Wind a Concern For Several Top Ten Today-Day 3 of the FLW Walleye Tour Championship
September 24, 2010
The wind was howling while pushing rain sideways at times as the FLW Walleye Tour Championship Top Ten qualifiers unloaded boats into the water this morning. Gathering under a tent set up by the FLW crew, they were treated to hot coffee and delicious pecan rolls and Danish rolls of various flavors. The Pros took a few moments to talk with Walleye Central about how it feels to be one of the top ten championship qualifiers, what they think of the weather and how it will affect their spots, and what they are doing to catch their fish. Below are their responses beginning with the first place qualifier down through tenth place. (In the Photos youíll find the Pro on the left and the Co on the right)
Pat Byle of Colgate, WI and Co, Cal Van Cleve of Wilmot, SD: It feels fantastic! Iím absolutely thrilled to death, and to be leading it is just a bonus, but itís an awesome feeling. Itís been a lot of hard work.
Juls: What do you think of this lovely weather today? (Smirk)
Pat: I think itís ridiculous! (Laughs) I was just talking to Scott SteilÖwe concur that this has got to be the most miserable year of weather weíve ever had. Weíve had anything from 5 inches of rain at Winnebago to the wind cranking at the Illinois River and Detroit, itís just been brutal all season.
Juls: Whatís your game plan with this weather? How is this going to affect you, or wonít it?
Pat: Itís hard to say. Itís probably going to affect my spot. The big fish I have going have been so aggressive that boat control probably wouldnít even be an issue. Just getting the bait in their faces is important. But, you never know. Itís blowing, I would say a sustained 20-25 mph right now, and itís supposed to blow a sustained 30-35 by 11 oíclock, so I just donít know. I donít know what itís going to do.
Juls: Yesterday, you said you had some big fish that were biting so light that you could only detect it by seeing a subtle bend in your rod, so with this wind blowing your line around are you even going to be able to detect that kind of bite?
Pat: Well, with the wind blowing they usually get really aggressive. Where I was fishing yesterday, although it was a breezy day, I had my bow-mount on 30% max, so I was scooting around, so I could pick up those bites. But, yeah, what itís going to take is probably having the baits a little higher in the water column and hope the aggressive ones come after it. Itís going to be moving faster.
Juls: Iím guessing youíre rigging like everyone else. Are you using Red Tails or Creek Chubs?
Pat: Weíve got Red Tails. We used some Rainbows and Iíve even caught some on Suckers. I think itís getting it in their face. Iíve been using the Lowrance HDS to determine which are the right fish. Being able to tell the difference between a 21, or even a 22 inch fish, from that 26, 27, or 28 inch fish is huge. I decided to fish for big fish first, and in a way, gamble, but having the HDS I spend at least the first few minutes just looking to find the right school of fish. Not just ďa school of fishĒ, but the ďright school of fishĒ.
Terry Filkens of Lake City, MN and Co, Jason Anderson of West Fargo, ND: It feels wonderful! I wish we had a little better weather conditions today. Itís fairly miserable out again today. At least where Iím at itís fairly protected. I know a lot of the guys are out on the main lake and itís going to get snotty out there! Iím in a smaller bay and fairly protected, so I feel really good about that.
The fish havenít gone anywhere, and three of the top ten are thereÖmyself, ďBroĒ, and Kevin Merrill. On day one we beat them up pretty hard. We rifled through fish to get our ďoversĒ. Toby was in there a little bit on day one, but he left, and I think heís kicking himself for doing that now. I went through 5 dozen baits just in that day. We probably pulled between 110 and 120 fish out of there.
Juls: On day one you said you ran out of bait. Were you able to find some? Do you have more bait today?
Terry: Yes! I have bait today. Iíve got about 8 dozen large baits today. I called Jack Shriver, Iíve got his cell number nowÖI called Jack when I got off the water and told him the situation and he ran back down to the store and got me all hooked up, so that was real nice. He said if I needed anymore bait to call him on his cell phone and heíll go down and help me out. I mean, right there alone, it speaks for the town and the good people who live here.
