Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Bays de Noc - Major League Fishing

Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Bays de Noc

Final qualifier to take place in Michigan’s U.P.
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FLW Outdoors presents Pundits' Picks
July 18, 2008 • MLF • Uncategorized

Just as the FLW Walleye Tour completed its third leg of the season on Cass Lake, so did Pundits’ Picks Walleye – a recurring pretournament column featuring the most competitive collection of walleye prognosticators in the land. In northern Minnesota, the Pro Division held their own – a surprising outcome considering two Staff Division pundits were raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Unlike the actual Walleye Tour, Pundits’ Picks Walleye finished up its regular season on Cass Lake. The high score of the tournament went to Pro Division pundit Jason Kerr. Despite tallying 645 points, the second-highest of any pundit, I suffered a humiliating defeat in my home state. Kerr’s 668 points were too much to overcome. Not only did he pick the winner, Scott Steil, he also picked the winner’s practice partner, Tony Renner, a crafty move for a rookie pundit. Rounding out his picks was a steady diet of veterans including Scott Fairbairn, Chris Gilman and Mark Christianson. Despite having three anglers in the top 10, (Steil, Gilman, Riley) I watched my Cinderella season come to an end at the hands of a Detroit Tigers fan.

Outside of Kerr, the main news item from Cass was Sharon Reynolds and her incredible bounce-back season. After defeating Rick LaCourse 628 to 430, Reynolds is the only undefeated pundit at 3-0. Pro Eric Olson also got in on the action with a hard-fought 621 to 608 victory over Staff Division pundit and fellow Minnesota native Mark Dorn. That means the only winless pundit from the regular season is LaCourse. That also means that Reynolds, the No. 1-ranked Staff Division pundit, has a rematch scheduled against LaCourse, the third Pro Division pundit, on Bays de Noc. Kerr, the No. 1-ranked Pro pundit, will face Dorn, the third Staff pundit. Lastly, Olson and I will butt heads as the No. 2-ranked pundits in our respective divisions. The winners of these match-ups will advance to the final round in Bismarck, where the pundit with the highest point total takes the coveted title.

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

The final qualifying event on the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour schedule takes us north and east to Competition commences as boats blast their way through rough water.the open-water trolling country of Lake Michigan’s Bays de Noc. These two bays are chock full with walleyes, but a strict slot limit will keep weights down across the board. Anglers may keep any number of walleyes over 15 inches up to the five-fish limit, but only one over 23 inches. As pros and co-anglers work together as a team, each boat can have two walleyes over 23 inches. Last year the bite was surprisingly difficult as pro Steve Vande Mark won with a four-day total of 76 pounds, 3 ounces. That might not sound tough, but Vande Mark won by an 18-pound margin. After three days, it took only 37 pounds to make the top-10 cutoff. When the 2008 Walleye Tour schedule was announced, it was assumed by all that the bite on Bays de Noc would be considerably better this season with the event being held two weeks later. As it gets later in the year, the bigger fish move into the inner bays and most of the baitfish move out. On the other hand, the Midwest experienced an unseasonably wet and cold and spring – which pushed the fishery back approximately two weeks. So what kind of bite are we going to get in Escanaba? At this point it’s unclear. What is clear is that once again getting two “overs” each day will be critical.

Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour stop No. 4

Bays de Noc, Escanaba, Mich.

July 23-26

Sharon Reynolds
Tournament administrator
FLW Outdoors

Record: 3-0
Points: 1566

The lovely Sharon Reynolds
Rick LaCourse
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Port Clinton, Ohio

