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First Chain of Lakes Walleye tournament today

The Alexandria area is getting ready to host its inaugural Warrior Boats Alexandria Chain of Lakes Spring Walleye Classic, set for today and tomorrow, June 5-6.

"We're looking forward to a great bite and a highly competitive field of tournament teams," tournament director Corey Bohn said. "The first week of June should be prime time for the walleye bite on the chain, and the teams and spectators should see some impressive fish brought to the scales during this two-day tournament."

Tournament action begins at 7:30 a.m. both days with weigh-ins set to begin at 3:30 p.m. along the docks at Bug-A-Boo Bay on Lake L'Homme Dieu.

The event will feature two-person teams from throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. Eligible Warrior boat owners could have an opportunity to see the $6,000 first-place buyout climb as high as $21,000 with an additional $15,000 on the line in Warrior Boats manufacturer and dealer contingency cash if the winner is the original owner of a 2008 or newer Warrior boat.

The Alexandria Spring Walleye Classic features a unique format that offers special incentives to families fishing in the tournament. The event features a father/son/daughter and a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend division. Teams are placed within the divisions at no added cost, while fishing only against teams within their division for an additional $450 in cash. Divisional teams are also eligible to win the overall cash and prize payouts.

"While the vast majority of the teams feature two buddies fishing in a boat together, up to 30 percent of the field will be eligible to fish within the divisions," Bohn said. "Some of the father/son/daughter and husband/wife teams are highly competitive and have either won or done well at tournaments throughout the tri-state region, including the Lake Minnewaska Fall Walleye Classic, held annually in Glenwood in mid-September."

Gibbon's Mark Berle is part of a strong field of anglers who will take to the water. Berle won the 2008 Fall Walleye Classic on Lake Minnewaska.

There are also a few local teams that could make a serious run at the tournament title. Alexandria's Jack Greengo and Glenwood's Kenny Neumann will be in the field after winning the 2007 Fall Walleye Classic. Getting tips from a talented field and cheering on the local anglers are both reasons to check out the action.

"We really encourage the public to come out and watch the weigh-ins both days," Bohn said. "We'll introduce the teams and interview them from shore, which will allow people to learn the techniques and methods used by the teams to catch their fish.

"Look for the information to really be made available on day two at the conclusion of the tournament as we interview the teams. They probably won't say much on day one because they don't want to reveal their secrets to their competitors, but they'll give it up on day two, which will allow spectators to use that information to improve their own fishing on the chain of lakes."

Each team is allowed to weigh six walleyes each day. Only two of those can be longer than 20 inches, while the other four must measure more than 15 inches but less than 20. Live release provisions are in place and all fish weighed will be immediately released.

"Early indications have been mixed from the teams who have been in town pre-fishing," Bohn said. "Some have been catching big fish and have been having a hard time finding the smaller slot fish, while some are catching the smaller slot fish but having a hard time finding the bigger fish."

Sponsors include the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Hotel and Hospitality, Warrior Boats, LakeMaster, Stearns, Digger Anchor, WalleyeMaster Splashguards, Bug A Boo Bay, Alexandria Holiday Inn and Excellent Multimedia.

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