Juls: What are you doing to catch fish?
Terry: Everybody is rigging. I trolled out here. I pulled spinners in prefish and I got a few fish on spinners. I got a few fish on crankbaits, but everybody knows you have to have your ďoversĒ here and youíre not going to win it with your ďundersĒ. You might be in the ball game, but everyone in the top ten has had ďoversĒ.
Juls: Are you fishing deep?
Terry: Yeah, my target depth is 22 to 35 feet. The fish move around in there, but thatís as deep as I would like to go. I didnít really want to go any deeper than 35 feet. If you pull them up from any deep than that, they are not going to survive. I know some of the guys are out real deep, but I just didnít want to do that.
This has been real fun. When I came in yesterday, Toby (Kvalevog) shook my hand. He wanted to know what I was doing out there, because ďBroĒ and I and Kevin, we put a clinic on out there. It was fun. Everyone was shaking there heads out there. It was fish after fish after fish after fish. Iíve never had a day like that. When you pull in 30 fish over 24 inches itís just a blast. My hands though (he turns them palms up so I can see them) those fish, they beat my hands up! (Laughs) My hands are sore and infected, but itís fun!
Thatís the spot that has gotten me here, so Iím just going to go there and grind it out.
Chris Gilman of Chisago City, MN and Co, Matt Hiller of Grand Rapids, MI: Iím pretty proud to be here! I wasnít sure going in that I could get any ďoversĒ and luckily enough, I did, so Iím happy!
Juls: Will this weather help you or hurt some of your spots? Whatís your game plan today?
Chris: It really hurts me, Juls. Iím fishing in the middle of the lake here and with this wind I really donít think that Iíll even be able to fish the spots that got me here. Luckily enough, I know the lake quite well and Iím hoping to at least scrounge up a limit. So, this weather has really thrown me for a loop. Iím actually, still, mentally trying to figure out where to go.
Juls: Now, you guys can only bring in 4 fish today?
Chris: Yep. Three ďundersĒ and one ďoverĒ, and it is what it is. Everyone is in the same playing field and I do think a lot of guys that do get on fish will make culling decisions that might hurt them. I think a lot of people will come in with three fish, because they will be trying to upgrade all day and then they wonít get one at the last minute. Iím usually more conservative, and I will put 15 and 16 inch fish in the livewell today if I have to.
Juls: Can I ask you what youíre doing to catch your fish? Whatís been working for you?
Chris: Iím rigging Red Tail Chubs in deeper water for my bigger fish, and then Iím running in shallower to pitch an 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a Rainbow, and basically itís just like trolling a jig, if you will, and letting the wind push me fairly fast, and just trying to find that pack of biters is what Iím doing. They seem to shift every day, so it does make it interesting before you find them.
Mark Courts of Harris, MN and Co, Peggy Severson of Fort Pierre, SD: It feels pretty awesome! This FLW Championship has kind of haunted me over the last few years. Iíve had a couple opportunities, all the way from Cleveland to last year ending up in 11th place, so Iím looking forward to today. Conditions are kind of just what I asked for up on stage yesterday, but a little extreme (Chuckles), so Iím looking forward to it. Itís not going to be fun out there. Itís supposed to blow up to 35 mph out of the northwest. Thatís just going to make getting around the lake difficult. Iíll be able to find spots that I can fish, that have fish, but getting around the lake is definitely going to be a chore. Iím just looking forward to it.
Juls: How many spots do you have?
Mark: A lot! Iíve probably got about 20 spots on the lake that I can feel comfortable going to with the wind blowing into them, and catch fish. So, thatís not the issue. Itís just a matter of where you can fish and actually be productive fishing. I mean, Iím not afraid to tell what Iím doing. Iím just using Northland Shiner jigs and Rainbow minnows. Iím fishing shallow, so thatís the key for what Iím doing. Iím fishing anywhere from 3 to 6 foot and a max at 8 foot, so thatís the other issue Iím going to get faced with today. Thereís going to be waves out there in that three to four foot range, so if youíre fishing 3 foot, it just doesnít add up! (Laughs) And, thatís going to be the key. Finding spots where I can actually fish and be productive.
Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, WI and Co, Todd Dankert of Anoka, MN: Awesome! It feels great! I was really looking forward to this one, because I like Leech Lake and I wanted to get back here. I wanted to be the first person to win the championship twice, so that was my goal this year. My other goal was to get to the top ten and hopefully finish decentÖand, Leech Lake, what a great place to do it. Itís awesome fishing!
Juls: Well, this weather sure isnít awesome, what do you think of that?
Dean: I donít know. I wanted it to blow. Iíve got a couple spots that we really pounded fish in while prefishing, and it was a northwest wind when we really got them and thatís what we got today. Itís a little strong, but theyíll go. Itís supposed to go 35, so if I can get some fish early on a couple of my spots and not have to put up with 35 mph winds that will be good and Iíll just come back to Walker Bay and try to get a big oneÖhopefully.
Juls: What are you doing to catch your fish?
Dean: Weíre fishing some rock points and most of the rock points that we were fishing had deep water by them, so when the wind blows it just seems like it pulls those big fish out of the deep water and they go up and feed up in the rocks. So, thatís obviously why I want the strong winds, but there is a couple shallow rocky flats that weíre fishing that have some bigger fish mixed in, but they have some nice slot fish in there. All the fish Iím catching are over 17 inches, so I have some really good slot fish going.
Weíre jigging. Weíre going to start out jigging and weíll probably jig for most of the day and see how we do on our ďundersĒ, and then weíll come in Walker Bay or a couple of other spots and weíll start rigging. So, weíll rig with some big Red Tails.
Paul Meleen of Isle, MN and Co, Darrell Martin of Forest Lake, MN: I guess it kind of validates my year. There will always be armchair critics out there, and I heard some things that werenít very nice. Iíve been at this a very long time, and I still looked at it as the main fishermen still fished, so the competition was still very strong. I worked with Jimmy Bell in the west, but in the east I was on my own and all by myself, so I was fishing against three, four, and five man teams, and thatís very hard. You have to work very hard to be competitive and I gave it everything I had. I left nothing there. Every time I wound my line in at the end of the day I took a deep breath and I said to myself, ďYou know what? You gave it your best todayĒ. And, if you do that you can move forward.
Juls: I know at Winnebago you were prefishing with your daughter, Greta, who is only 8 years old, and you fished until sun up to sun down, and I know youíve fished it before, but thereís a ton of water to figure out, so that alone is a feat.
Paul: And, other than last year, Iíve never fished there past June, so it changes a lot. But, Iím excited to be here and I think it validates my year and I think it puts me back on the map. I learned the lesson the hard way. Iím stubborn. For many years I was running my businesses out of my boat instead of prefishing. Whether it be liquor orders, bait orders, employee issues, vendor issues, tackle, bait, or marketing schemes, or whatever it was, and when you have 50 employees and a 24 hour business and an 8 million dollar operation, and youíre just not quite big enough to afford a real big key person to do it while youíre gone, that falls in your lap. Itís not an excuse; itís the reality of it. Several times I had to come in early to put out fires and that affects your fishing, you know?
When you leave town and thereís a lot on your plate, fortunately for my business, itís summer driven, and thatís the same time Iím gone. It would be one thing if I was gone during my slow season. We make our ďhayĒ from May 1st thru Labor Day. Well, guess when Iím gone? (Laughs)
My wife has been awesome! Like I said before, her business slowed and she said ďYou go fishĒ, and she told me that before the championship last year, and ever since then I think that Iíve been able to showcase my skill level.
Juls: So, what do you think of this weather today?
Paul: This is going to be an advantage for me. A. Because of my equipment, and B., because of my confidence in my boat control. I think that guys who spend most of their time in rivers or troll a lot on big water are not using that equipment in this kind of structure spot on the spot stuff, so they donít have that kind of experience, and I have a lot of it, so I think that bodes well for me.
