Cops, kids come together for catfish derby

JORDAN, Minn. - All too often an adolescent's first encounter with a law enforcement officer is a negative one. But not for kids in Scott County, the fastest-growing county in the state of Minnesota, located some 45 minutes southwest of Minneapolis. Youth in Scott County are meeting cops in a boat, not on the street. Started in 2001, the Scott County Sheriff's Office Catfishing Derby is one step in a proactive approach of connecting local law enforcement to area kids. Organizers term it "community policing." In other words, it's an opportunity to get youth outdoors and to introduce them to one of the nation's favorite pastimes: fishing. But the type of fishing they do is unique. This isn't bass fishing for $1 million or enduring 30-mile runs on treacherous Lake Erie. These kids, ages 12 to 16, get their hands dirty on the Minnesota River in search of bottom-dwelling catfish. The event, which pairs two teens in a boat with one cop, is held each year on the first Monday in August. Takeoff is at 7 a.m., and all participants make their way back to the Scott County Fairgrounds for a barbecue and an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. For participating in the catfish derby, each kid received a free T-shirt among other things. Because of logistical restrictions, the maximum number of kids the derby can accept is 50. That number was reached in less than a week after registration opened - and for good reason, as each kid left with an assortment of fishing gear that included a rod and reel combo, a Stearns life vest, a Yamaha cap and a T-shirt that read, "Get hooked on fishing, not drugs." Even more prizes were given away through a raffle, the best being a multilevel tackle box filled to the brim with line, jigs, bobbers, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, etc. So what's the cost for a youngster to partake? Entry into the derby is absolutely free. All that is needed is a positive attitude and functioning forearms, because catfish in the Minnesota River can get pretty heavy. Just ask Shakopee teen Jeff Doege, who caught the biggest fish of the day, a 35-inch channel cat that weighed approximately 20 pounds. Scott County Chief Deputy Dean Opatz is the creator of the annual catfish derby. Opatz is an accomplished fisherman himself, having caught a 66-pound blue catfish, a 48-pound flathead and 32-pound channel in the same year. That feat is considered the grand slam of catfishing, one of the highest honors a river angler can achieve. In addition to establishing a relationship between law enforcement and the community, Opatz said he wanted to show kids that cops are people just like everybody else. "When we first started, we had about 15 or 20 kids," said Opatz, who has since delegated the The Red Team defeated the Blue Team by a score of 2,136 inches to 1,713 inches.organizer's role to coworker Mark Hartman. "We now have 50 kids, and we're looking for ways to accommodate more. We're really proud of our growth, because if you look at the statistics, today's youth are not taking up the sport like they used to." Just as catfish are a little different from the bass or walleyes that are typically pulled out of Minnesota waters in tournament fishing, the format of the derby is a little out of the ordinary. Kids are put in one of two divisions: the Red Team and the Blue Team. Immediately after being caught, the fish are measured and quickly released to the river. This year, the Red Team accumulated 2,136 inches of catfish while the Blue Team garnered 1,713 inches. Unofficially, it was the best catch in the derby's seven-year history. If anyone doubts the impact the catfishing derby can have on a kid, he need only scan the ranks of Shakopee's battalion of blue for evidence. Travis Goerish, 22, works full time with the Shakopee Police Department. He's been volunteering as a boat captain at the catfish derby for the last six years, but he first participated in the event as a kid. It was on the grimy waters of the Minnesota River that Goerish developed a passion for both catfishing and law enforcement.Two teens enjoy a day of catfishing on the Minnesota River. "My first time out, I kind of got hooked on catfishing," he said. "It's a different kind of fishing. I was 15 years old when I first fished this. I didn't really think about it at the time, but it was a chance for me to see what police officers are like outside of the job." Now a patrolman, Goerish is trying to provide today's youth with the same positive experience he received. "The highlight of the day in our boat was a 27-inch flathead. The kids said they had a blast." Whether Minnesota law enforcement can expect any more future recruits as a result of the derby remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Many area kids enjoyed a day of fun in the sun while getting to see cops in a different light and being introduced to the wholesome sport of fishing. Fifty kids, ages 12-16, participated in the seventh annual Scott County Sheriff For more information on the Scott County Sheriff's Office Catfishing Derby, contact Mark Hartman at (952) 496-8726 or via e-mail at

