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ALS tournament is back on Island Lake, or fish anywhere

The June 5 fundraising event will again use FishDonkey app’s catch-photo-release format.

A flight of anglers wait to head out fishing during the 2016 ALS fishing tournament on Island Lake north of Duluth. The 26th annual fundraising event is set for June 5 this year with anglers chosing to fish on Island Lake, in a traditional tourment format, or to fish anywhere they want and record their catch remotely. All fish entered must be recorded on the FishDonkey catch-measure-photo- release app. (Clint Austin / File)

After moving to an all-remote format last year during the early stages of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament will be back with a live fishing option on Island Lake this year and live social events.

The 26th annual event, set for June 5, will be entirely catch-measure-photo-release again this year, as it was in 2020, using the FishDonkey app to record each catch.

Anglers can fish on any lake they choose — anywhere in North America — and compete virtually. Or they can compete on Island Lake Reservoir north of Duluth where the traditional tournament was held for its first 24 years.

“The anglers on Island Lake will be competing against others on Island Lake and those on all the other lakes will be competing against each other,’’ said Blake Kolquist, tournament director. “It’s good to be able to get that camaraderie back with a live competition on Island Lake and all the events around that. … But if you want to fish somewhere else and still be a part of this cause, we have that option, too.”

Anglers on Island Lake also will use the FishDonkey app with no fish kept and no weigh-in.


"That's becoming the trend for most fishing events now, to protect the resource,'' Kolquist said.

The event is held each year to raise money to battle ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an always-fatal progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It’s sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Each participant must donate or raise contributions of at least $250 for Never Surrender Inc. (at least $500 for an Island Lake two-person team), the local nonprofit formed to oversee the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament and the Black Woods Blizzard Tour snowmobile event. Never Surrender allocates money raised to help ALS research and help ALS patients and their families. Prizes will be awarded for those who raise the most donations.

Pre-registration is required for either the remote or Island Lake options at neversurrenderinc.org .

Kolquist said the event has a COVID-19 protocol in place for all participants and volunteers.

Anglers can fish for walleye, bass, northern pike or crappie. Anglers catching the single-largest fish in each species will be recognized. There will also be a random drawing of prizes among all anglers submitting measured fish.

All anglers participating must download the FishDonkey mobile application designed for this event.

Anglers choosing to fish on Island Lake are asked to attend a check-in and social event at Skyline Social & Games in Hermantown between 1-8 p.m. Friday, June 4, with the team start time drawing set for 7 p.m. Flights of anglers will begin leaving the boat landing on Island Lake at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 5. An awards ceremony, raffle and dinner are being planned for Saturday evening at Amsoil Arena with the event also available to watch live online.


In most years, about 150 two-person teams participated in the event on Island Lake. Last year some 200 individual anglers from several states and provinces participated in the all-remote tournament, raising $170,000 to fight ALS.

Over the past 25 years, the fishing tournament has raised $3.6 million dollars to battle ALS, while the Blizzard Tour snowmobile event has raised another $13.7 million.

For more information email sandy@neversurrenderinc.org or call 218-302-1331.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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