(05/23/2001 - Garrison, MN)... On Minnesota’s premier walleye lake, Mille Lacs, the weather was the topic. A severe cold front blanketed the area with heavy cloud cover. Rain and cold temperatures (36 degrees this morning) greeted anglers, and offered a good excuse for some contestants in the Lowrance/Evertroll Central Pro-Am.
However, Bruce Samson, Cambridge, MN, one of the top-recognized Mille Lacs experts, leads the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournament. He weighed a 6-fish limit for 19.61 pounds, including a 7.94-pounder. He fished with amateur Dan Graves, Renner, SD. In past PWT Mille Lacs tournaments, Samson, has placed in the top 10 several times. He won the PWT event on Devils Lake in 1999. When not chasing walleyes, Samson is a full-time doctor.
Second place, 16.99 pounds, was registered by pro Bruce Wingen, Thornton, CO, and amateur Gerry Mahowald, Fairbault, MN. Third place anglers are pro Brian Ney, Baudette, MN, and amteur Boyd Strissel, Billings, MT, with 14.12 pounds.
State regulations allow only walleyes from 16 to 20 inches to be harvested. And, if a 28-inch trophy is landed, one may be kept per person. This "big fish" slot has been in effect for several years, and most anglers release even the large walleyes after a photo. Many fish in the 22 to 27 inch range are caught and released regularly.
The primary patterns were rigging with leeches and slip-bobbering. Riggers preferred long leaders, small hooks and precise boat presentation (moving as slowly as possible). Depths in the 13 to 20 foot range proved most productive. Slip-bobbers with tiny jigs and leeches were floated over rocky reefs.
Bass Pro Shops big fish for day one were all seven-pounders. Winning $2,000 with a 7.94-pounder was Samson. Pro Mark Martin, Twin Lake, MI earned $1,200 for his 7.56 pound fish. Amateur Jim Winbauer, Bismarck, ND, earned $1,025 for his 7.33 pound walleye, and Wingen won $950 for a 7.10-pounder.
The second and third day weigh-in festivities start at 3 p.m. at Phil’s Myr Mar Marina, northeast of Garrison. Owner Phil Erickson received the PWT "Key Award" for his significant contributions when the tournament was changed from the flooded Mississippi River less than four weeks ago. Garrison Commercial Club president Rich Bollig accepted the PWT "Host Award" for the community hospitality and support.
Many walleye fans follow the status of their heroes on the PWT live leader board, with instantaneous results on www.professionalwalleyetrail.com. More and more anglers are playing along with the pros by selecting a fantasy PWT "team."
Pro Steve Alverson, Chester, SD, and amateur partner Ron Smith, Hudson, WI, rescued two anglers whose boat had capsized. The pair was in the 54-degree water for about five minutes. Alverson and Smith hauled them quickly to the ramp and their vehicle.
The PWT is part of PRIMEDIA, Inc., America’s leading producer of targeted media headquartered in New York City. PWT sponsors include: Aqua Vu, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley PowerBait, Berkley Trilene, Blue Fox Tackle, Carhartt, Coleman, Cotton Cordell, Daiichi hooks, Dee Zee, Dodge truck, Eagle Claw, Eagle Trailers, Evercel, Flambeau, Guest chargers, IMCO Boat Buckles Lindy Little Joe, Lowrance Electronics, Lund Boats, Mack’s Lure, Marinco, Mercury Outboards, MinnKota, Rapala Lures, Northland Tackle, Oceanwave sunglasses, Pinnacle rods and reels, Plano, RAM, Raytheon Marine, Real Tree, Shimano rods, Storm Lures, T-H Marine, Yamaha all terrain vehicles, Phil’s Myr Mar Marina (218-678-2629) and the Garrison Commercial Club.