Fishing & Boating News

Keenan Tames Erie Monsters, Takes Home Treasure

Humminbird®/Minn Kota® pro Tom Keenan wins NWT tournament season opener on Lake Erie

by: Traditions Media,

Photo by Traditions Media
Photo by Traditions Media
(May 1, 2016 - Racine, WI)  The story of this past weekend’s NWT tournament on Lake Erie reads straight out of Greek mythology: man finds and defeats watery giants, man takes home treasure.

That man is Hatley, Wisconsin’s Tom Keenan, a seasoned walleye angler whose career includes four major tournament wins, numerous Top 10 finishes, three AOY titles, and two Team of the Year finishes. This most recent win graduates Keenan to the $1 million in winnings club, a major accomplishment in professional walleye fishing.
Keenan says it came at a good time, ending five-year doldrums between wins. Even better that his comeback should happen on Lake Erie, considered by many anglers the top trophy walleye fishery in the world. Indeed, where else is it possible to net over 45 pounds for five walleyes each tournament day?  
Seriously, if not Greek mythology, the story is the stuff of walleye dreams. On Day 1 Keenan’s top five walleyes weighed a massive 45.83 pounds. On Day 2, Keenan brought another 45.63 pounds to the scales. In terms of presentation tactics, Keenan says he trolled Husky Jerks and Reef Runners, constantly fine-tuning running depths as wind and fish feeding behavior changed.
With regards to technology, Keenan credits the seamless integration of Humminbird and Minn Kota technology for helping him find, stay on, and catch the winning walleyes he hoisted to greatness over the weekend. He is a big proponent of the power that Minn Kota i-Pilot Link provides walleye anglers to troll precise paths and speeds—as well, the visual components of Humminbird imaging and LakeMaster cartography technologies.
“One of the big keys was linking my two Humminbird HELIX 10 SI GPS units to my Minn Kota Terrova 112 for precise trolling speed over the course of the event. I-Pilot Link aided me in staying on exact spots and trails the whole time while fighting big Erie walleyes. I was able to fight one while staying on the right track, hoping for multiple hookups. I had three doubles and one triple because of the accuracy of the system. One of the doubles was a pair of nine-plus-pounders on Day 2, which sealed the win, both of which were captured on video,” says Keenan.
40 for 40: Keenan’s “Netting Pocket”
He adds that an overlooked benefit of the handheld i-Pilot remote is as a tool to successfully land fish, critical for winning tournaments. “I had 40 fish on during the tournament and boated every one of them. The key is keeping my i-Pilot remote right next to me at all times. Not around my neck, but on the rod locker. This allows me to turn the boat into the fish, which swings the back of the boat away from the fish and creates what I call a ‘netting pocket.’ If the fish comes into the starboard side, I’ll turn into the starboard side. In big three- to five-foot waves it becomes even more critical. As the fish gets close I’ll also shut off the Terrova for the last 10-15 seconds of the fight so when the walleye first breaks the surface my co-angler can net it. Definitely beats unnecessarily dragging fish around.”
Obviously, a big part of Keenan’s winning system involved finding where the big females were feeding. “The LakeMaster Great Lakes PLUS card was a big deal for everyone using it during the tournament. The detail is unreal. I compared it to standard mapping and with LakeMaster I was able to see a series of bumps in 32- to 38 feet near shallow water that the big females were funneling through. I set my Depth Highlight to show these areas in green and worked 1.5 mile trolling runs from top to bottom. With iPilot Link you can go from waypoint to waypoint, but with my target depths in green, even when I had a fish on, I knew I was still in the zone.”
Keeping it Real: On the Water & Retail
To say that Keenan has an intimate working knowledge of today’s latest fishing electronics would be a gross understatement. Fellow pros will be the first to tell you that Keenan is one of the most technically-minded anglers in walleye fishing today. This experience comes not only from countless hours on the water but longtime employment as a Gander Mountain store manager, which includes teaching customers how to use fishing electronics.
“I’ve been selling marine electronics for 24 years, and the Humminbird Helix is by far the most colorful, brightest and easiest to read unit I’ve ever seen. I can teach someone in the store how to use one in a matter of minutes,” says Keenan.
A friend of Keenan’s for over two decades, Humminbird brand manager Jeff Kolodzinski can attest to Keenan’s enthusiasm and expertise.  
“I’ve known Tom for over 20 years from back in my retail days. He is equally skilled as an angler, competitor, and fishing educator. Tom is around anglers and hunters all day long in his store, so he knows exactly what gear is best to run. This is the kind of guy you want on your team – no matter what team it is. His energy and passion are unequalled on planet Earth and his success in life and on the water reflect that.”
Although excited, Keenan is humble and grateful for his recent good fortune. “It’s just amazing how many people have reached out to congratulate me. Obviously, Humminbird, Minn Kota and LakeMaster have been a huge part of my success over the years, and I really appreciate that support. I’m excited to start the season with a first place finish and look forward to making a run at Angler of the Year!”
About Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc.
Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors  and consists of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird® is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota® is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as offers a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.
Photo by Traditions Media
Photo by Traditions Media