Yesterday I had 4 ďoversĒ and I lost a 30 incher at the boat, and I did that all in 45 minutes and I got out of there. Those fish should still be there. The unfortunate thing is, we can only have one ďoverĒ fish today and tomorrow, so the reality of winning this eventÖboy, a lot of things would have to happen. And, I donít wish any ill will on any of my competitors, so my goal now is, Iím sitting in 6th right now, and Iím 5 pounds out of being in 4th, so my goal is just to finish in the top 5. Thatís my goal and Iím going to work hard at achieving it. Man! I wish I could have caught a couple slot fish yesterday. That hurt me.
Juls: What are you doing? Are you rigging also?
Paul: No, I am not rigging. I am jigging. I am jigging structure that a friend of mine, as I said on stage yesterday, over 20 years ago took me under his wing, and over the past 20 years has been my fishing partner, and he passed this year on the last day at Winnebago, so I didnít get a chance to say good bye. Yesterday I went to this particular spot. At 1 oíclock I had no fish. This spot was his favorite spot to fish. We always had to go there, because for whatever reasonÖit didnít matter if it was 90 degrees and calm or 50 degrees and 5 footers, we always had to go to this spot. I wheeled in there and I smoked my big fish. Heís probably mad, waiting all day corralling those fish for me saying, ďAre you ever going to get here?Ē So, I believe there was a blessing and hopefully he corrals a couple more for me today!
Brian Brosdahl of Max, MN and Co, Larry Oleson of Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Oh, this is great! I made the top ten a couple of times before and itís always been fun. This is my eighth FLW top ten and Iím very excited to go out. Itís fun fishing against the ďbest of the bestĒ. You canít have a down day. You canít miss anything, because theyíre all over it! Iím going to be the same way today. Iíve been saving a few spots; you kind of have to towards the end. Yesterday, I had one of them just under 26, which is our big fish slot, days where I watched other boats next to me catch them, and so it was my turn. It ainít happening today! (Laughs) Iím going to catch these fish, because it doesnít happen to me two days in a row. If it does, well, so be it, but Iím going to be blessed with some big fish today and I think weíre going to catch them.
Today, weíve got weather! And, when you get weather like this on Leech Lake, you relish it. You just enjoy it, because youíre going to catch fish. Who cares if I get wet feet? Iíve got my ďStorm SuitĒ. Iím not going to be wet anywhere else and itís going to keep me dry.
I will have minnows all over my boat. As I was saying earlier, the last two days when I would open the lid of my Frabill Bubbler the minnows are jumping out of it and I couldnít catch them all, because we were in some rough waves. So, thatís one of my tricks. Then thereís ďLive ForageĒ. I know there are some people who like using ice fishing stuff in the summer. Iím an ice fishing buff as you know, and Iíd like you all to check it out if you get a chance. I got a chance to use it and itís saved me big time when I didnít have any fish. The first day I cleaned up on it. I was hiding it in my hand just putting it over the side of the boat and was putting on a clinic, as you could see on the camera, but Iím not going to hide it today, because words already out. But, itís going to be fun!
Where Iím fishing, itís going to be a little rough, but remember this is Leech Lake, thereís always a place to hide.
Juls: Who makes this ďLive ForageĒ product and what is it exactly?
Brian: Northland Fishing Tackle has a new technology of putting a baitfish photo image on lead and metals, so they can create all these wonderful shapes and designs on spoons and blade baits. When youíre holding it in your hand it looks just like a live Perch sitting still in your hand. The blade baitÖthe Fish Fry Minnow TrapÖI put that down and if you lift your rod tip it shakes that rod tip like youíve got a fish. It just vibrates like crazy!
But, I havenít had to do that. They look at it and they eat it. You jig it once to let them know itís there and just kind of shimmy it, and even sitting still in this wind, itís moving down there. The fish just come up and thump it. Itís been great for my ďundersĒ and I did get an ďoverĒ on it, so itís awesome! Iíve been paranoid. I havenít even shown my Co anglers at times. I would just slip it in behind them. But, for the big fish I was adding a minnow on there, and for the little fish I donít need anything. Theyíre just on right here, so this is a lot of fun!
