(Sep. 24, 2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME, AR.)...
Pro-angler Chris Gilman, of Chisago City, Minn., brought in a three-day total of 55.91 pounds of walleye to win the pro-angler category of the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) Championship event at Devils Lake, N.D. on Sept. 21.
The Cabela’s NWT Championship event delivered unprecedented payout to the field, including over $300,000 in total cash and prizes. Gilman’s first place prize package alone, including bonuses for participating in the Ranger Cup, Evinrude, Angler’s Advantage Cash and Cabela’s Angler Cash contingency programs, was worth over $90,000.
After fishing tournaments for 25 years, Gilman, a former FLW Walleye Championship winner and FLW Walleye Angler of the Year, knows a thing or two about winning big tournaments.
"A lot of sports are a younger man’s game. Fishing is one of those things where experience sometimes pays off," said Gilman. "Not only learning the water over the years, but the longer you’re in the sport, the more friends you make. I had been to Devils Lake several times before, but a good friend, who I met through fishing tournaments, came up with me to pre-fish and was a great help."
Gilman started his final day fishing east Devils Lake, concentrating on a rock hump. After 20 to 30 minutes of catching smaller fish, the angler decided a move was in order. Gilman revved up his Evinrude and headed to a secluded spot in his Ranger boat, leaving the camera boat behind.
"By the time the camera boat showed up, we had two more legals in the box," said Gilman. "My boat and motor gave me the confidence to make long runs during the tournament. The Minn Kota trolling motor was critical to staying on the fish as well."
Once at the new site, the angler began vertical jigging and soon had his limit. The angler offered up his great partners as one of the keys to a successful and enjoyable tournament.
"I was blessed with three great co-anglers," said Gilman. "Once you get going, it’s a team effort. They were a tremendous help."
Jason Converse, of Arlington, S.D., partnered with Gilman for the final day’s action. The two anglers had their limit by 8:30 a.m. and headed back to the event site to wait for the weigh-in. While Converse didn’t have much of a chance to add fish to the bag that morning, he did a great job assisting his partner.
"Chris was on fire," said Converse. "I was so busy trying to get the hooks out of the nets while he continued to fish and control the boat. There were times I had to grab for the backup net because he was catching them so quickly."
After fishing the Redwing event and winning the championship event, Converse plans to put his winnings back into his fishing equipment to gear up for next year’s season.
"After seeing what some of these pros have on their boats, I wouldn’t mind upgrading some of my equipment for next year," said Converse. "With such a helpful and knowledgeable NWT staff, I am going to hit as many of next year’s events as I can."
Second-place pro-angler Joshua Vanderweide made the long trip from Goble, Mich., worth the drive by taking home $55,300 in winnings. The angler jigged hardbaits in the North Pelican Lake area. Danny Plautz Jr. won third place in the pro category and took home $14,000 for his efforts.
Co-anglers Chris Stokich and Bob Luellen won second ($3,730) and third ($1,980) places, respectively.
The Lucas Oil Angler of the Year awards were also handed out at the event. Pro-anglers Robert Blosser and Korey Sprengel initially tied with 757 points each. The tiebreaker went to the angler with the heaviest, one-day catch for the year and due to his 47.54-pound bag caught during the Port Clinton, Ohio, event, pro angler Robert Blosser emerged as the Lucas Oil Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Angler of the Year. On the co-side, Joe Knight secured the title after an impressive and consistent season fishing as a co-angler. Both Blosser and Knight will receive custom Lucas Oil rings and paid entry fees for the 2014 NWT season.
For more details, anglers are encouraged to call 612-424-0708 or check out the new nationalwalleyetour website. From here, site visitors can learn more about the NWT, view the TV schedule and learn more about what’s in store for 2014.