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Mother Nature cooperates

By Staff | Jan 17, 2014

Jim Wolf of Wolford won the adult northern division. The fish weighed 6 and 3/4 pounds.

With the temperature pushing 30, the 19th Almost Annual Rugby Eagles Fishing Derby was never close to being an almost event.

More than 220 adult tickets were sold and another 120 for children as hundreds scattered across Sand Lake in Benson County on Jan. 11.

“It went as expected,” Eagles president Paul Niemi said. “Mother Nature cooperated and people showed up. It was a fun day for everyone. … I think if anybody goes out there and gives that lake an effort, and you fish it, there’s fish in there and the pictures show it.”

Jim Wolf of Wolford found that out when he caught a northern weighing 6 and 3/4 pounds to win that adult division. The derby finished at 2 p.m., and Wolf reeled in his winning catch with 15 minutes remaining.

“That ain’t the first one I’ve got,” Wolf joked. “Sometimes, I know there’s big ones in there, but we haven’t been catching much northern already.

Mike Vetsch of Rugby won the adult perch division. The fish weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces.

“I’ve only fished in Sand Lake for probably two or three years. I’ve always bought a ticket, but never went. The grandkids helped with that.”

Wolf was joined by his grandson Connor Ramsey and son-in-law Travis Ramsey.

Wolf was one of many raving about the increasing size of the perch in Sand Lake. Mike Vetsch of Rugby did all right for himself with the winning perch … a fish weighing in at 1 pound, 2 ounces.

“It was just a lucky deal, I guess,” Vetsch said. “I was helping my niece fish and I heard my pole sliding across the ice. That was probably the biggest perch I’ve caught at Sand Lake, that’s for sure.”

Vetsch, who has fished at the derby nearly every year, was surprised when he pulled the fish out and at first thought the hefty catch was a northern. He said when he first started fishing at Sand Lake the perch came in about four inches long, but continue to grow. The two adult winners won $200 apiece. The weather also had Vetsch in good spirit.

Brock Haakenson won the children’s perch division. His fish was 13 and 3/4 ounces.

“For the way it’s been this winter you couldn’t have asked for any nicer day,” Vetsch said. “You could enjoy being outside, it wasn’t where you were cooped up in a fish house.”

In the children’s divisions Brock Haakenson hauled in the winning perch with a 13 and 3/4-ounce catch. Austin Lenertz’s northern weighed in at 2 pounds, 7/16 ounces, which earned him first in the children’s division. Haakenson and Lenertz took home $150 each.

“It was really nice,” Wolf said. “Some years they don’t get so much nice weather. They had a lot of people and a lot of kids and that’s what it’s all about, the kids. That’s a good lake for them.”

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Tim Chapman/PCT Hundreds of anglers set up on Sand Lake in Benson County on Jan. 11 for the 19th Almost Annual Rugby Eagles Fishing Derby.