Forty-two of the top walleye pros in the world began their four-day competition for a top cash award of $100,000, the richest prize in walleye fishing, at the National Guard FLW Walleye Championship on the Mississippi River on Thursday.
National Guard FLW Walleye Tour pro Danny Plautz of Madison, Wis., and co-angler Anthony Erdmann of Watertown, Wis., weighed in the day’s only five-walleye limit at 8 pounds, 14 ounces to jump to the top of the day one leader boards in their respective divisions. The duo now holds a slim 1-pound, 13-ounce lead over pro Ted Takasaki of Sioux Falls, S.D., and co-angler Tom Wiehoff of Pierre, S.D., who caught three walleye weighing 7-1.
“I had one spot where I caught my fish today,” said Plautz, who already has two top-10 tournament finishes in the 2012 season. “I stuck it out all day long and was lucky to pull out five fish. It’s an area that I found on my first day of practice. I caught a couple of fish and left it, and hadn’t been back since.”
While most tournament competitors decided to make the long run through the locking systems to fish in pool 14, known for having a better walleye population, Plautz decided to look for areas closer to the takeoff marina to maximize his fishing time.
“I’m staying in pool 16,” said Plautz. “The area that I’m fishing is pretty big, but I’ve really keyed in on one little spot that is paying off for me. There are a couple of other boats in the area, but they don’t really bother me. I’ve got the right baits.
“I’m casting crankbaits, but the specifics definitely mattered,” Plautz continued. “I don’t want to discuss what types or colors I’m using, but I will say I’m fishing shallow. And the current is definitely playing a role in how I’m catching my fish.
“I’m one of the first boats to launch tomorrow, so I’m confident that I can get back to my area first,” Plautz said. “I knew that I would catch a couple of fish out of there today, but I really didn’t expect to catch a limit. I know there’s still fish in the area, though, and I’ll be happy if I can get a couple of more fish tomorrow. I’m just going to fish hard the next couple of days and do the best that I can.”
The top 10 pros and co-anglers after day one on the Mississippi River are:
1st: Danny Plautz, Madison, Wis., and Anthony Erdmann, Watertown, Wis., five walleyes, 8-14
2nd: Ted Takasaki, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Tom Wiehoff, Pierre, S.D., three walleyes, 7-1
3rd: Kevin McQuoid, Isle, Minn., and Col. Scott St. Sauver, Little Falls, Minn., four walleyes, 6-5
4th: Gary Parsons, Glidden, Wis., and Dale Janota, Gillette, Wyo., three walleyes, 5-7
4th: Chevy pro Jason Przekurat, Stevens Point, Wis., and Randy Hummel, Jackson, Minn, two walleyes, 5-7
6th: Dusty Minke, Forest Lake, Minn., and Tyrone Larson, Amherst, Wis., three walleyes, 5-0
7th: Todd Zemke, Red Wing, Minn., and Chris Augustyn, Holdredge, Mich., two walleyes, 4-6
8th: Ryan Jirik, Rhinelander, Wis., and MSG. Leroy McCoy, Fridley, Minn., three walleyes, 4-3
9th: Eric Olson, Red Wing, Minn., and Steve Beasley, Macomb, Mich., two walleyes, 4-2
10th: National Guard pro Mark Courts, Harris, Minn., and Bruce Frevert, Centerville, Iowa, two walleyes, 3-11
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 54 walleyes weighing 101 pounds, 2 ounces caught by 42 boats Thursday. Plautz and Erdmann had the only five-walleye limit of the day.
Anglers will take off from the Centennial Park Launch located at 315 S. Marquette St. in Davenport, Iowa at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the River Center located at 136 E. 3rd St. in Davenport beginning at 4 p.m. daily.
In celebration of the festivities, Davenport, Iowa, mayor Bill Gluba and the Davenport City Council proclaimed the week of October 22-28 as FLW National Guard Walleye Championship Week.
The NPAA will be offering a free Youth and Family Fishing Clinic on Friday after the weigh-in beginning at 7 p.m. Prizes, including rods & reels, will be given away after the clinic. Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo at the River Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday the first 300 children 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau/Quad Cities Sports Commission. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a $500 Walmart gift card. The gift card giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
Coverage of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 2 from 1-2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Chip Leer and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors