35th Annual Treeland Challenge
The 35th Annual Treeland Challenge has come and gone celebrating 35 years of fishing, fun and family! We want to thank everyone who participated, it was great to see not only our long-time challengers but the huge turnout we also had of local area entrants!
The 313 anglers reeled in, registered and released 257 walleye and 245 largemouth bass. Walleye ranged in size from 15 inches to 26.5 inches and averaged 16.86 inches in length. Largemouth bass ranged in size from 12 inches to 19.25 inches and averaged 15.25 inches long.
An extreme storm and cold front swept through the area just before the tournament, which made for challenging fishing conditions. Entrants had to work to get the fish to bite! The bigger walleye were hanging out in 3 – 5 feet of water while the smaller walleye could be found in 18 – 20 feet. They were biting on everything from slip bobbers to jig and plastic, jig and minnow and more; everyone did something different to find them!
Smaller largemouth bass were located right up on the shore while the bigger ones were in a little deeper water. Husky jerks and a jig and plastics seemed to be the baits of choice. Once the sun came out fish started locating themselves on gravel and rocks picking up the extra warmth.
On Friday, 116 walleye and 81 largemouth bass were registered and released. The largest walleye was a 26.5 inch caught by Bob Blankenheim from Madison, WI, on Friday evening. Jennifer Lemke from Chisago City, MN, led the pack with a 19.25 inch largemouth bass. Both were caught on the west side of the Chippewa Flowage and registered at Pat’s Landing Resort.
The sun was out on Saturday making for a beautiful day on the water; contestants were also able to soak in the sunshine at the annual brat and beer feed held at Treeland’s. Saturday had 115 walleye registered and 110 largemouth bass with the 26.5 inch walleye able to hold it’s lead. Brandon Clemens from Poynette, WI took over the lead with a 19.5 inch largemouth bass.
Sunday turned out to be another gorgeous day on the water. Anglers said although they weren’t catching large enough fish to register in the tournament, they were still having fun at least catching fish! Some sleepy eyed anglers registered 33 walleye and 54 largemouth bass.
Zachary Lemke from Chisago City, MN took third place in the largemouth bass division with a 19 incher, earning him $300 cash and an embroidered trophy jacket. Jennifer Lemke outfished her husband Zachary and took the second place spot with a 19.25 inch bass. She took home $600 cash, a trophy jacket and bragging rights over her husband! Brandon Clemens was able to maintain his leading spot in the division with a 19.5 inch largemouth bass, earning $1000 cash and a trophy jacket!
There was a tight race in the walleye division as well. Brian Borgrud from Westfield WI rounded out the division in third place with a hefty 25.75 inch walleye. Brian pocketed $300 cash and took home a trophy jacket. Second place went to Curt Benson from Cadott, WI with his 26 inch walleye, which earned him $600! First place went to long time challenger Bob Blankenheim with a 26.5 inch. Bob took home $1000 cash and a first place trophy jacket!
On Saturday of the tournament, during the annual Brat and Beer Feed, Treeland’s presented rod and reel combos to the winners of the casting contest. Bear Marten, a 15 year old, of Hayward won the children’s division, and Troy Henderson, of Phillips, WI won the adult division.
Hayward Home Center continued their tradition of awarding the very coveted Lady Lunker Award to the ladies who caught the largest walleye and the largest bass. Winners of the award received a St. Croix Avid Pearl Custom Rod with a Shimano Stradic Reel. The walleye division was won by Lea Balczewski from Exeland, WI with a 23 inch walleye. For the bass division, Karen Magiera of Hayward, took home the prize with a 18.75 inch largemouth bass.
In the Children’s Division, Hayward Bait and Bottle Shoppe donated a Custom G Loomis Rod with Shimano Reel to Blaise Prohaska of Wausau, WI. Won by random drawing with one drawing entry for every fish registered.
In addition to the thousands of dollars of daily door prizes given away, one daily grand door prize is awarded each day to a lucky winner. On Thursday night we gave away a St. Croix Premier Custom Rod with Shimano Stradic Reel, donated by Hayward Home Center to Reed Miller from Hayward. Friday afternoon Ryan Novak from West Dundee, IL had the lucky horse shoe and took home a Minn Kota Trolling Motor, donated by Hayward Power Sports. The Saturday grand prize was also donated by Hayward Power Sports with David Joswiak from Winter taking home a Hummingbird Helix 7 GPS Combo Graph. Sunday’s daily grand prize winner was Don Young from Wheaton, IL winning a Helix 5 GPS Combo Graph donated by Jenk’s Bait & Tackle!
Treeland Resorts sponsored a raffle for a custom Elk River Rod and Shimano Stradic Reel valued at $500. Treeland Resorts challenged the crowd by matching up to $2000 of raffle receipts… A new record of $2805 was raised, plus Treeland’s $2000 brings the total to $4805! Treeland’s will be donating to Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin and the Sawyer County Snowmobile ATV Alliance – with each organization getting a donation $2402.50 from Treeland Resorts!
The last function of our tournament is the draw for the Grand Prize of a $2000 gift certificate for Cabelas. Every time a contestant enters a walleye or bass in the contest, they receive a ticket for the drawing. This year Marc Makela from Solon Springs took home the grand prize, Marc had registered two walleye in the tournament!
The Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project was also included in the tournament this year, with anglers harvesting over 700 Northern Pike. The pike were cleaned by the WI DNR and volunteers and donated to Whiskey Ridge to be processed into fish patties for area food shelves. There were three $100 cash random drawings donated by Treeland Resorts, Pat’s Landing Resort and the Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Association.
Lastly, we would like to thank our co-host Pat’s Landing Resort and all of our sponsors, without these sponsors, this tournament would not be possible. Special thanks to Chippewa Valley Bank, Hayward Power Sports, Jenk’s Bait & Tackle, Hayward Home Center, Hayward Bait & Bottle Shoppe, D & B Bait Shop, Elk River Rods & Outfitters, St. Croix Rods, Vortanz Lumber, General Beer Northwest, Nelson Lumber and Floor to Ceiling, LaBarre Plumbing, Heartland Electric, Tiger Musky Resort & Trailer Park, Northern Sheet Metal and L&M Fleet Supply of Hayward.