Fishing & Boating News
Dirkman, Carroll Win Cabela's National Walleye Tour Event at Leech Lake, Minnesota
Tournament pays out over $319,000 to competitors
After experiencing a hero-like performance on the opening day and a 18.35-pound stringer, pro-angler Brad Dirkman decided to play it safe on day two. With a steady limit of Leech Lake slot fish, Dirkman's decision to not swing for the fences proved to be the correct decision.
"I stuck with the program," said Dirkman. "I fished for big fish in Walker Bay to start the day today and I only caught one 24-incher. Then I wanted to make sure I got my slot fish."
After running to the Pelican Island area, Dirkman put his first legal fish, an 18-incher, in the box at 10 a.m. His second fish was a 16.50-incher and he decided to keep that too. As it turned out, that would be the smallest of his five keepers, all of which were under the 20-inch restricted size limit.
"At 1:15, we had our slots after hitting a few mid-lake humps and rock bars," Dirkman said.
On the slots, Dirkman used a heavy bottom bouncer, a short snell and a two-hook JB Lures crawler harness, presenting the smaller four-inch bait in approximately 14-to 17-feet of water. Natural colors and hammered blades worked best, as did occasionally increasing his speed.
"I was targeting sharp break lines and I like covering them quick - up and down, up and down," said Dirkman. "It doesn't have to be the deepest water."
He primarily used a Lindy rig with a big 7-inch creek chub, while his partner would rig with a crawler.
"The crawlers were important this week," said Dirkman. "The minnow bite died. Everything was eating crayfish and when that happens, crawlers work best. There's a huge lobster feed out there."
For winning the second qualifier of the season, Dirkman took home a fully rigged Ranger 1880 with a 175HP Evinrude outboard, plus $15,000 cash. He added $2,127 in Angler Advantage payout for a total combined prize package of $63,127.
Tommy Skarlis, of Waukon, Iowa, finished the event in second place with a cumulative total of 25.93 pounds. Amazingly, he achieved that weight despite catching only seven keeper walleyes over the two competition days. On day one, he managed only two fish, but they weighed 13.92 pounds. On the final day he put a 12.01-pound limit in his Ranger livewell - rising from fifth to second in the process.
The former Walker, Minnesota, resident who now lives in Waukon, Iowa, earned $23,628 with boat and motor bonuses.
"I thought that catching fish between 15 and 20 inches in the tournament would be easy and that the overs would be difficult to catch," said Skarlis. "Then we got our two big ones by 10 a.m. the first day. That gave us over six hours to fill the other five holes in the box. I told Karl (Sprengel, his co-angler partner) that we would keep the first three fish over 15 inches. But they never came.
Richie Boggs (third), Kevin McQuoid (fourth), Mark Brumbaugh (fifth), RJ Harwood (sixth), Wayne Vandyke (seventh), Chad Nissen (eighth), Rick Olson(ninth) and Don Loch (tenth) round out the top ten for pro-anglers.
Local Laporte, Minnesota, fisherman Jay Carroll was crowned co-angler champion after catching 10 walleyes over two days weighing 32.12 pounds. This was Carroll's first time ever cashing a check in a tournament and it was a big one at $6,926. His 19.94-pound day-two stringer was the heaviest of the tournament.
"Winning this tournament is phenomenal," said Carroll. "I haven't gotten to travel with the circuit, but whenever they come to town I always get in. It's a great experience; you get to learn a lot. And I guess sometimes you even win. Right now, I'm a little speechless."
Cal Clausen (second), John Hoyer (third), Ben Solin (fourth), Chad Levercom (fifth), Andy Leier (sixth), Kirk Cearlock (seventh), David Walker (eighth), Peter Mart (ninth) and Greg Oppengard (tenth) round out the top ten for co-anglers.
The next stop for the Cabela's National Walleye Tour is set for July 24-25 at Green Bay, Wisconsin. Registrations for the event are already being accepted online and by calling 612-424-0708. 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.
Anglers that have fished all three regular-season events, in addition to the top points leaders, will qualify for the three-day, entry-fee championship. Two fully rigged Ranger boats are guaranteed for the championship event. The first-place finisher in the pro division will take home a new Ranger 619FS Fisherman, plus $15,000 cash for a total prize value of $79,000. In addition, the second-place pro receives a new Ranger 1880 Angler valued at $46,000. Both figures have the opportunity to go even higher with sponsor contingency. Likewise, the winner of the Co-Angler category will take home $6,000 cash, with the opportunity to nearly double with contingency money thanks to NWT sponsors.
2015 NWT scheduled events: July 24-25 - Green Bay (Green Bay, Wis.) Championship - September 17-19 - Devils Lake (Devils Lake, N.D.)
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