Scott Steil of Richmond, MN and Co, Ted Kaminski of Saint Anthony, MN: It feels good! My goal was to make a top ten and defend my title with a chance to repeat this. I left myself a 10 pound gap to make up, but with this four fish format and only being able to keep one ďoverĒ it leaves a lot of room to make up ground despite what people think.
Juls: We have some really wonderful weather today, how is that going to affect you, if at all.
Scott: Well, itís Leech Lake, and it never really gets that rough and there are always good spots to fish. Iím fortunate in that I know the lake well, and I had 12 spots going into this tournament and Iíve got probably three that are very fishable today and have been holding fish, so I feel confident that weíll get them. You still have to get the right bite and get the ďoversĒ. Mark Courts and I are fishing in the same areas and he had two of them yesterday. With my first dayís weight, I just needed to catch five fish, so I went out to catch five fish and let Mark catch the big ones, and fish those better spots, and he came through, so now weíre both in the top ten today.
Juls: Well, he said heís fishing real shallow, so I can only assume you will be doing the same program as him today?
Scott: Yep! Weíll be fishing very shallow, especially with this wind. You know, if it was calm we would change that program a little bit, but we havenít had many calm days in the last 10 days, so weíre fishing very shallow. Sometimes itís to the point that youíre afraid youíre going to hit your motor, itís that shallow, and yesterday I needed two more fish and I actually caught them in 1 foot of water. I needed two fish with 5 minutes to go and I pulled into a spot and pitched a jig in one foot of water and pulled up two 16 inchers to fill out my 5 fish limit. So, there are fish to be had in this wind. Even in the calm areas, this wind will turn them on. Thereís enough wind today, so it should be a good bite. The big thing is some of the spots you wonít even get to, so you just have to go to other spots and do the best you can.
Kevin Merrill of Pierre, SD and Co, Bryan Bayerkohler of Eagan, MN: Boy! It feels really good, JulsĒ. I mean, Iíve been in this for ten years, off and on. I canít do it every year, because of my job and stuff, but I try to do it every other year and do the full circuit. This is my first top ten, so Iím excited to make that. Like I told you the other day, Iím kind of by myself. I know a couple guys, but itís not like I have the team support, so itís a little more difficult for me to come in and compete against some of these guys. I canít cover as much water, etc., but itís a challenge and itís fun.
I always like going to new lakes and learning the water and itís always a new experience.
Juls: What do you think of this fabulous weather here this morning?
Kevin: (Laughs) It will make it a little more challenging, probably not as challenging as the guys out of the main lake though. Weíre fishing over in Kabecona Bay. Terry Filkens and Brian Brosdahl are in there with me, and itís probably going to be a little breezier back in there. Itís fairly protected. We had that northeast wind in there yesterday, and it wasnít bad for boat control in there at all. I might have to employ a driftsock or two to slow us down, because you do want to move pretty slowly.
Juls: What are you doing to catch your fish? Are you rigging too?
Kevin: Yep, weíre rigging with Red Tail Chubs. Iíve been using bottom bouncersÖkind of the ďDakotaĒ style. Up here they use a lot of slip sinkers/Lindy rigs and I tried that too, to see if that would make a difference, and I donít know, I think Iíve caught more on the bottom bouncers. It didnít work yesterday as you could tell (Laughs), but weíll just keep changing things a little bitÖusing Red Tail Chubs, Creek Chubs, and bigger Rainbow Minnows for bait.
Don Loch of Iron Mountain, MI and Co, Kyle Schuchard of Essex, ON: It feels great as usual. Itís neat to be standing with some of these guys that Iíve read so much about throughout the years. Guys like, Meleen and ďBroĒ and those guys, theyíve been fantastic this year, and Pat, all these guys have been fantastic. Itís so neat to be able to stand there with these guys and compete on the same level as them in the situation that Iím in. So, yeah, itís exciting! I didnít expect to make it. Both of my co anglers and me worked hard the last two days. We worked our butts off in this wind weíve had. We were in a wide open area in the main lake, and we got thrown around and we caught fish. We just didnít get the big ones, but we got one big one.
