By: Katie Pieper, Guest Blogger
I have been fishing the Zippel Bay Northern Pike Tournament for 8 years with my fishing partner Katie Berg who has been fishing the tournament for 17 years of the 20 year tournament. She started fishing with her dad in the beginning and as years past he decided to retire and I was able to step in. The tournament has always been the last weekend of April dependent on the weather. There have been a few cold years where the ice could still be seen on Zippel Bay where the tournament is held. Some years the tournament has been bumped back due to ice. It is extremely exciting yet competitive tournament for us. Our main goal every year is to beat our husbands Chris Pieper and Greg Berg, who are also a team. They have fished the tournament ever year since the beginning. Our excitement starts to build in early April as we get ready, checking our lines and lures. We prepare babysitting for the kids to make sure we have a fully uninterrupted weekend of Northern fishing.
Saturday morning as the sun rises we get our many, many layers on to stay warm for no matter what the weather brings! Everyone warms up their boats and watches the steam rise off the bay, secretly getting excited and anxious to see if they can catch that over 40″ Northern every one dreams about. The shot gun goes off at 8:00 a.m. for the first heat and the boats fly from the starting line, racing to get their spot. Katie and I have developed a system that works best for us, which includes music and lots of laughter. I’m pretty sure that’s how we draw the “big one’s” in! The limit is 6 Northerns per team and only two lines. It’s a race to get as much weight as you can before 4 p.m.on the first day. There is nothing more exciting than getting a hit and wondering, will it be a “big one”? As you start to reel and the fish starts to fight the adrenaline builds. When you pull up a 43″ Northern for the first time it is truly amazing as you see the head of this huge fish emerge from the water.
When everyone is back in for the evening Deanna, Nick and the staff at Zippel Bay greet you with warm how’d you do’s and cheering you on. Everyone waits for the leader board to show on the screen and see where we all fall into place. Even if you fall short on Saturday there is still a chance for Sunday! The great part about this tournament is it can change quickly with just one fish in your favor. It’s one tournament I will never miss as long as I’m able. The people are great, the fishing is amazing and the opportunity to win is in your reach.