Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Lake Erie - Major League Fishing

Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Lake Erie

Kerr welcomed to the mix as the 2008 season kicks off on Erie
Image for Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Lake Erie
FLW Outdoors presents Pundits' Picks
April 11, 2008 • MLF • Uncategorized

Fishing fans, welcome to the second season of Pundits’ Picks Walleye. We may not boast $7.3 million in cash and prizes for fantasy fishing like the bass boys, but we hearty Midwesterners persevere for the love of the walleye. For those new to the feature, log on to FLWOutdoors.com the Friday before each FLW Walleye Tour event to see who the so-called experts like in the upcoming contest. We can’t promise accuracy, we can’t promise precision, but we can promise a little good-natured pretournament trash talking. The competition will pit pros v. staff throughout the season to see who qualifies for the pundit championship. After three regular-season events, each pundit will be seeded according to their record for the playoff round. Only three pundits advance from the playoff round to the championship, a winner-take-all affair that goes to the person who accumulates the most points.

Last thing, the disclaimer: The picks in this column in no way represent any sort of favoritism on the part of FLW Outdoors staff or its pro anglers. These are merely guesses – only arguably educated – as to who we think might do well at any given tournament. With that in mind, here are the picks.

– Brett Carlson

Tournament site

When the 2008 Walleye Tour schedule was announced, it was assumed by all that the circuit’s season-Pro winner Dustin Kjelden holds up his two biggest walleyes from day four on Lake Erie.opening stop would be an absolute slugfest. Lake Erie, particularly its western basin, is perhaps the best walleye fishery in the world. Mid-April is also primetime for big females in the 9- to 12-pound range. Unfortunately, a wet and cold spring has kept the water dirty and the fish at bay. Initially, most pros assumed it would take nearly 100 pounds after three days to make the top-10 cutoff. Those predictions might need to be adjusted somewhat. The current weather in Port Clinton, Ohio, is absolutely miserable, with high winds and a rain/snow mix. The good news is that stable weather is on the way. The nasty front currently plaguing the area is supposed to leave on Monday afternoon – giving competitors little meaningful practice time. The four-day tournament forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s. Simply put, practice promises to be a completely different animal than the actual tournament. Still, this is Erie, and although Canadian waters are off-limits, plenty of hefty sacks will be brought to the scale by the best walleye fishermen in the world.

Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour stop No. 1

Lake Erie, Port Clinton, Ohio

April 16-19

Brett Carlson

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

Yours truly, Brett Carlson
Eric Olson
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Red Wing, Minn.

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

1) RICK LACOURSE.Bigfoot is still seething over missing his first Walleye Tour Championship. At the final event of the 2007 season on Bays de Noc, LaCourse failed to boat a single keeper over three days. That is nearly unheard of for an angler of his caliber. Knowing Rick, I’m guessing he’s used that memory as motivation as the 2008 season kicks off in his backyard.
2) LARRY LAMBERT.Captain Larry guides on Lake Erie and knows it even better than Bigfoot. The last time the Walleye Tour launched out of Port Clinton, Lambert took ninth place. If the lake’s dirty conditions prevail, Lambert knows how to scratch and claw his way to a 20-pound limit.
3) GREGORY YARBROUGH.Just like Lambert, Yarbrough guides on the lake and lives in the area. He’s not only good at finding fish; he’s in tune with the tactics necessary to make them bite. In 2005, Yarbrough won the Grand National Walleye Cup on Lake Erie. He took 21st at last year’s Walleye Tour Championship out of Cleveland, but I expect a much better finish in Port Clinton.
4) DEAN ARNOLDUSSEN.By his own standards, Dean’s 2007 season was a disaster. Finishing 68th in the points, Dean failed to qualify for the year-end championship. His mind wasn’t right and any pro angler will tell you that this sport is mostly mental. The Appleton, Wis., pro is one of the most talented walleye fishermen in the game, especially on the Great Lakes. I expect the “Duss” to be fishing on Saturday.
5) DUSTIN KJELDEN.Although he’s a South Dakota boy, Kjelden has a knack for doing well on Lake Erie. If you want proof, you don’t have to look too far. The Coppertone pro won the 2007 Walleye Tour Championship on Lake Erie. I doubt he will go back to back, but I expect him to contend once again.
1) JASON PRZEKURAT.I am going to ride the wave with Jason. Why not? Confidence is crucial in a bite that will probably be a scrapper’s tourney. Jason seemingly can do no wrong and that helps when tough decisions need to be made as conditions change. Having finished second here before, look for the 2007 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year to be knocking at the door again.
2) JOHN GILLMAN.John knows Erie and the bite. If the conditions turn to trolling look for John to capitalize. He finished 10th on Erie at last year’s championship. I’m guessing he’ll take the positive elements from that tourney and use it to drive himself to the top 10 again this year. Look for good things from Gillman in 2008.
3) JOE WHITTEN.Dedication, dedication, dedication. This guy puts the time in and has been close here so many times. Whitten is a tremendous troller and can adapt to any condition and scratch out a limit. Look for Joe to be fishing on day four and in contention for that $100,000 first-place purse.
4) GREGORY YARBROUGH.The consummate Erie troller, Greg knows the lake and the patterns having fished many tournaments on this body of water. His finishes speak for themselves and if there is a trolling pattern going somewhere, Greg will find it.
5) TOMMY SKARLIS.Mr. April? Not sure about that, but this is one guy that can scrounge a good limit where there are few to be had. Having won several tournaments on this and related bodies of water, Tommy is a strong contender to be fishing on Saturday. Look for him to be lurking around until late in the tournament and then he’ll make his move.
Mark Dorn
Director of Operations
FLW Outdoors

