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Fuzzy Loves Bucket Mouth Bass

By R.J. Smiley

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The huge large mouth bass stood on its tale and spit the black and silver crank bait back at the surprised fisherman, Fuzzy Zoeller. Is this Lake of the Ozarks or Falcon Reservoir in Texas, both known for great bucket mouth bass fishing?

No, it is a special fishing tournament the Pro-Am Fishing Challenge, part of the 3M Championship back in 2010, on the two lakes that make up the major hazard on holes 14, 17 and 18 at TPC-Twin Cities. Once a pancake flat, potato field, this championship golf course and adjacent upscale housing development, designed by Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehman, is the home to the annual 3M Championship. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and when the PGA TOUR Champions comes to town each year, many of the pampered participants want to go fishing. Word is that many of the “real fishermen” who happen to play golf for a living want to catch a Muskie. Very few places outside Minnesota provide the opportunity to catch one of these truly trophy fish. Hollis Cavner, tournament chairman extraordinaire, has been known to arrange a secret Muskie fishing trip as an inducement to bring “big name players” to the Minnesota venue.

In the original course design the major question was, where do we get the earth to create the elevation changes and mounding that are necessary to create an interesting and challenging golf course? Answer; dig ponds that will act as irrigation reservoirs, intimidating water hazards and value adding amenities for home sites – a perfect solution to this fully built-out housing development and successful private golf course.

Fishing is forbidden in the lakes within the TPC-Twin Cities; which has allowed the natural population of sunnies and large mouth bass to reach optimum numbers and unnaturally large sizes. Hollis Cavner, promoter that he is, created a team fishing tournament as a preliminary event to the tournament to bring a new look and additional publicity to a very successful event. Teams were made up of a PGA TOUR Champions pro, a fishing pro and a celebrity.

The never fished, and always hungry bucket mouths did not disappoint the fisherman or the spectators. In a two hour 2010 event the team of Mike Hulbert, Brad Lieferman, fishing pro, and Steve Person caught 96 pounds of these prized trophy fish. Zoeller and his partners Dean Capra, fishing pro and Ron Schara finished second.

Local celebrity and outdoorsman, Ron Schara, caught the largest fish of the tournament, a 6 lb monster. Fuzzy Zoeller and teammates Brad Liferman and Gayle Schmidt were the winners of the second annual Pro-Am Fishing Challenge at the 3M Championship in 2011. Zoeller, Liferman and Schmidt bagged a total of 42 pounds during the event, nudging Phil Blackmer’s team by a mere three pounds.

Those in the know say that the effervescent Zoeller talked more about catching bass at TPC than the golf tournament.

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