BISMARCK, N.D. Sept. 22, 2011 – Keith Kavajecz of Kaukauna, Wis. and co-angler John Mickish of White Bear Lake, Minn., brought in five walleyes weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces Thursday to lead day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River. The pair now holds a solid 5-pound, 6-ounce lead over their closest rivals in an event featuring the top 40 pros and 40 co-anglers from the 2011 FLW Walleye Tour season. Pros are fishing for a top award of up to $70,000 and Co-anglers up to $12,000.
“I am a little surprised by today’s weight, I would have been happy with 15 or 20-pounds,” said Kavajecz, who is fishing in his first FLW Walleye Tour Championship. “I had a good practice, but this is a little surprising.
“I am fishing in an area where a good number of people are fishing,” Kavajecz went on to say. “But I think I am doing something a little differently than the rest of them which is why I was a little more successful. I am not using any live bait. I am jigging Gulp! Minnows. There are a lot of white bass in the area so by using the artificial bait I can get the bait down quickly allowing me more time to fish rather than tying my lines with fresh bait.
“The area is a sharp break near a feeder creek. I am in about 12 to 28 feet of water,” Kavajecz continued. “Waves of walleye are moving through the area all day long so it should replenish, but pressure from all the anglers fishing there could stop the flow of fish. I do have another area that I can try, but this is the only spot I went to today.”
Frigid temperatures and early morning fog didn’t seem to slow anglers down any today. Warmer temperatures and little to no wind is predicted for the rest of the week making for a real showdown on the Missouri.
Rounding out the remainder of the top 10 pros and co-anglers after day one on the Missouri River are:
- 2nd: OFF! pro Chris Gilman, Chisago City, Minn., Todd Dankert, Anoka, Minn., five walleyes, 21-6
- 3rd: EverStart pro Dan Stier, Mina, S.D., Tim Depooter, Rock Island, Ill., five walleyes, 21-4
- 4th: Perry Good, Minnetrista, Minn., Dave Barrett, Mosinee, Wis., five walleyes, 20-2
- 5th: Tommy Skarlis, Waukon, Iowa, Don Shepard, Lowell, Mich., five walleyes, 19-13
- 6th: Richard Zachowski, Milwaukee, Wis., Jimmy Cox, Bono, Ark., five walleyes, 17-14
- 7th: Walmart pro Dean Arnoldussen, Appleton, Wis., Lance Bainville, Mounds View, Minn., five walleyes, 17-13
- 7th: National Guard pro Bill Shimota, Lonsdale, Minn., Brian Boelter, Colgate, Wis., five walleyes, 17-13
- 9th: Chase Parsons, Brillion, Wis., Craig Cayemberg, Valders, Wis., five walleyes, 17-9
- 10th: Kevin Carstensen, Merrill, Wis., Tyrone Larson, Amherst, Wis., five walleyes, 16-3
Overall there were 184 walleyes weighing 525 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 40 boats Thursday. The catch included 33 five-walleye limits.
Anglers will take off from Hazelton Camp Ground and Access Area located 31 miles southeast of Bismarck on Highway 1804 at 8 each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the Bismarck Civic Center located at 315 S. 5th St. in Bismarck beginning at 5 p.m.
All 40 pros and 40 co-anglers will fish the first two days. On day three, Saturday, the field is cut to the top-20 and a co-angler champion will be crowned. On Sunday, the final day, only the top-10 pros will fish for the title.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Bismarck Civic Center, on Saturday and Sunday Sept. 24 and 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, free seminars, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. The first 300 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free Zebco rod and reel combo compliments of 103.3 US Country. All activities are free and open to the public.
This week’s catch will be donated to Trinity Lutheran Church, the Boy Scouts, House of Prayer youth and Spirit of Life Church.
Coverage of the FLW Walleye Tour Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors” and will air Nov. 13 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Chip Leer, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.