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

Mr. Operations, Mark Dorn
Rick LaCourse
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Port Clinton, Ohio

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

1) DAVID KOLB.The Prilosec pro is always in the hunt at a big-water competition. With the late ice-out and colder than normal water conditions, Dave should be able to draw on his past experience to do well in this one.
2) GREGORY YARBROUGH.One of two local favorites in my picks, Greg usually has the inside track to the winning bite. His years of tournament experience, especially on Lake Erie, will give him an edge in this event.
3) TOM KEENAN.No one has been more consistent year-in and year-out than the Chevy pro. His in-boat efficiency should serve him well if the expected tough bite continues.
4) JONATHAN SHOEMAKER.The up-and-coming G3 pro will be on a mission in this event. After folding at the 2007 Walleye Tour Championship out of Cleveland, he has something to prove and I believe he’ll be up to the task.
5) DUSTIN KJELDEN.The current champ and Coppertone pro is the hottest walleye angler on the planet. Dustin has all the tools to adapt to whatever conditions Lake Erie serves up. Look for him on Saturday.
1) GREGORY YARBROUGH.With the late spring weather this year I am going to pick the anglers with the most local knowledge. Greg is from Port Clinton and is one of the best open-water fisherman on the circuit. He is no stranger to the winner’s circle and will shine in this one.
2) LARRY LAMBERT.Larry is a veteran pro having fished many years on the Walleye Tour and PWT. The last few years Larry has quit traveling and concentrated on his guide service here on Lake Erie. If anyone is on fish it will be him.
3) JEFF SEYKA.This Milford, Mich., angler calls Lake Erie home. Jeff is an excellent troller and will find the key to opening up the early bite whether it is on cranks or spinners.
4) JIMMY BELL.Jimmy has a record that speaks for itself. He is back fishing the full circuit this year and is consistently near the top of the field when on the big lake. Jimmy can and will be able to adapt to the changes the fish will make on this early bite.
5) RICK LACOURSE.Well here we go, I just had to do it. I hope the home-lake curse does not raise its ugly head to bite me here. I am hoping 35 years of local knowledge can help me find and stay on these fish.
Sharon Reynolds
Tournament administrator
FLW Outdoors

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

The lovely Sharon Reynolds
Jason Kerr Jason Kerr
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Holly, Mich.

Record: 0-0
Points: 0

1) JOE WHITTEN.Joe is due. If anyone knows Lake Erie Joe does. He spends every waking minute on this body of water, especially when it is tournament time. This is his home water and it has disappointed him from time to time. But I believe this will be Joe’s tournament – his shining moment to say I know this water and it is not going to beat me again.
2) GREGORY YARBROUGH.This body of water has been good to Greg before and I believe it can be again at this tournament. Greg really likes this lake because he can make the changes needed during tournament time.
3) DAN PLAUTZ.Dan has had several top-10 finishes on this water. He is a must-pick for me. If anyone knows from experience, never count Dan out. Never.
4) DAN STIER.This Dan is another top-10 finisher. Because he is such a good troller, I have to put him in my top five picks. Look at the standings from other tournaments – they speak for themselves.
5) RICK LACOURSE.There is no way I could not put Rick on my list. This is his home water and he has had numerous top finishes and wins on it. Do I feel that he could win? Yes. Do I feel that he could finish in the top five? Yes. Rick knows the water.
1) BILL ST PETER.Bill can catch walleyes all over the country, but he is exceptional on the Great Lakes. With lots of experience around the Port Clinton area, he will be extremely tough to beat. Start from the top to find his name on the leaderboard.
2) DUSTIN KJELDEN.Dustin has been very consistent and is excellent at finding the right fish. I am quite sure he saved a few big fish from the September championship that now should be full of eggs in April.
3) JOHN GILLMAN.Unfortunately, over the years I have consistently found Gillman’s name above mine on the result sheets of numerous Michigan events. Port Clinton is not much of a boat ride from Michigan waters. I expect John to be right at the top letting off steam from last year’s finale.
4) DAVID KOLB.Hands down this guy catches fish on big water. Nothing else needs to be said. Year after year of fishing the mighty Great Lakes Dave consistently puts big fish in the boat.
5) NATHAN SEIFERLEIN.Nate grew up fishing Saginaw Bay. I think he may have been born on the water. Somehow he can catch fish from a puddle if he needed to. I mean this guy is a natural at finding the right fish. I think he has a built-in radar for locating big walleyes.