Reid Herd and Cody Rieland used to get dropped off at the lakes around Alexandria by their parents so they could fish together before they could even drive themselves to the water.
Herd says they’ve fished tournaments together since they were 15 years old, so they’ve developed a pretty good cohesion in the boat over the years.
“Cody and I have very similar fishing styles,” Herd said. “We’re not afraid to try new ideas and we trust each other. If Cody says he’s catching them at a spot, I trust him and I’m not going to doubt any of the decisions he makes on the water. There’s a lot of important decisions you’re trying to make during tournaments, and it’s important to have that trust and know you have a good partner.”
Their decisions paid off in a big way on July 16 while fishing a stop on Lake Minnewaska through the Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit. Thirty-five two-person teams, many of them area anglers, left the docks that morning. When all was said and done, Herd and Rieland were at the top of the field after bringing in a mixed bag of three smallmouth bass and two largemouths that weighed in at 17 pounds, 11 ounces.
“It was fun,” Rieland said. “It was a good one to win. We fish a few throughout the year. If I was going to pick one to win, this would have been the one, so it was a really good feeling.”
They beat out the second-place team of Will Pappa and Austin Felix by 11 ounces. Their reward for winning the tournament was $6,450 in cash and prizes, including $5,400 cash and $200 in Cabela’s gift cards. A good day’s work, as they far surpassed the $500 entry fee.
Herd and Rieland have fished Minnewaska many times over the years, so they knew a few areas to target that didn’t draw as much traffic. That likely helped them land a few of the bigger fish that they needed, Rieland says, but he was quick to say that they weren’t overconfident heading into the day.
“We had a good idea of what we wanted to do,” Rieland said. “It was just a matter of if it was going to work out or not. You never know that when you go fishing. The game plan wasn’t to go catch a bunch of fish. It was to hopefully get the right bites, and that’s what happened.”
The duo watched the weigh-in sitting in first place, and the nerves didn’t go away until the last bag was weighed.
“You’re fishing against a lot of great fishermen,” Herd said. “Half that field was locals and they’re probably all the best locals in this area. These are guys I looked up to before I even started fishing tournaments. It’s fun fishing against them.”
Herd and Rieland went after smallmouths early in the day by throwing swimbaits and swim jigs over sand in about five to seven feet of water. They then moved in close to the docks to pull out a couple nice largemouths.
“Minnewaska gets deep but we’ve never really been able to catch them too well out there,” Herd said. “Basically, it’s just a bunch of sand flats is where the smallies hang out. It wasn’t like it was a particular spot. There were long stretches where we didn’t catch anything, but we were in the right depth, we thought. We didn’t get a lot of fish but the ones we ended up getting were the right ones.”
The stop on Minnewaska is one of four tournaments that Herd said the two will fish in this summer. They grew up in Alexandria as close friends since middle school.
Both are 26 years old now, with Rieland working in Alexandria and Herd in St. Paul. Herd said the two would have liked to fish more of the four regular-season stops on the Cabelas NABC Circuit that covers lakes in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, but their schedules wouldn’t allow it.
That’s the case more and more at this point in their lives, which is what makes a win like the one they had on Minnewaska all the sweeter.
“It’s exciting,” Herd said. “Fishing is a tough sport because the majority of the time you’re going to lose. That’s just the reality of the sport, so when you finally get the chance to win you kind of just have to soak it in.”