The Harsh Reality by: Kara Wattunen

My second season as a “tournament angler” things were a harsh reality check onto how things went for some people. I suppose a reality check is needed for everyone, and welcomed. I just was not expecting it to challenge me most of the season. Self-preservation mode was in full effect.

I walked into my first rules meeting for the National Walleye Tour an absolute wreck… the pro I was supposed to travel home with was leaving. Going back to Minnesota that day and not fishing the event. Meaning he was leaving me in Ohio, with no car (since I flew) and no way to get to the tournament launches and such. I sat next to someone, I literally had no clue who this guy was, just trying to not break down because I was stuck. I was able to wrangle rides from anglers to and from my hotel and managed to find a way all the way back to Minnesota. I mean seriously, who the heck just leaves someone in a state with no way home?

In our first AIM tournament, my partner, another female, and I were running into a channel on the Mississippi River when all hell broke loose. I have NEVER heard alarms like that go off in a boat and go figure, it would be ours in our first event of the season. We dropped down the trolling motor so we didn’t get swept away and Katey could fish while I worked on the problem. The cowling was pulled completely off, I was hanging off the back of the boat in the water, and we were in deep trouble. I couldn’t see an obvious issue in the motor but all the manual said was to return to the dock immediately. Boats, other tournament boats, were flying by super close to us while I tried to wave them down and nobody stopped. Nobody.

I was raised on the water, and when someone waves you down, you at least slow down to talk to them and see what the problem is. No questions asked. Guess that isn’t the case. Katey and I turned the boat around to try and use the trolling motor to go against the current on the Mississippi River when it was up a few feet and moving fast. You can imagine how well that worked… A little boat pulled up alongside of us noticing we were in trouble, and towed us to a dock. Why wouldn’t another tournament boat stop and help when people are in trouble? No fish or amount of money is as important to me as my safety and others on the water around me.

After the disaster on the Mississippi, I headed to our second stop on the National Walleye Tour in Winnebago. I was feeling this tournament! Never having fished this body of water I was super excited to see new places, and try new techniques. Having a great day one, and holding a big bag for day two as well, the wait in line at the bump tanks was exciting. A pro, whom I had considered someone to look up to, took a peak at our bag. Mind you, this pro said I couldn’t travel with their team or even pre-fish with them because “a girl would make it uncomfortable.” When he realized I was going to place in a check he decided to get lippy… “you know it’s mandatory that when a co finishes in their first check you buy us all drinks right?” My answer back was, “well if you would have let me travel with y’all I’d be more than happy to do that!” Other anglers around us laughed and clapped because A) there aren’t many girls who even fish the NWT and B) I wasn’t taking him pushing me around. Needless to say, that pro hasn’t really spoke to me, but has spoken about me quite a bit. Makes you think who you can really trust and consider friends doesn’t it?

The next stop led me north to Leech Lake. A walleye MECA in Minnesota. Fishing my second tournament with a new partner, I knew the learning curve would still be there. As we sat at the rules meeting, I became very aware of a conversation going on about my partner and myself. Like really guys? I was seriously 4 chairs down. I’m not deaf! To save money, I tend to camp because it is relaxing. This camping experience was everything but that. I knew we had some bad weather headed our way so when I starting hearing loud thuds on my truck, which I tricked out so I could sleep in there if I was alone, I wasn’t surprised. But when I heard the laughter with the thuds, I knew something was up. I opened my eyes to see splatters all over my truck windows… of eggs. I peeked my head up to see a group of 5 gentlemen proceeding to egg my truck and boat.

I was scared and angry. Two choices were at my fingertips- either open the door and get egged myself to scare the guys away or wait until they are done. I chose the wait option. It seemed like hours… each egg that hit my truck and boat I felt like I cried harder. I couldn’t understand why they were doing this. What did I do to these guys to cause them so much hatred that they felt the need to damage my property? When the eggs stopped, I waited a little bit then climbed out of my truck, unplugged my boat, and drove out of the campsite. There was a place with a hose hooked up that I could wash the eggs off my rigs. Now being about 3 am, I needed to sleep for a little longer, so I found a parking lot to just stop in closer to Walker and caught some sleep.

The day didn’t start out well with the lovely activities of others, but then Leech Lake got the best of my rig… We hit a few huge waves just right that all my electronics went out, my front live well busted and my windshield detached. My partner and I got to safer water where we had to make a choice. His fiancé was with, whom he doesn’t get to spend a ton of time with due to his military, the boat was damaged and we had a bad storm rolling in fast.   Our choice was clear, time to head in. We ran to the landing, where I called the Tournament Director to tell him what happened and ask where we should turn in our equipment. Another team saw us make a phone call and started a lovely rumor about us getting disqualified because we used a phone. I absolutely love to learn about myself from others stories, don’t you?

