Pro-angler John Gillman, of Freeland, Mich., and co-angler Joe Jordan, of Hampton, Ill., brought 51.70 pounds of walleye to the scales to win the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) event on Lake Erie at Port Clinton, Ohio. Overall, the NWT event paid out over $350,000 in total winnings to anglers.
The event, which was set for Friday and Saturday June 14-15, was postponed by one day due to strong winds and high waves. The action began Saturday with anglers weighing huge sacks of fish. With the return of the winds and waves on Sunday, Tournament Director Anthony Wright made the decision to cancel the final day’s fishing.
“Angler safety is our number one priority at the NWT,” said Wright. “We had hoped to get in the final day, but with such strong winds and high waves, we felt this was the best course of action.”
Despite only having one day of tournament fishing, first-place pro Gillman brought in an impressive limit. The pro-angler ran east of the Port Clinton takeoff to the Avon point area, following the post-spawn migration. This strategy paid off with a per-fish average of over 10 pounds.
“I didn’t change my strategy even though we had that wind,” said Gillman. “We weren’t going to change what we were doing. If we went down there and they weren’t there, we would adjust.
“The winds blew into that shoreline,” said Gillman. “Actually, I think it might have helped push more fish in there.”
Gillman trolled crankbaits for most of the day, finishing with spinner baits to catch his limit. The angler credits his understanding of big lake currents to his success at the event.
“I don’t think a lot of people understand currents on the Great Lakes,” said Gillman. “I love big water; it’s what I’m best at. It was calm there and we were able to troll both directions. One direction, I would have to go one-and-a half mph and just a half mph in the other direction to get the same action out of my bait.”
Gillman took home $72,000 in cash and prizes for his efforts.
Taking first place in the co-angler division, Jordan was happy to have such a great pro partner.
“John was a consummate partner,” said Jordan. “He was a good educator. He really communicated well while we were putting the lures out and then as we were bringing fish back in. He has a really tight system that is very efficient. It wasn’t stressful.”
Despite the final day’s cancelation assuring Jordan a first-place win, the angler was ready to hit the water the next day.
“I was hoping to go out on day two with David Kolb,” said Jordan. “He was in fifteenth place so I knew he was on fish. But for purely safety reasons, I supported the decision regardless of where I was in the tournament.”
The co-angler won $7,675 for his first-place finish.
Completing the top finishers (Pro/Co) were: Chris Gilman/Cody Lubeley (47.54 pounds), Perry Good/Dan Kraft (47.16 pounds), Robert Blosser/Dave DeDecker (46.79 pounds) and Keith Kavajecz/Kevin Ellman (46.16 pounds).
The next stop for the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour is at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., July 26-27. Registration for the event is currently underway. Anglers who are participating in any of the numerous contingency prize programs are encouraged to submit all pertinent information before the event to remain eligible for any potential bonus money.
Each NWT event features over 100% payback. A fully rigged Ranger Boat, plus cash, is guaranteed for first place at each event – a total value of $57,000. Anglers that fish all three regular season events, in addition to the top points leaders, will qualify for the three day, entry-fee Championship.
The new circuit also includes unprecedented television and media coverage, allowing a national audience to watch the action unfold from each event throughout the season. Airing on multiple networks, the National Walleye Tour will be seen on World Fishing Network and Pursuit Channel, as well as the new NBC Sports Network.
Image courtesy Blue Heron Communications