Tags: industry-news  brett-carlson 


LEER “Cover Cash” Program Pays Anglers at All Levels

From FLW pros to Walmart Bass Fishing League competitors to top team tournament anglers, nearly any competitive fisherman who purchases a top-quality LEER truck cap or tonneau cover and signs up for free for the LEER “Cover Cash” contingency program could cash in this season. Best of all, it’s not necessary to win a tournament to get a “Cover Cash” check in the mail – simply be the highest-finishing eligible “Cover Cash” participant in any of the program’s dozens of qualified events. Plus, LEER has made coupons available to help anglers save money on their initial LEER product purchase. READ MORE »


A Toho Trifecta for the Typhoon Team

When the scales closed on the final day of the Walmart FLW Tour season opener on Lake Toho, a trio of Typhoon pro anglers occupied the top three spots. Typhoon pros JT Kenney, Scott Canterbury and Wesley Strader topped the field with over 74-pounds of bass apiece. Each angler relied heavily on his polarized Typhoon sunglasses in what was an event where sight fishing was paramount. READ MORE »


FLW to Host International Events

Named after the founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW introduced its Fishing League Worldwide tagline last year to better reflect its status as the world’s largest tournament fishing organization. Today FLW expanded its presence on the world stage yet again with the introduction of a sanctioning program allowing international partners to license the iconic brand and run FLW tournaments abroad. Each partner country will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new international division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. The highest finisher among countries represented in the international division will then advance to the Forrest Wood Cup, making it the sport’s only true world championship. READ MORE »


Gene Larew Lures Joins with FLW

Gene Larew Lures, a Tulsa-based manufacturer of a full line of soft plastics, has signed on as an FLW sponsor for 2015. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “We are pleased that Gene Larew is working with FLW,” says Patterson Leeth, vice president of marketing at FLW. “The company’s soft plastics are known for their consistency and high quality, and Gene Larew’s affiliation will benefit our anglers, members and fans.” This merger brings together one of the oldest names in soft-plastic lures with the world’s largest bass-fishing tournament organization. READ MORE »


Parkway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Offers Ram Trucks Contingency Award

Parkway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Benton, Ky., has introduced a contingency award for Walmart Bass Fishing League anglers following last month’s announcement of a strategic marketing agreement that named Ram as the official tow vehicle of FLW. Parkway will award $750 to the highest-finishing boater and co-angler that is the owner of a 2014 or newer Ram truck purchased from the dealership in each BFL LBL Division tournament of 2015. READ MORE »


Snag Proof to Sponsor Mark Daniels Jr.

Snag Proof Lures announces that it has enhanced its national pro-staff team with the addition of Tuskegee, Ala., angler Mark Daniels Jr. “I am very excited to have Mark Daniels Jr. be a part of the Snag Proof team,” says Nathan Chandler, president of Snag Proof Lures. “Mark has been a longtime fan of Snag Proof and a dominant shallow-water fisherman, making this a great fit for us. It would not surprise me to see him win an event on a Snag Proof frog this year. “ READ MORE »


Lefebre Signs with Quigley 4x4

Quigley Motor Company, manufacturer of four-wheel-drive conversions for Ford, General Motors and Nissan, announces its yearlong sponsorship with top-ranked professional angler Dave Lefebre. As part of the sponsorship agreement, Lefebre and his family will travel the Walmart FLW Tour in a Quigley 4x4 Van. READ MORE »


Everett Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Offers Ram Trucks Contingency Award

Just one day after Ram Trucks CEO Bob Hegbloom and FLW announced a strategic marketing agreement that names Ram as the official tow vehicle of FLW, Everett Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Springdale, Ark., becomes the first dealer to introduce a contingency program for Walmart Bass Fishing League anglers. READ MORE »


