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COMMENTS BY KIM: Governor’s Walleye Cup returns

Historic run for big event

It’s back! The North Dakota Governor’s Walleye Cup fishing tournament will crown a 2021 champion this weekend. The event was scratched in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The 260-team tournament has a long history. The Governor’s Cup had its beginning in 1976 when Joe and Terry Schneider took top honors. They won it the following year too, a back-to-back accomplishment that has never been matched in the history of the Governor’s Cup.

In fact, only one other fishing tandem in the long history of the event has ever won it twice. Kenny Seigel and Thomas Schmidt, both from Mandan, won the tourney is 1997 and again in 2000. Seigel, now 90 years old, and Schmidt were in this year’s Governor’s Cup field. However, just a few days prior to the event they were forced to withdraw when Schmidt, 76, became sidelined with unexpected health problems.

What has to rank as one of the most memorable Governor’s Cup events ever was the amazing catch turned in by Dave Jensen and Mort Bank of Bismarck in the 1980 cup. They brought an astonishing 83 pounds, 10 ounces of walleye to the scale, 20 pounds more than any winning total in the history of the Governor’s Cup.

1980 was a year of big fish, as Jensen and Bank certainly proved. Ron Krebsbach of Garrison, who has been on the tournament committee since its second year, marveled at the overall number and size of fish caught and remembers cleaning fish that year until midnight.

“That was quite an amazing tourney with all those big fish,” said Krebsbach.

For many years the Governor’s Cup allowed teams to weigh-in a daily limit for each fisherman. That changed to 10 total fish in 2005 for the two-day event, half of the allowable daily limit for two fishermen.

The Governor’s Cup has long been established as a premier fishing event in the state. There’s a number of other North Dakota fishing tournaments that have a lengthy history too, such as the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce fishing tourney, but it is the Governor’s Cup that annually brings out the best in local fishing talent who consider sprawling Lake Sakakawea to be their home water.

The event has been characterized by family fishing teams – husbands and wives, brothers, fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. Darned if they aren’t really tuned in to how and where to catch fish too. It’s always a very strong field of anglers with new winners emerging every year.

There’s a strong field of fishermen that are always tough to beat, and many terrific anglers that never quite reach the top of the leaderboard. Many teams have entered multiple times in hope of taking home first-place prize money but then come up a bit short at the scale. They’re good fishermen, and prove it year after year with placements near the top of the field. But winning a fishing tournament, especially one the size of the Governor’s Cup, is one of the toughest challenges any fisherman will face.

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