Quite a start: Kimball teenagers best a field of veterans on Lake Darling
The North American Ice Fishing Circuit kicked off its 2019 panfish tournament schedule on Lake Darling in Alexandria as 26 two-person teams took to the ice at Arrowwood on Sunday morning.
That crowd featured plenty of veteran tournament anglers, many who are sponsored by some big-name companies in the world of ice angling. Jacob Lindberg, 18, and Kade Reddemann, 19, of Kimball were simply thankful for Little Jim’s Sports, their local bait and tackle shop in Annandale that hooked them up with a lot of tackle and information.
Lindberg and Reddemann couldn’t help but be a little nervous as they took part in a meet-and-greet that was part of the tournament’s three days in Alexandri. Reddemann had fished in some smaller events before, but this was Lindberg’s first tournament appearance ever.
Call it beginner’s luck or call them naturals. No matter what it was, Sunday proved to be a special day for the two buddies when they weighed in their eight crappie and eight bluegill limit that won them first place with a total weight of 10.41 pounds. The victory earned them first-place plaques and a $2,000 payday.
“When we were up there, I was just like, ‘There’s no way,’” Lindberg said. “Even last night during the meet and greet, I looked at all the guys who are sponsored and was thinking, ‘How am I going to do this?’ So as soon as they said 10.41, I was just ecstatic. I don’t know how that happened.”
Reddemann said sticking with it was the key. They got into Alexandria at about 10:30 on Friday night and proceeded to fish Lake Darling until 3:30 in the morning. They found some fish, but so too did many other teams that went back on Sunday and formed a community area out in front of Arrowwood where a bulk of the fish were caught.
“We had an experience a couple years ago of catching big fish right by pencil reeds sticking out of the ice still,” Reddemann said. “That’s kind of what we based it off of. The closer we got to the pencil reeds, the better fish there were.”
The duo’s biggest fish was a 1.25-pound crappie. Big fish for the tournament was a 1.42-pound crappie. Of the 26 teams, 24 of them brought in their eight crappies and eight bluegills to the weigh-in. The fish that the anglers did not bring home themselves will be cleaned and donated around Alexandria.
Lindberg and Reddemann found their fish in 6-9 feet of water. Lindberg started with a small tungsten pink jig before switching over to something a little bigger to try to get a few more big crappies. Reddemann used a white Venom glow jig all day.
Finding weeds was the name of the game for teams. Much of the best fishing came from right around that community spot where the teams gravitated to, but Lindberg and Reddemann were focused on not letting others dictate how they went about their business.
“Our biggest thing was we’re not going to look at anybody else,” Reddemann said. “We’re not going to worry about what anyone else is catching. We’re just going to fish our game. We went back to some tricks we used at home and some stuff we learned from these guys. A lot of these guys were really nice and helpful. Some of them didn’t give us the benefit of the doubt until we brought in a 10-pound bucket of fish. That’s sometimes how it works.”
The second-place team of Minnesota anglers Ryan Hylla and Clayton Kettering brought in 10.17 pounds of fish. Jack Halverson and Corey Bechtold, also Minnesota anglers, finished third with 9.67 pounds. Bags of 9.53 (Juan Arellano and Rob Andrus, MN) and 9.46 (Scott Neumann and Eric Jaspersen, MN) pounds rounded out the top-five place finishers who qualified for the circuit’s championship that will be fished next December. Neumann and Jaspersen are from Alexandria, and Neumann caught the 1.42-pound crappie that was the big fish of the tournament.
“We look for weeds, always,” Bechtold said of the strategy that earned Halverson and him third place. “Then you look for inside turns, outside points, then use underwater cameras to try to find them. Once you locate them, then you had to figure out what they wanted to eat. We use all artificial baits. It seems like the smaller fish don’t pick it off as easy, and it gives you an extra swing because if you do miss a fish, they’ll come back and get them.”
Bechtold and Halverson fished in 7-12 feet.
“It was pretty good,” Halverson said of Darling. “We had two spots. The first spot, the bite wasn’t as good, but we got bigger fish. The second spot, there were a lot more smaller fish, so you threw back a lot.”
Lindberg and Reddemann had never fished Lake Darling before this weekend. Reddemann said he studied maps of the lake leading up to the tournament to the point of having it memorized.
The two put in their work to make sure they were as prepared as they could be going up against a talented field of anglers. In the end, it paid off big time on a fishery they grew to like over the course of their few days in Alexandria.
“You guys had year classes everywhere from 14 inches to micro fish, which is good to see for your fishery,” Reddemann said. “I’d say there has got to be some big fish based on how many we saw. We saw a lot of fish on camera.”
(For full standings from the Lake Darling Tournament, visit www.naifc.com.)