FLW Adds Ram Trucks as Official Tow Vehicle

FLW, the world’s premier tournament-fishing organization, and the Ram Trucks brand announced today a strategic marketing agreement that names Ram as the official tow vehicle of FLW. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »


Nicole Jacobs Joins Huk Performance Fishing Team

Huk Performance Fishing, a major manufacturer of fishing apparel, has signed a sponsorship agreement with Walmart FLW Tour co-angler Nicole Jacobs. READ MORE »


FLW, The J.M. Smucker Company Extend Partnership

LW has renewed its sponsorship agreement with The J.M. Smucker Company to feature Folgers, the iconic American coffee brand for more than 150 years. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “The J.M. Smucker Company has been a valued partner of FLW for many years,” says Trish Blake, president of FLW’s marketing division. “The Folgers Morning Take Off is always a huge hit and complements the family-friendly atmosphere perfectly at our tournaments. We’re excited to partner with the company again in 2015.” READ MORE »


New Stays with Charlie’s Worms

Bryan New, the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup co-angler champion, has renewed his sponsorship agreement with Charlie’s Worms. The North Carolina angler has collected more than $132,000 fishing FLW events and has three wins to his credit, including the Cup, a Walmart FLW Tour event at Lake Eufaula in 2013 and a Walmart Bass Fishing League tournament on Lake Wylie the same year. READ MORE »


Lew’s Partners with Missouri FOP in Fundraiser for Wounded Officer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Lew’s and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police have teamed in a major fundraiser to benefit Springfield, Mo., police officer Aaron Pearson and his family. Pearson was seriously wounded in late January while responding to a burglary call. READ MORE »


Lew’s Launches BFL Loyalty Program

Lew’s announces the launch of its new Speed Fishing Awards Incentive Program for anglers competing in any 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisional tournament. The membership-based brand-loyalty program is designed to benefit participating anglers who either win or who finish highest among Speed Fishing Awards members in the top 20 of any of the 120 BFL divisional events held across the country. To be eligible for the program’s cash and product prizes, anglers must own and have registered both a Lew’s rod and reel manufactured since 2010, be a current member of the Lew’s incentive program, and comply with participation rules that include displaying a Lew’s logo on tournament wear and boat. The cost to join is $29.95 per calendar year, with 2015 being the first year for the program. Membership includes a Lew’s cap and decals. READ MORE »


Greenfish Tackle Partners with Michael Murphy

Greenfish Tackle recently announced that they have partnered with FLW Tour pro Michael Murphy. READ MORE »


Red Gold Tomatoes Backs Hooked on Helping

Hooked on Helping founder Rich Dalbey announces two major boosts in 2015: Red Gold Tomatoes will join the cause by donating 1,000 pounds of tomato products, and Walmart FLW Tour pro Todd Hollowell will serve as a spokesperson to help increase awareness of the group’s mission, which is to assist local food banks by coordinating food drives at each Walmart FLW Tour event. READ MORE »


Watson Links Up With The Lithium Battery Company

Missouri pro James Watson has added The Lithium Battery Company to his 2015 sponsorship list. The Lithium Battery Company manufactures a range of batteries for marine and vehicle use. READ MORE »


Sprague Links With Bass Kandi Baits

FLW pro Jeff Sprague is the newest member of the Bass Kandi Baits pro staff. Sprague’s past success with Bass Kandi Baits products as a guide and a professional angler made joining the company’s pro staff an easy transition for him. READ MORE »


Fukae to Run Yamamoto Wrap in 2015

Walmart FLW Tour pro Shin Fukae has reached a title sponsorship agreement with Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits for the 2015 season. He’ll join Tour veteran Larry Nixon in a Yamamoto-wrapped boat. READ MORE »


Hollowell Signs with ALX Rods

ALX Rods announces that second-year Walmart FLW Tour pro Troy Hollowell is the newest member of the Team ALX Rods pro-staff. READ MORE »