Treeland Challenge 2017

Recap of the 2017, 33rd Annual Challenge!

This past weekend, 259 anglers competed in the 33rd Annual Treeland Challenge, a walleye and largemouth bass catch and release fishing tournament. Unlike last years tournament, which was bitterly cold and windy, this year Mother Nature decided to give the Challengers perfect weather, and ideal fishing conditions.

To register a walleye it must measure a minimum of 15” in length, and largemouth bass must measure at least 12” in length. The walleye bait of choice was a fathead and jig. Anglers reported catching record numbers of 14” walleyes, and the legal walleyes being registered were healthy and fat. It was also reported that there were a lot of large perch caught while fishing for walleyes. Anglers had a blast catching largemouth bass in the shallows using plastic worms.

On Friday 209 fish were registered, with 135 of them being walleye. The largest was a 27.5” caught by Joe Serio from Elm Grove, WI. Entrants also registered 74 largemouth bass. Dennis Lemke, from Phillips, WI, topped the Friday leaderboard with an 18.5”.

The sun continued to shine on Saturday and 208 total fish were registered at both Treeland’s and Pat’s Landing, with 116 being walleye and 92 largemouth bass. The 27.5” walleye still held steady at the top of the leaderboard, followed by two 27.25” walleyes tied for second. Ed Werkmeister, from Downers Grove, IL, took the number one spot on the largemouth bass leaderboard registering a 19” lunker.

Closing out the tournament on Sunday morning, anglers registered 79 more fish. Although 33 walleye were brought in, Joe Serio still held the lead with his 27.5”. 46 largemouth bass were registered, making for a very close leaderboard. A new bass took the lead (with only half of a tail) at 19.5”, caught by Neal Doyle from Rio, WI.

In total, 285 walleye were registered and 212 largemouth bass, bringing the total number of fish to 497. The average length for walleye was 17.6 inches long while the average length of the largemouth bass was 15.2 inches.

For the Walleye Division, there was a tie for second place with 27.25” walleyes so we had to look to the next largest fish. Keith Carlson, from Goodhue, MN, took the third place spot with a 27.25” walleye followed by a 21.75” walleye, bringing home $300 cash. In second place was Tom Veith, from Kenosha, WI with a 27.25” and a 25” walleye and $600 cash. Taking first place was Joe Serio from Elm Grove, WI, with a 27.5” walleye and $1000 cash!

The Largemouth Bass Division, also came down to a tie and next largest fish. In third place, from Downers Grove, IL was Ed Werkmeister, with a 19” and 16” bass, and $300 cash. Second place went to John Nesse from Mendota Heights, MN with a 19” and 17.75” bass and $600 cash. First place went to Neal Doyle with a 19.5” bass and $1000 cash.

On Saturday of the tournament, during our annual Brat and Beer Feed, R & R Bayview Lodge presented rod and reel combos to the winners of the casting contest. 5 year old Ginny Helquist, of Eau Claire, WI won the children’s division, and 18 year old Ethan Smith, of Rice Lake, WI won the adult division.

Hayward Home Center continued their tradition of awarding the Lady Lunker Award to the ladies who caught the largest walleye and the largest bass. Winners of the award received a St. Croix Legend Custom Rod with a Shimano Stradic Reel. In the walleye division, it once again came down to the next largest fish to determine the winner. With a 25.25” and a 25” walleye the award went to Joni Zich from Couderay, WI. For the bass division, 11 year old Daisha Dearhamer of Park Falls, WI, took home the prize with a 18″ largemouth bass, for the second year in a row!  

In the Children’s Division, Hayward Bait and Bottle Shoppe donated a Custom G Loomis Rod with Shimano Reel to Nick Heath, of Ojibwa, WI. 

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, sponsored by Hayward Home Center to Dane Roloff of Inver Grove Heights, IL. Friday afternoon we gave away a Hummingbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Portable Graph, graciously sponsored by Hayward Power Sports, to Calvyn Eason of Bancroft, WI. Saturday we gave away a Minn Kota Engine Mount 55 Trolling Motor also sponsored by Hayward Power Sports to Tom Steiner of Winter, WI. Sunday’s daily grand prize winner, was Bob Recob, of Rio, WI, who received a Hummingbird Helix 5 G2 CHIRP Combo Graph, graciously sponsored by Jenk’s Bait & Tackle.

There was also a raffle to benefit Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin in which contestants bought tickets to win a custom Elk River Rod and Shimano Stradic Reel. $1490 was raised and 100% of that will go to Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin. In return, WFNWW donated a tackle box for the children’s division, stuffed with $270 of lures, won by lucky contestant Jacob Kubarek of Hayward, WI.

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, Craig Schlapper, of Hayward, WI had the lucky horseshoe and won the grand prize! 

Lastly, we would like to thank 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, Elk River Rods & Outfitters, St. Croix Rods, General Beer Northwest, R&R Bayview Resort & Restaurant, Nelson Lumber & Home and Floor to Ceiling, LaBarre Plumbing, Heartland Electric, Tiger Musky Resort & Trailer Park, Northern Sheet Metal, L&M Fleet Supply, Vortanz Lumber and Pat’s Landing Resort.