FAIRMONT - Fairmont's lakes were busier than usual this weekend, as bright sunshine and blue skies welcomed anglers competing for cash at Fairmont Lakes Foundation's annual fishing tournament.
"I think people are going to do well," said foundation member Mike Humpal. "The fish are biting well this year."
During a brief shore pit stop, Dennis and Bonnie Gilliam, one of the 47 teams in the competition, said they had caught 13 fish just hours into the competition.
Anglers take full advantage of the lakes Saturday.
Humpal said 10 teams of two people would leave with awards totaling $2,500. Fish are judged by the most weight for four walleye and the most weight for 20 panfish. Another pot of money is split between the teams who caught the largest walleye and largest panfish.
The largest walleye and largest weight of up to four walleye went to Scott Deleiden. His largest walleye weighed in at 3.48 pounds, with the combined weight reaching 7.74 pounds.
The largest pan fish total weight came to 14.88 pounds for Phil Mooney and Mark Halbert's team. The top five teams in that category came within less than half a pound of each other.
"This is the best of any year we've had," Humpal said. "It hasn't been like that before; the bluegills weighed big this year."
The Gilliams ended up with 9.38 pounds of panfish and no walleye at the end of the competition.
Only five teams didn't catch any fish during the competition - the least number of teams that have come up empty in the history of the tournament.
Any money left over from entrance fees will go to the foundation to fund projects that benefit the lakes, Humpal said.
Fairmont Lakes Foundation operates the aerators in the lakes during the winter months to reduce fish kill-offs and built a fish cleaning house at Gomsrud Park.
Fishing began at 7 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. The Department of Natural Resources allowed the tournament to have 50 teams.
Anglers from the Mankato area down to northern Iowa made the trip, but Humpal said most of the competitors were fishing their home lakes.
Humpal said next year the competition will follow the same format it has for the past 11 years, but the date will be changed to the third weekend in May.