High School Anglers Head to Nationals

August 14, 2019 06:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) - A group of friends hooked on fishing have turned their hobby into a team sport. 

“We all fished together since we were kids,” said Griffin Thompson.


A few years back, they decided to bet on their passion by forming a team and competing in local tournaments as the Albert Lea Anglers.

About 20 people participated that first year. Now, the club has nearly 70 members, made up of middle schoolers and high schoolers from the Albert Lea area. 

“I didn’t think there would be that many,” said Thompson.

The group fishes together, participates in events like the Fishing Opener and volunteers together. But the best part for many—

“I like participating in tournaments,” said Thomas Lundell.

This summer, they’ve placed particularly well. At Saturday’s Minnesota State High School Tournament, 36 teams of two competed for the chance to go to nationals. They were judged on the weight of the amount of bass caught. Will Utpadel and Caden Stevens took home first place, catching 17 lbs 15 ounces of bass, defeating the odds. 

"Our boat broke down and we couldn't go anywhere so we just rode one shoreline all the way back to the cabin we were staying at," said Stevens.

“We still ended up winning,” said Utpadel. That qualifies them for the national tournament in La Crosse next summer.

"I'm excited, ready for the competition," said Utpadel.  They’ll be joined by two other teams from the Albert Lea Anglers.
At the same tournament, Ian Latham and Jaeger Larson placed 4th, catching 13 lbs and 6 ounces of bass. 

"There's gonna be a lot of people there from a lot of different places so it will be interesting to see a lot of different techniques used and fishing with the best of our age group," said Latham. Lundell and Thompson placed fourth at a July tournament, qualifying them for nationals as well. 

"It felt pretty good. I didn't think we would, but somehow we did it," said Lundell.

This is the first time the Albert Lea Anglers will be represented at nationals. 


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