Up North: Anglers Fight ALS Virtually in 25th Annual ALS Fishing Tournament

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: June 03, 2020 10:47 PM

Sunny, clear, and quiet. That was the scene at Island Lake last Saturday for the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament. 

In previous years anxious anglers crowded the docks and waters to fish for a cause. 

"I will continue to do this until we find a cure for ALS. We're committed to make sure this event lasts forever and hopefully one day we won't have to have the event, we'll have a big party," said Jim Johnson, a UMD Athletic Hall of Famer, during the 2010 tournament. 

The event has lasted through rain or shine, and now a pandemic. The coronavirus made this one a memorable year, marking both the 25th annual and first virtual ALS Fishing Tournament.

"We had to figure out a way to get creative and do it. It's a lot different, but those people [fighting ALS] are depending on us. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that we're supporting them," said Blake Kolquist, the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament director 

"It was fun, it was still a hype. You're excited all week for it and you wait for it and you can't wait to wake up in the morning and get out on the water. So it was still, it wasn't any different than normal," said Tim while fishing with the walleye division champion Marc Smith.

Instead of launching boats with friends, this year, people launched an app. 

"Looking at our start time of 7 a.m., opening up the app for our virtual tournament, it was incredible. Right away people are on it, they're engaged, and they're posting fish, after fish, after fish," said Kolquist.

"This is a lot of fun, we had a great day," said walleye division champion Marc Smith of Proctor. 

The new format of the tournament gave around 200 casual and competitive casters a platform to share their catch and connect with others. Expanded rules allowed for winners in bass, crappie, northern, and walleye divisions. 

"I dropped my live scope down and it was just chock full of crappies, and I just plucked off what I thought was the biggest three," said Duluth's Timmon Lund, the crappie division winner.

"Then we were just kind of making our final pull and we hit this one," said Smith. 

Also new this year was Smith's record setting 30.5 inch walleye, an indoor weigh in, and live streamed donation reveal showing a total of $157,000 dollars of donations by the end of the event.

While not everyone could be together on Island Lake or at the banquet, they continued the battle for a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease virtually

"We're still fighting for ALS, we're not giving up on fighting that disease," said former Minnesota Twin, and celebrity host, Kent Hrbek. 


Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


Bill to build two housing complexes for Duluth's homeless population introduced

The Christmas spirit lives on at Glensheen

'Miracle On Ice' player, Eveleth native Mark Pavelich dead at 63

As more COVID-19 vaccine arrives in the Northland, 65+ urged to schedule appointment

Port leaders pleased with incoming investment

Getting Syke'd: Lake Superior Zoo introduces new black bear