Iím looking forward to today. Weíve got a lot of wind, but Iíve got a couple areas that possibly might work out. We only need 4 fish, one big one and three little ones. I look at it like this. I can possibly move up four positions if they have a mediocre day and I have a great day between today and tomorrow, so Iím looking forward to it.
Juls: The weather is pretty rough this morning. Are you looking forward to that? How is that going to affect your spot?
Don: I just talked to my co angler and explained to him that whatever I told him last night to forget all about it, because weíre not going to be able to get out there. Yesterday was brutal enough getting out there and back and today is going to be twice or three times as bad as it was yesterday. Iím not going to beat myself up, him, or my boat. Iíve already lost two of my motors this week. Both my kicker motor and my trolling motor are broken off. Iím not going to break anything else, so weíre going to go sit up on some deep holes a little bit out of the wind, and I think we can pick a fish up a few fish.
Juls: How are you planning on controlling the boat if your kicker and trolling motor are out of the picture today?
Don: Well, (he sighs deeply and laughs) I let me rephrase thatÖI do have a back up electric motor for that. Iím trying to learn how to use. I had a Terrova, which locks into place with the new I-Pilotís anchoring ability, and this one is a foot pedal and itís loose, so with these waves itís going to be constantly turning left and right, and Iíll have to work to stay on my spots. But, Iím getting used to it. Weíll use that, and I can use my main motor to back troll a little bit, and hopefully, not swamp it in these waves. But, one way or another Iím going to stay on some of these breaklines, on the edges, and like I say, ďWeíll make it workĒ.
Juls: What are you doing to catch your fish?
Don: We are rigging. We started off jigging this week, and I was even using bobbers in a couple spots, and that particular spot turned off and it was only a big fish spot. I donít know what happened to them. We went to jigging and we caught a lot jigging. Yesterday, the locals put a clinic on for us and showed me how to do it and obviously Iím not a quick learner, because I couldnít figure it out. (Laughs) So, we went to rigging, and I put a clinic on for the locals. The last 40 minutes of the day we pulled in a 24 Ĺ, a 25, two 18 Ĺís, a large Northern, and we upgraded two of our small fish in that spot in 40 minutes. So, we found a spot, but again, itís in the wind, directly in the wind, and itís just not going to work for today.
Juls: What has been your live bait of choice?
Don: Ah, Actually, we ran out of Red Tails down here in Walker, and up there in Beno where Iím staying. Iím having a hard time finding them, so I went to Creek Chubs and found it doesnít make a difference. The little bit larger ones about 7 to 8 inches seems to work pretty well. Iím using a real small hook and 6 pound test line. Iím letting the bait work and swim down there, and be as natural as possible, and that seems to work pretty well.
The weigh in held today and Saturday will be at the Northern Lights Casino parking lot located at 6800 Y Frontage Road NW in Walker starting at 4 p.m central time.
Join us this afternoon on Walleye Centralís Live Leader Board as we bring you continued coverage of the FLW Walleye Tour Championship from Walker, MN. To find the tournament results, please go to www.liveleaderboard.com and click on the ďLeech LakeĒ link associated with the current FLW event listed there.
Beginning this afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. FLW Outdoors is holding the ďFamily Fun ZoneĒ at the Northern Lights Casino. Itís open to the public and FREE to attend. There you can find the National Guard obstacle course and rock climbing wall, a Ranger Boat simulator, where you can feel what itís like to drive one of the best boats on the market today, and chat with several of the Pros who will be in attendance if they didnít make the top ten cut this weekend. Itís an opportunity to pick their brains or just grab an autograph.
For more information on fishing or attending an FLW Walleye Tour event please visit their site at www.flwoutdoors.com.