The season ended a few months later, leaving me with a lot of choices. Do I continue fishing in tournaments? Do I even want to put up with the bull crap that goes on when people don’t like you and want to see you fail? It took me a very long time to decide yes or no. I looked at my everyday surroundings at work with my students in an elementary setting. What would they say if I quit? What does that show them? When times get tough just quit your dream and goals. Nope, I cannot do that to them or myself. In my classroom, we work hard until the results we want to see appear. We don’t back down in the face of adversity, so why would I back down from these challenges.

I am looking forward to a new season, with new challenges! Teamwork is essential and I am so happy to be teaming with some amazing companies that truly value not only me as an angler, but most importantly a person. My values are able to not flex and I can do what I feel is right and in the best interest of everyone. 2017 better watch out because I’m coming for you!

Powrtran Pro Lynn Niklasch Makes it Two in a Row with Win in the 2015 AWWS Warrior Boats National Shootout.

June 2, 2015

15 two-man teams converged on La Qui Parle near Montevideo, MN this past weekend with one goal in mind, to take home the beautiful Warrior 1898 with a trailer and a Yamaha 150 HP motor valued at over $50,000. “This is the largest purse for a 15 team tournament I have ever seen” Powrtran Marketing Director Steve Hiemenz remarked “and with no entry fee, it really is something special.”

Niklasch and his partner Mark Kumorkiewicz battled the harsh Friday conditions to bring back an astounding 5 fish bag totaling 32.20 lbs.-roughly 18 lbs. more than the second place team.  Day 2 was a different story as the leaders struggled early and watched the team of Chaz Dobias and Ryan Hylla from MN pull in several large fish.  “Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s impossible to describe” Kumorkiewicz remarked when asked how it felt to watch competitors pound the big fish while they had one small one on the card.  The stress of protecting a lead with such a huge purse on the line was starting to get to them. “We just put our rods down and had a little powwow, we needed to regroup” Niklasch said.  And regroup they did as they rebounded to pull another outstanding 5 fish bag of over 18 lbs. to win the tournament by almost 21 lbs.

This victory marked the second straight for Niklasch and Kumorkiewicz as they took the top spot at the AWWS Wisconsin Division Nitro Boats Open May 17th besting the field of 85 boats.  This has them currently sitting in second place in the Wisconsin Team of the Year race (The Shootout results don’t count) and in great position to make it back to the National Shootout next year.

Niklasch, from Oconomowoc, WI is also a full-time guide on Green Bay. His company, Your Fishin’ Pal Guide Service is one of the most popular guide services in the area.

“We are very excited about what Lynn brings to the table” Hiemenz says “He is a remarkably versatile fishermen who can adapt his game to the water and conditions he’s facing and that is evidenced by his coming from the big water trolling he is used to and winning a tournament on a smaller lake.”

Up next, Niklasch and Kumorkiewicz face off against another large field on June 28th near Petenwell County Park in WI for the third AWWS Wisconsin Division Qualifier.

Fishing for our Heroes Tournament on Gull Lake Brings in More than Fish

A total of 32 teams hit the beautiful waters of Brainerd’s Gull Lake June 20th and 21st to try and hook some big fish.  For most (if not all) involved however, the tournament was about more than how many fish you could find, they were there to help raise money for the Heroes at Home scholarship fund which supports military and law enforcement students and helps them reach their dream of defending our country.

The scholarships are awarded by the Daniel Drevnik Memorial Fund which was founded in 2012 by Ken and Julie Drevnik just three years after their son Dan was killed in Iraq.  Dan was a member of the National Guard and was pursuing a career in Law Enforcement to achieve his goal of becoming a Minnesota State Trooper. “Dan’s dream was to be a police officer,” Ken says “It would be his hope that his mission of service did not end that fateful day.”

The tournament was hosted out of Cragun’s resort right on the shores of Gull Lake and several companies, including Powrtran donated weekend stays at the resort for the many veterans who came out to witness the event. “It really is the least we can do,” Powrtran Marketing Director Steven Hiemenz said “every one of these guys gave so much, we needed to let them know how much we continue to appreciate that.”

The tournament has a unique format as it is open to both walleye and bass anglers.  Each team declares which species they will fish for ahead of the tournament and then the biggest 6 fish bag from each species takes home a check for $1500.  In addition, the largest fish from each species takes home a check for $700.  The prize for biggest walleye was donated by Powrtran. “Once we knew we wanted to get involved, we knew we wanted to award the biggest fish, we are all about catching big fish!” Hiemenz said.

The tournament weekend also includes a day of taking vets out on the water to fish, a banquet and silent auction.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out their website, and like them on Facebook  “Without a doubt one of the best causes we have ever been fortunate enough to support,” Hiemenz says, “we cannot wait until next year!”


