Grant Ehlenfeldt was hooked on fishing at an early age.
As a 12-year-old, he won a national fly-tying competition in New York. In high school, he competed in the 2014 National High School Bass Fishing Championships in Tennessee with New Richmond teammate Charlie L’Allier.
While attending UW-Platteville, Ehlenfeldt competed for his school in the FLW College Fishing Central Conference and competed in the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship in South Carolina. In all, he competed in five national championship tournaments while in college, the most ever by a Platteville student.
Ehlenfeldt graduated from Platteville in 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Since graduating he’s been working in the engineering field, recently starting a new position with Polaris in Osceola.
Ehlenfeldt has also continued to fish competitively. He’s got at least one tournament scheduled for nearly every weekend this summer. He’s already notched a highlight to the summer that will be difficult to top. He and his fishing partner, Adam Neu, won the championship at the 32nd annual 2022 North American Bass Challenge Sturgeon Bay Open.
Neu was a college teammate of Ehlenfeldt’s at Platteville. Their 10 bass caught over the two days in early May totaled 52 pounds, 12 ounces, topping their nearest competitors in the 142-team field by 11 ounces. The total prize package they won, including a fishing boat which they sold, topped $41,000, which they split.
Ehlenfeldt gave Neu, who is a Sturgeon Bay native, much of the credit for their win. Neu fished in the Sturgeon Bay Open since he was 11, learning from his father, who was a professional walleye fisherman. Ehlenfeldt said Neu studied the migration patterns of the female bass coming into the shallow water from Lake Michigan to spawn, so they had a good idea on the water depths and temperatures to fish.
“This was very special, especially to Adam,” Ehlenfeldt said. “His career is fishing right now. That’s something I’d like to get to.”
Ehlenfeldt said they plan to compete at Sturgeon Bay again next year, in hopes of defending their title.
Ehlenfeldt credits his dad and his grandfather for getting him interested in fishing at a young age. His grandfather gave him his first fly-tying kit. He was strictly a fly fisherman until he reached high school. That’s when he was encouraged to join the junior division of the Indianhead Bassers, a bass fishing club based in New Richmond.
“As soon as I picked up a bass rod, I never touched a fly rod since then,” Ehlenfeldt recalled. “The competition aspect sucked me right in.”
That led to Ehlenfeldt being part of the first fishing team at New Richmond High School in 2014, where he and L’Allier qualified for state and for nationals.
Ehlenfeldt said he feels fortunate to live in this area, where there are so many lakes and they all offer different fishing conditions. Ehlenfeldt said he plans to buy his own fishing boat in October to help him work toward his goal in fishing.
“I’ve got a three-year plan of what I’d like to do. (Buying the boat) would be a big stepping stone in making this a full-time career,” he said. “Everything driving me is to compete in bass fishing tournaments.”