MWC-Saginaw Bay June 18th-20th
Day 2 PM
Story by Julia Davis
Two Young Guns Win the MWC at Saginaw Bay!
After graduating high school this past May, Justin Champagne and Josh Gordon, both of Au Gres, MI decided to partner up for their first MWC tournament. A decision that would prove to be a good one.
Sitting in second place going out this morning, the two 18 year olds came in this afternoon with the largest weight of the tournament. Their 5 fish limit tipped the scales at 25.12 pounds, bringing their total weight to 45.01 pounds.
The dynamic duo will take home $13,456.00 from the MWC, $500.00 for the Mercury Bonus Award, and another $1,000.00 for the Ranger Cup Bonus, for a total of $14,956.00.
Juls: Congratulations guys! So, what does it feel like to be number one?
Justin: It feels great! This is a big tournament... we didnt get a lot of sleep the past few nights.
Josh: This is what we've been waiting for, this is it! We wanted to show people what we can do.
Justin: This is our first year really getting into it... our second year fishing tournaments.
We ran 45 miles one way each day to get our fish.
Juls: So, what was your winning program?
Josh: Running spinners high in the water column behind 2 ounce inline weights, anywhere from 25-30 back. We used Colorado "deep" blades. The color changed every other hour, so it was purple all the way to chartreuse.
Justin adds, "light to dark as the day progressed".
Juls: How long did it take you to make that 45 mile run yesterday in those 4-5 footers?
Justin: We're running a Ranger with a Mercury motor, so it took us maybe an hour and 45 minutes. We ran 30-35mph the whole way. It was rough...we had both hands on the wheel.
Juls: Anything you would like to add?
Justing and Josh: THANK YOU MWC! The MWC is a great tournament!
Close, but no cigar:
Yesterday's leaders, Shannon Robinson of Standish, MI and his partner Craig Gushow of Midland, MI brought in another big basket today weighing in at 22.81 pounds. Bringing their total weight up to 44.38 pounds. However, It would fall just short of capturing the win for these two exceptional anglers.
Juls: How does it feel to have missed the first place spot by only ounces after leading the tournament on day one?
Shannon: Well, it's the first place loser, as I like to say? (He shrugs).
You know, we went out to try and get 20 pounds today, and we obviously did better than that...so, if somebody comes in and beats us...it is what it is. The other guys did a great job, and we're happy with what we did. We just fell a little short.
Craig: Congratulations to the first place team!
Juls: What were you two doing to catch all your fish yesterday and today?
Craig: Just pulling crawler harnesses with silver and gold hammered blades...primarily #4 and 5 Colorados, with 2 oz inline weights and chartreuse beads. Shannon adds, "We did run some fish inline weights" (referring to inline weights that are shaped like fish). Most of the time we were over 24-34 foot of water, and running the lines anywhere from 35 to 50 foot back.
Third Place is Devine:
Bob Devine, that is! Bob of Windsor, ON and his partner Steve Velte of Belleville, MI brought in a limit of fish that weighed in at 24.58 pounds to capture the third place spot with 43.90 pounds. Bob also was awarded the Oxygenator Bonus Award of $200.00, and the NPAA Bonus Award of $100.00.
Jeff Koester of Brookville, IN and long time teammate, Scott Rhodes of Traverse City, MI landed in 4th place this afternoon when they added another 21.17 pounds to yesterday's 18.35 pounds for a total of 39.52 pounds. Jeff also won the FCIS Bonus Award of $250.00. Jeff and Scott also split another NPAA Bonus Award of $100.00.
Todd Conner of Hopkins, MI and Mike Bringedahl of Twin Lakes, MI took over the number 5 spot with a total of 39.32 pounds when their fish today weighed in at 19.77 pounds.
Juls: You're in a top 5 again Todd...congrats! How does that feel?
Todd: It feels great...we're still looking for that elusive win yet. (He laughs)
We've been doing this 15 years, and we've taken probably 8 top 5's. We've taken second twice, so we're always looking for that win. We just couldn't get the big fish today...we got 4 good ones, then we had to weigh a 2 1/2 pounder that really killed us!
Juls: What was your program this weekend?
Todd: We were running spinners on 1 ounce inline weights 20-45 back at the deepest with 25-30 foot back probably being the best. When it got really windy we switched over to snap weights. With the surging, it seemed the snap weights really helped out a lot.
#6 silver willow leaf blade with chartreuse beads were our best performers
"The ride was great today", he says with a smile. "A lot better than yesterday. I could even drink a cup of coffee on the ride out today."