Boat Insurance Coverage Considerations from Fellow Angler Justin Schneider

One of the worst days I’ve ever had on the water was the morning I walked out to the dock to see my dock line had slipped overnight and the wind switched directions, leaving my brand new boat with a plethora of deep scratches from an exposed dock pole.  Although tears had literally filled my eyes, I quickly reminded myself “that’s what why you carry insurance,”. In the matter of a week, my boat was repaired, looking good as new.  Being an independent insurance agent who specializes in outdoors related products, I’ve taken the time to research and thoroughly understand marine insurance coverages.  As a result, clients of Woods & Water Insurance and most recently myself, have enjoyed the peace of mind that our watercrafts carry adequate insurance coverages.  In this article, I’d like to share with you a few specific items that you may find helpful when you decide to insure your next boat or review your current boat insurance coverages.
Isn’t all boat insurance coverage the same?
Contrary to what some insurance carriers would like you to believe, not all insurance companies offer the same watercraft insurance coverages and it’s important to understand what coverages exist in your policy.  Watercraft insurance policies are typically available through 3 different types of coverage; Actual Cash Value, Agreed Value, or Total Loss Replacement coverage.  Actual Cash Value policies offer repair or replacement of your watercraft minus depreciation.  Agreed Value policies offer repair or replacement of a partial loss at no depreciation and pay market value of the watercraft up to the coverage amount listed on the policy in the event of a total loss.  Total Loss Replacement offers agreed value on repairs or a new boat entirely in the event of a total loss.  It’s recommended that you read your policy thoroughly or speak with your agent directly to understand exactly how your boat will be covered in the event of
a claim.  Not all insurance carriers treat Agreed Value and Total Loss Replacement coverage the same.  For instance, certain insurance carriers utilize an Agreed Value settlement method that pays the lowest of the amount necessary to replace the stolen or damaged property, or the amount necessary to repair the damaged property to its pre-loss condition.  This can result in aftermarket or used parts which could have an adverse effect on your boats performance, resale value, or potential issues with voiding the warranty.
Chain Reaction” Type Losses
There’s nothing worse than cutting a day on the water short due to a break down or equipment malfunction.  What’s worrisome is that some insurance carriers will only cover a portion of a watercraft loss in the event of a “chain reaction” of damages within the scope of the claim.  It’s important to seek out a policy that provides coverage for indirect physical loss, in addition to direct physical loss.  Damaging your lower unit by striking a rock is an example of a claim that would constitute direct physical damage since the loss is directly related to the object it came into contact with.  This type of coverage is the basis of which most watercraft insurance policies are written.  What is not covered under most marine insurance policies are indirect physical losses.  For an example, a boat’s impellor sucks up some weeds, which then causes damage to the impellor.  Any further damage that derives from the damaged impellor such as damage to a water pump or worst case scenario a powerhead, would not be covered under insurance policies that only cover direct physical losses.  Since the damage to the water pump or powerhead in this particular scenario would be considered an indirect physical loss, only the impellor would be covered.

Fishing Equipment Coverage
If you’re anything like me, you have enough fishing tackle that would rival a small tackle shop and your significant other has now idea how much all that “junk” is worth.  Undenounced to some, this particular coverage is a highly contested coverage issue that leaves most anglers unpleasantly surprised after a claim occurs.  It’s important to understand that most insurance carriers only cover fishing equipment when the said equipment is physically onboard the watercraft.  In the event fishing equipment is damaged or stolen in your garage, motel room or vehicle, coverage is not available through most watercraft insurance policies.  Instead it would need to be claimed under your homeowner’s policy which is typically susceptible to a $1,000 or more deductible and an increase on your home insurance rates for the next 3-5 years.
Living the Dream
I think a majority of us anglers would love fish for a living, but the reality is very few individuals are fortunate enough to do so.  This leaves most of us anglers fishing the occasional derby or guide trip with hopes that one day we can make this dream a reality.  What’s concerning is that under some boat insurance carriers, any act that is deemed for profit can result in coverage being denied, which would
result in a large coverage gap.  Surprising to some, not all insurance carriers allow tournament pursuits under their policy either.  They consider it a commercial use of the watercraft since the boat is being used for a monetary gain.  Insurance claim adjusters are increasingly keen on social media and the internet as a basis of gathering information for claim purposes and A simple tournament results sheet with your name on it could constitute coverage being denied if tournament use is excluded on the policy.  In addition, most personal boat insurance policies exclude guiding pursuits, although a select few insurance carriers do allow this to be added by means of a policy endorsement for a nominal fee.  If you’re engaging in these activities, it’s always a good idea to have this discussion with your agent to make sure you’re property covered when engaging in these activities.
In conclusion, reviewing your boat insurance policy and having a conversation with a knowledgeable agent regarding your insurance coverages should be high on your list this boating season.  As an insurance agent, spending a few minutes to review your coverages to ensure your possessions are properly coverage is the best advice I can give.
Tight Lines!
-Justin Schneider, Woods & Water Insurance