Rene Marelic and Brice Gillman enjoy their trips to the annual Lake Osakis Lions Club Walleye Tournament every year. Their ride from the Hutchinson area is even easier when they take home first place.
"We love it up here," Gillman said. "The lake has been really good to us. We thought the weather might slow some things down, but it was fine. (The Osakis Lions Club) did a great job with it this year."
During a windy and rainy Saturday, Marelic and Gillman took home over $5,000 with a total weight of 29.68 pounds. Dean Rykes caught the heaviest walleye at 7.5 pounds that earned him $960.
Tim Servin and Dean Grochow finished in second place with a total weight of 25.25 pounds. Rounding out the top three was Andy Mahowald and Joe Bricko (24.30). The 51 teams in the field caught 644 pounds of fish.
"It's hard to compare this year to any other year because this was the first time we did catch, photo, release," tournament organizer John Temple said. "This is a direction the DNR wants to go in, and we will continue to do it like this. We got a good reaction from a lot of people."
For the first time in the tournament's 39 years, the Lions Club decided to make a change from its longtime format where the fish were brought in for a weigh-in and then released. No fish were put in a livewell on Saturday as the tournament was conducted in a catch, photo and release fashion to help limit the stress on the fish that can come in a standard weigh-in tournament.
"It helps the lake and makes the day more fun, so we enjoy it," Marelic said.
Fishermen were given an SD card for their own digital camera along with a numbered clipboard and a measurement board. All fish recorded had a minimum length of 15 inches. Participants recorded the weight and the length along with taking a photo of each submitted fish. When the tournament concluded at 3 p.m. on Saturday, each team of two turned in their SD card and scorecards to the judges.
"It feels different but I think it's good for the lake," Gillman said. "This was our first time ever doing a C-P-R tournament."
Saturday wasn't the first time Marelic and Gillman saw themselves in the winners circle in Osakis.
"We actually didn't start out as partners," Marelic said. "I used to fish with one of the other guys that was here today. We've been coming here for over 15 years. We have a few firsts and a second place finish together."
Marelic and Gillman will continue to make their June trips to Osakis.
"Everybody does a really good job putting this on," Gillman said. "We fish pretty well here and there's lots of quality fish. It's treated us pretty well."
TOP-10 FINISHERS- 1st- Brice Gillman-Rene Marelic 29.68; 2nd- Tim Servin-Dean Grochow 25.25; 3rd- Andy Mahowald-Joe Bricko 24.30; 4th- Rob Bethke-Chris Flintrop 22.61; 5th- Barry Mielke-Jeff Trende 22.08; 6th- Matt Robillard-Don Neubarth 22.04; 7th- Andy Ratke-R. Johnson 21.27; 8th- Dan Jochom-Rick Jenke 21.47; 9th- Mike Sorenson-Kyle Spychalla 20.62; 10th- Tim Hinrichs-Gary Brekkenstran - 19.59