(Oct. 10, 2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME, AR.)...
After the dust settled on the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) Championship event at Devils Lake, N.D., pro-angler Robert Blosser and co-angler J.D. Knight emerged as the Lucas Oil Angler of the Year Award (AOY) winners. Along with custom Lucas Oil AOY rings, both anglers earned paid entry fees for the 2014 NWT season.
Despite not winning a single event, Blosser proved that consistency is key to winning the coveted Angler of the Year title.
"I would rather have an Angler of the Year title over an event win any day," said Blosser. "To say you were the most consistent angler out of this group of fishermen is a great honor. I’m happy to say that was me for 2013."
Blosser took second place at the first event at Red Wing, Minn., putting him one point behind first-place finisher Korey Sprengel. The second NWT event at Port Clinton was cut short due to high waves and winds.
"I wasn’t disappointed in the cancellation of the last day at Port Clinton," said Blosser. "When you’ve fished tournaments on Great Lakes before, you have to plan for that. It’s a real possibility that you are going to have one or two blow days. It’s just a given. "
After taking fourth place at Port Clinton and Sprengel’s placing sixteenth, Blosser took the lead in AOY points. This event would later prove pivotal when determining the Pro-Angler of the Year Award after the championship event.
When the Sturgeon Bay event rolled around, Blosser felt good about his chances to win.
"I live a few hours away from Sturgeon Bay but consider that my home waters," said Blosser. "That’s one of those places that I feel I can be competitive and have a legitimate shot to win each and every time. Anything less than a top ten was going to be a disappointment."
Not only did Blosser finish out of the top 20, Sprengel won his second NWT event of the season.
"I was hugely disappointed," said Blosser. "For Korey to win another one and me to place twenty-second, that was a heartbreaker. Not only did I fair poorly in that event for my standards, I also figured I gave up the Angler of the Year race."
Going into the championship event, Blosser trailed Sprengel by only 10 points.
"Once the points were tallied after Sturgeon Bay, it wasn’t as bad as I thought," said Blosser. "Because we had such high finishes, Korey and I had really separated ourselves from the pack. It was still predominately a two-man race."
With the championship event at Devils Lake on the horizon, Blosser knew he still had a chance to win the AOY title. With business taking him to Boston days before the event, a friend of Blosser drove his truck and boat out to Devils Lake while Blosser flew in just two days before the tournament.
"Going into that event, I only got to pre-fish a couple of days," said Blosser. "I hadn’t been on that lake since 2007 but I located some fish during pre-fishing. I knew they weren’t going to be the tournament winning fish I thought they might give me a shot to make up some ground on Korey if he stubbed his toe."
Blosser placed nineteenth while Sprengel placed twenty-ninth, leaving the two anglers in a tie. With the tiebreaker going to the angler with the heaviest single-day catch, Blosser’s 46.79 pounds at Port Clinton gave him the title.
J.D. Knight, of Farley, Iowa, narrowly beat Tom Wiehoff by eight points for the Angler of the Year title on the co-angler side. Knight attributed his father to one of the key contributors to his success as an angler.
"He gave me the love and passion to fish," said Knight. "My father traveled with me to each event and I appreciated how much support he gave me. I couldn’t have done it without him."
Primarily a river angler, Knight began tournament fishing two years ago. The NWT provided the perfect place to gain big water experience.
"I joined the NWT to learn some of the techniques used on big water," said Knight. "I had never fished Erie, Green Bay or Devils Lake before. I had fished a lot up in Red Wing, so I felt like I helped out in that tournament. I was paired with Pat Byle and we had the biggest fish of the event."
At Port Clinton, Ohio, Knight learned what the big waters had to offer.
"I caught the biggest walleye of my life out there," said Knight. "That was just a thrill. I had never been on a body of water where you could catch eight-pounders like it was ordinary. I learned a lot of specifics like using crawler harnesses, matching depth and speed, and locating schools on big bodies of water. It was a neat learning experience."
With his entry fees paid for 2014, Knight plans to compete in each NWT event next year.
"The NWT folks were great and are very professional," said Knight. "They are very responsive to what the anglers are saying. I’m looking forward to fishing some different waters and hopefully repeat as co-angler of the year in 2014."
For more details, anglers are encouraged to call 612-424-0708 or 501-317-7548 or check out the new nationalwalleyetour website.