October 19, 2018

Au Gres-Sims-Whitney Fire Department to host annual walleye tourney

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Au GRES — The Au Gres-Sims-Whitney Fire Department is holding its annual walleye tournament to raise funds for special equipment June 16.

“We use the proceeds for small equipment that we need, like chain saws,” fire Chief Kurt Humerickhouse said. “Our budget is like everybody else’s and it’s pretty tight. This helps with the small stuff. We use it for an emergency fund too, for things that we couldn’t budget for like a broken ax.”

This is the 24th year for the tournament, and Humerickhouse said it sees an average of 50-75 boats registering for the events with teams of two people or more.

Humerickhouse said because turnout for the event is so weather-dependent, he is extremely grateful for a local sponsor who provides the $1,000 grand prize for the heaviest stringer of five walleyes.

“The Bigelow family donates money to the fire department that guarantees the first-place prize,” he said. “A few years ago they had a trucking company and they had one of their semis catch fire between two other semis.”

Humerickhouse said because of the quick work of his crew, the department was able to save the other semis from substantial damage.

“I guess they have been thankful that we did it so they have been doing this for six years,” he said. “It helps us out too. Then we aren’t worried if we are going to have enough boats to pay the grand prize.”

The tournament pays out to the 10th place based on a 50-boat registration. It also pays out for the largest walleye.

Humerickhouse said this is the season for walleye tournaments and the multitude of options for anglers benefits everyone.

“I think it helps,” he said. “The more the guys fish, the more they get to know the water. It brings people into the community. Most of the guys that are fishing it are locals, but there are some guys that travel a distance to do it.”

The tournament is the sole fundraiser for the fire department, and Humerickhouse said the more boats that register, the more the department and community profits.

“If we can average 60 boats we can make a little money,” he said. “Another reason to do it is to have another event in the community to help the local businesses.”

The department receives an average of between $1,000 and $2,000 at the event.

“The big sponsor that we get helps out quite a bit, so that we can make a little more money,” Humerickhouse said.

The fire department is a joint department that encompasses approximately 84 square miles in the city of Au Gres and the townships of Au Gres, Sims and Whitney.

Humerickhouse said the event also wouldn’t be possible without the support of Heath Christie, the chairman of the event.

“He is an avid fisherman, so he is pretty good at what he does.” he said. “Hopefully the weather holds out. We have had a couple years that we had to postpone but we have made it through (23 years) without weather cancellations.”

Registration for the event is $25 per person with a two-person minimum per boat. The only limits on how many can be in the boat are based on the manufacturer’s recommended capacity, according to Christie. There will be a pre-registration at Edmonds’ Au Gres Inn Friday, June 15, from 6-8 p.m., or participants can register before the start of the tournament at the Au Gres State Boat Launch Saturday, June 16.

Boats will launch from Au Gres with a shotgun start at 7 a.m. and will need to be between the channel markers at the point by 3 p.m.

For more information, contact Heath Christie at 989-903-5082 or Kurt Humerickhouse at 989-387-8579.

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