Anglers didn't just catch fish at the 11th annual Alexandria Industries' Fishing for the Cure tournament on Smith Lake Saturday. They caught warm rays of sunshine.
With temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, participants couldn't believe their good luck.
"You couldn't ask for a better day," said Colter Fortenberry of Osakis. "This is not supposed to happen in February."
"It turned out pretty incredible," agreed tournament organizer, Robbie Betterman.
Preliminary figures show the event raised more than $38,000, shattering the goal of $30,000. The money will go toward the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
That's a big increase from the tournament's first year, which raised $620. Betterman said that with this year's total, the tournament has now raised more than $100,000 in 11 years.
The tournament's increasing numbers and wide draw fits with Alexandria Industries' vision for the event.
"We wanted it to be more than a company thing," Betterman said. "We wanted it to be a community event."
The tournament drew 926 registrants – up about 150 anglers from last year.
They reeled in a lot of fish. With about an hour remaining, a 9-pound northern topped the leader board. A 3.19 pound walleye was also hauled in – along with buckets of crappies and sunfish.
Winners for door prizes included: Big Buddie Heater – Julie Betterman, Ice Fishing Package – Carrie Vogel, ION Ice Auger – Tyler Kopel, Otter Fish House – Kris Holden, 55-inch TV – Sam Massmann, and Ice Castle Fish House – Mark Seppanen.
The tournament was created by a small group of Alexandria Industries employees to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
More photos and informaton will be printed in Wednesday's Echo Press. A gallery of photos from the tournament is on the newspaper's Facebook page -- click here.