Big Fish Awards were as follows:
1st Place: Ron and Vickie Goldapski with a big fish of 8.03
2nd Place: Scott Schabel and David VanDriessche with a big fish of 7.85
3rd Place: Bill Murray and Bob Murry with a big fish of 7.30
4th Place: Shannon Robinson and Craig Gushow with a big fish of 6.76
1st Place: Andy Kuffer and Ronnie Rhodes with a big fish of 6.96
2nd Place: Nate Capton and Dave Waldeck with a big fish of 6.83
3rd Place: Bob Devine and Steve Velte with a big fish of 6.75
4th Place: Scott Yarman and Jaosn Walls with a big fish of 6.39
The Toyota Bonus Award went to Alan Baumgardner of Esses, MD
John Pinner: A Portrait of Courage in the Face of Adversity
Juls: John, this is hard, but you have a story to tell. A story that will touch many people, and hopefully will inspire them to never let anything stand in their way, or to ever give up!
It's a story, that I believe, shows what having a passion for something can do to enrich a person's life and touch other's lives in ways we never normally don't even think about. Tell us your story, please.
John: I have terminal cancer. I found out on March 27th, 2008.
I found out basically, because I was bleeding to death.
I went to the ER, and they found that I didn't have any blood left in me. Then they did some tests and found a tumor in my stomach. Then it rapidly progressed to my lymphnoids, liver, and all my organs in my mid section.
Juls: Why is it you wanted to fish this event?
John: I had already signed up for this tournament prior to March 27th. For two weeks I had received blood transfusions everyday to keep me alive, and they were waiting for me to make the decision to die at that point.
Finally, a doctor at the University of Michigan Hospital decided he could stop the bleeding by shooting radiation into me, after many others said they couldn't.
After 11 days of going down in the morning to get my radiation treatment, and then coming back in the evening to get a blood transfusion, to keep me alive...they were able to stop the bleeding, so I was able to NOT make the decision to die at that time.
Then we started pursuing the dream of finding a cure, of course. My family and I traveled all over the country...while in Huston, TX we met with some of the best specialists in the world.
I had 17 doctors tell me its time to go home and live my life.
So, I went on Hospice in June. And Hospice came in and asked, "What are your goals?". I told them, "I want to fish! I want to get back in my boat, and I want to fish!". So, through their drug regime and their care, because they are a "comfort care" not a cure....through their care, I was able to regain enough strength to get back in my boat.
June 16th, which happened to be my 43rd birthday, was my first day back in my boat. I've been in the boat ever since...fishing...practicing this week for the tournament.
Tomorrow, they are going to re-evaluate me, and I think they will be taking the boat back...for quite a while. (his partner, Scott Kraenzlein chuckles with a knowing laugh, that only one who has spent much time in the boat with John would be able to do at this point).
I just got this new 2008 Ranger 620 powered by a Yamaha 250. In fact, I'm sponsored by Lindy Sales, and I just inked that deal 13 days before I was diagnosed. I received the boat deal. I did my seminars over the winter, and it was really taking off.
My wife quit her job last year. I was going to pursue the "Tour" next year, and she was my support group. I couldn't do this without her. She's been up every morning at 3AM through the whole practice and the actual tournament. For years she's been helping me with my dreams. She's my rock...it's just a great relationship.
Juls: You are a living testament to passion and courage, and an inspiration to many I can clearly see.
John: Well, I hope so. I hope I can touch somebody's life before this is all over. Obviously, I hope this doesn't end the way they say it's going to end, but (he hesitates at the thought, and his voice gets softer) I think it's going to.
Juls: How long have you and Scott been partners?
John: I fished the co angler side of a PWT event here back in 2005, and that got me hooked! Scott had a 14' boat 5 years ago, that we used to fish walleyes out of. I said to him, "we need to upgrade", so I bought a Lund Pro V, and we've been fishing tournaments together ever since.
Juls: So, some of your best memories are out of that 14 footer, yes? (I ask with a wink)
John and Scott start laughing in unison and loudly say, "NO!" They added, " Some memories of fishing in that 14 footer got us to move up to a bigger boat though!"
Juls: Thank you, John, for sharing your story with us here on Walleye Central. You are among friends here, and we all wish you the very best. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers now and forever.
God Bless You John Pinner! God Bless!
Please join Walleye Central next week as we visit the Michigan waters of Bay de Noc in Escanaba, MI where the FLW Walleye Tour kicks off the last of the regular season events on Wednesday July 23rd at 3PM.
We plan to have a live webcast of the FLW event, so you can enjoy the weigh in from the comfort of your own home, or the convenience of your Blackberry!
See you there!