.

The lake used to be the bullhead capital of Minnesota. They were present by the thousands. Many years ago, there was some sort of disease that killed almost all of them in one year’s time.

Since then the Horned Trout Fishing Contest has gone to an anything that swims can win contest.

The contest is different than any others held in this area. There are separate divisions for kids and adults. First, there is no entry fee. Adults and kids alike can register for free. There are tons of prizes going all the way back to 28th place.

My firm, LPL Financial, donated the $100 cash prize for 22nd place. Another difference is that in general, the best finishers don’t get much better prizes than the last- place finishers do. You can win a great prize at 25th place that might be better than the 10th place winner.

It’s all designed to allow a less experienced fisher to do well against the best anglers in the field. Anything that swims can win.  I have been the official weigh judge for quite a while now.

There have been winners with a carp, a bullhead, a walleye or even a frog or a turtle. That kind of adds an element of surprise.

In most cases the big fish are released alive but that is not required by the contest rules. Ordinarily, there are lots of rough fish caught and there is always a line of folks who want to take them home and eat them.  This, in a very small way, reduces the rough fish populations in Round Lake.

The most unusual catches included a smallmouth bass and a short-nosed gar.  They are not known to swim in these waters. The last time I fished this event, I took a young man by the name of Hunter Foote. He was about 11-12 years old. He is now just entering college in Brookings S.D.

We fished for about three hours without a bite and he wanted to quit. I said, “The time is up in about 30 minutes.  Let’s give this one last effort.” And about five minutes before “times up” he landed a small walleye and won fourth in the kids’ division.

The event is family oriented and there are often several hundred attendees. There is food and beverages and games for kids in addition to the fishing. It is the annual fundraiser for the Sportsmen’s Club, so there is raffles and auction items as well.

The organization just gave a sponsorship to the Worthington High School Bass Fishing League. Members of the team will be on hand helping out, so stop out and see them.  They also purchased of more than 50 wood duck boxes that will be put up this fall. They are a great group that has been around for a very long time. Kids have become one of their primary focuses of their conservation efforts.

Take a drive and bring the family to the king of all bullhead contests on Sunday July 15 at Round Lake. I will be weighing the fish again this year, so maybe I will see you in line and you might just win a great prize or even cash.

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