A Rather Fishy Adventure: Our Trip to the Bassmaster Fishing Tournament

A Rather Fishy Adventure: Our Trip to the Bassmaster Fishing Tournament

By Emily Oyos

A few months ago, my fellow intern, Jessie, texted me wondering if I wanted to be her co-pilot on the drive to the Bassmaster Elite Fishing Tournament in Pierre.  Not really knowing what Bassmasters was, but always ready for an adventure, I quickly replied, “Yes!”  By late June, we had started preparing for our trip: cutting out hundreds of paper fish, buying craft supplies at Hobby Lobby, and of course purchasing snacks for the car ride.  Before we knew it, the time to leave had arrived, so we hopped in the Impala and started the over 200-mile drive to Pierre, South Dakota.  During the four days we were in Pierre, Jessie and I did an Instagram Story takeover of the TOC Instagram page that included numerous puns and jokes.  It was a “reely” great time! The following is a recap of our exciting trip; who knows, maybe a few of our Instagram stories will reappear.

Emily blog post 1

Day 1

Our trip started out as any great road trip should – with a Disney singalong!  From Tangled to The Lion King to Beauty and the Beast, we made sure to sing all the classics at the top of our lungs.  We may not been in “tuna,” and we may have “floundered” a few words, but we still had a “fintastic” time!

Anyone who has ever traveled across the great state of South Dakota knows that a stop at Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain is a must.  Even though we had just been there a few weeks ago on our way to the intern picnic, Jessie and I decided to stop again and climb the plastic bison out front.

35634724_10155466816072466_9143759518033772544_nWhat did the buffalo say to his son when he was leaving for college?  Bison!


A little over an hour later, we arrived in Pierre, made a mandatory stop at the Capitol building, and bought a Treatzza Pizza at Dairy Queen that would last us all three nights.  (In case you were wondering, it does work to cut an ice cream pizza with a pocket knife).  That night we played an exciting few rounds of the board game Life, drank lemonade, watched HGTV, and stared out the window as the tornado sirens went off around Fort Pierre.  We watched fearfully as the fishermen in the hotel parking lot covered up their boats before the storm hit.  Thankfully, the storm passed before any damage occurred.

Day 2 and Day 3


Saturday morning was the official start of The Great Outdoor Festival that South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks was holding at Steamboat Park in conjunction with the Bassmaster Tournament.  Jessie was in charge of the fish crafts, while I, along with two interns from TOC West and a State Parks intern from Pierre, were in charge of paddle boarding and kayaking.  I quickly put my TOC boating training to use, and taught people how to kayak and paddle board (even though I had never gone paddle boarding myself).

Emily blog post 4

Emily blog post 5Sarah, a TOC West intern, demonstrating her excellent paddle boarding skills.


Following the festival, Jessie, Sarah, Payton (the two interns from TOC West), and I headed over to the Bassmaster weigh-in where we watched the fishermen bring in their catches from the day.  For some, it went swimmingly, while others had a rather crappie day. Jessie and I would like to give a special shout out to Adrian Avena, the professional fisherman who was staying at our hotel, and who ended up getting 15th place out of 107 at the tournament!

Emily blog post 6

Saturday night, Jessie taught me a new card game, and we once again drank copious amounts of lemonade and watched more HGTV.


Sunday was very similar to Saturday, with a day full of crafting, boating (only a few rescues had to be made for children who drifted past the buoys), watching the weigh-in, and playing five rounds of Life in the hotel room.  If you ever want to win at Life, let me know.  Chances are you’ll probably win, as I lost all five games.  For supper, we stopped at Pizza Ranch because according to one little girl at Jessie’s craft station, “Pizza is always best after a long hard day.”  She was definitely right!

Emily blog post 7Adrian Avena at the weigh-in.


Day 4

After an exciting few days in Pierre, it was time to head home to Sioux Falls. With the Impala packed with leftover craft supplies and two tired interns, we began the journey home.  Prior to this trip, neither Jessie nor I had ever been to a professional fishing tournament, but we can now add that to the list of awesome experiences we have had as TOC interns!  Thank you to TOC for sending us to Pierre, and a special thank you to Jessie for being the best road trip partner out there!

As you can sea, I’m rather hooked on fish puns and I’ve bass-ically included all I cod think of, but if you get the opportuna-ty, let minnow of any other reely great ones.

Emily blog post 8

Growing to love ALL of South Dakota

Growing to love ALL of South Dakota

By Laramie Giles

South Dakota has always been and will always be home. South Dakota is a beautiful state with rolling plains in the east and black hills in the west. I was born right here in Sioux Falls, growing up in the city for most of my life. Now, as an adult, I split my time between both sides of the state. I spend a lot of time in Rapid City where I attend the School of Mines, but I also spend lots of time home in Sioux Falls for summer vacation and other holidays throughout the year.

school of mines laramie


One thing I tend to hear a lot of people say is, “South Dakota is Sioux Falls and Rapid City with nothing in between”. Now, as someone living in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City, I have to disagree completely with this ‘boring’ conception about the middle chunk of our state.  I take this long drive across the state many times a year, and I can tell you it is NOT boring.

Driving East


The beginning of my drive from Sioux Falls to Rapid City starts out with a look at the big flowers, giant gold fish, and a huge bull head at the Porter Sculpture Park. After that, there is no better sight than when I-90 twists and turns to reveal the Missouri river at Chamberlain. Even after driving so many times I still get excited to drive over the bridge! And then I see her, Dignity, the most breathtaking sculpture along my drive.


I love to watch a thunderstorm slowly draw closer as I head west, waiting for the rain to come down. And who can forget the innumerable Wall Drug billboards to count as you drive? But there’s so much more than just signs and storms to watch as I drive. I get to see all kinds of wildlife like deer, antelope and tons of cows with their playful calves.

10411236_279077532299011_7546818798183397343_nNDSUNorthDakotaDroughtAs I come closer to the end of my drive the beautiful badlands come into view and the edges of the Black Hills are in sight. For me those dark black hills covered in spruce (our state tree) mark my new home. This beautiful isolated mountain range offers limitless wildlife, hiking, camping, and trails to run on. Mount Rushmore, Keystone (with the best saltwater taffy shop), the Mickelson Trail, and Harney Peak are all less than 45 minutes from my dorm. How awesome is that?

DSC_3999Of course saying goodbye to Sioux Falls is never easy. Goodbye to friends and family, goodbye to the best running paths, and my thinking bridge in Dunham Park. So long to the Empire Mall, with around seven million visitors annually, where small me would throw pennies into the big fountain and beg mom for a pretzel. Goodbye to Gitchie Manitou and all the spooky feelings, goodbye to Falls Park with all its power and beauty, and the best Christmas lights in town. The hardest goodbye will now be The Outdoor Campus East; the best place for a summer internship.

32864640_1698679593581518_5164318498331033600_oI can’t believe how fast this summer is going, soon it will be time to pack up my car and hit the road west with my beta fish Solstice. I am already looking forward to coming home to Sioux Falls, at the same time getting really excited about moving to Rapid City for the next school year. I feel that I belong to both East River and West River of South Dakota; the best state to call home.