Record: 0-3
Points: 1324

1) DAN STIER.I am staying with Dan. He has been a strong contender this year. I can see from previous tournaments on this body of water that he knows how to fish it. I feel that this will be both a top-10 tournament finish for Dan and a great overall year for him too.
2) TODD RILEY.I am going to pick Todd for this tournament. He has shown me that this is his type of water and he likes it. He has had several top-10 finishes, including one last year, on this water and from where I am sitting, I think he will have another.
3) TOM KEMOS.Kemos is a great angler and he can definitely fish this water. His previous tournaments on this fishery speak very well of him. I may add that Tom knows what to do and where to go. That being said, he needs to be in my picks – because he will be in the top 10.
4) CHRIS GILMAN.Chris is on a roll and I have to pick him for this tournament. I have been watching Chris over the past few years and I feel very strongly that this could be his week. He knows these bays just as well as the rest of the guys.
5) MARK COURTS.This is my first time picking Mark for Pundits’ Picks. However, after looking over his tournament history, I found a lot out. This is one of Mark’s favorite lakes and he has done very well here over the years. I really think you will see Mark in that top 10 on Saturday.
1) GLENN CHENIER.Chenier is a local favorite who is no stranger to winning on the Michigan waters of Bays de Noc. Look for the 2006 Walleye League Finals champion to make another top 10 on his home lake.
2) TOM GATZKE.The 2006 PWT Regional Angler of the Year has done extremely well on Michigan waters and it would be no surprise to me to see him have another great finish.
3) CHRIS GILMAN.Chris is having an excellent year, even with a slight setback at the first event of the season on Lake Erie. Despite that mishap, he’s still making a run at the Angler of the Year title, so look for a strong finish from this Minnesotan.
4) JOHN SCHNEIDER.John usually does very well on the waters of Green Bay and Bays de Noc, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to see him make another top 10 here. In 2006, he finished second to Chenier at the Walleye League Finals on Bays de Noc.
5) LARRY SMITH.Larry is a guide on the waters of Green Bay and Winnebago and is comfortable with the trolling patterns it will take to win this event. He is also sitting in the top 10 of the year-long standings and has a good chance at the Angler of the Year title, so this is going to be a great shootout.
Brett Carlson

Record: 2-1
Points: 1719

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

Record: 1-2
Points: 1449

1) TOM GATZKE.A newcomer to the Walleye Tour, Gatzke is on the bubble for the year-end championship. He’s talented, he’s hungry, he’s a troller and Bays de Noc is more or less his home water. Those ingredients add up to a successful tournament – maybe even a victory.
2) CHRIS GILMAN.Had it not been for a mental error on day three of the Lake Erie event, Gilman would be coasting towards AOY. Even with that setback, he still has an outside chance. For those who don’t believe in amazing comebacks, just take a look at bass pro David Dudley, who won AOY despite being in fifth place, 86 points off the lead heading into the tour’s final qualifier.
3) TOM KEENAN.The Chevy pro is simply one of the best in the game – especially on an open-water trolling bite. He grew up on this body of water and I believe his parents still live in the area. Although he finished sixth here last year, he wasn’t happy about his performance. On this fishery, Keenan plays to win.
4) TOM KEMOS.Like Gatzke, Kemos is new to FLW Outdoors competition. But that doesn’t mean he can’t put walleyes in the boat. In 2007, Kemos won the MWC event on Green Bay. Like Keenan, Kemos top-10d on Bays de Noc last year. This season, instead of cherry-picking a single tournament, Kemos is in line for a championship berth. That year-end event is held on the Missouri River in Bismarck – the same venue where Kemos claimed the 2006 PWT Championship.
5) JOHN SCHNEIDER.For the most part, I’ve stayed away from the local anglers. Like the others I picked, Schneider has experience on this fishery but isn’t a true local. The Shawano, Wis., native loves big water and big water loves him. At the 2006 Walleye League Finals on Bays de Noc, Schneider took second to Glenn Chenier.
1) TOM KEENAN.Bays de Noc is home for this veteran angler and although home is not always a good thing it might help here as water temperatures and conditions are well behind what is considered normal. While everyone else is scratching their heads, the Chevy pro will be quietly following the baitfish.
2) CHRIS GILMAN.Chris is firing on all cylinders right now. Knowing how tough a competitor he is, I’m guessing he will have two game plans – one for solid limits and one for swinging for the fence. A good showing and some faltering from the leaders may net Chris that Angler of the Year title that eluded him last year.
3) JOHN SCHNEIDER.If there’s a man to beat, John is definitely him. He knows this water inside and out. After a tough finish here on the Tour last year he rebounded nicely with a PWT win. Once again, John will be fishing for the win and anything less than a top 10 would be a lost opportunity.
4) TOM KEMOS.Tom knows the big-fish locations and will bank on them to fill the box. A veteran angler, Kemos understands the importance of wind and water temperature. After an MWC win in 2006 and a top-10 on the Walleye Tour last year, I am prediciting Kemos will once again find a podium position on day four.
5) STEVE VANDEMARK.Coming off a $100,000 win here last year, I expect Steve to be looking to win again. And for him to make the championship, he just might need to win so swinging for the fence is definitely in his best interests. Confidence is key on this fishery where trolling is king and patience is truly a virtue. Steve has both and will prove it when he bags another top 10 from the Big Bay.
Mark Dorn
Director of Operations
FLW Outdoors

Record: 1-2
Points: 1589

Mr. Operations, Mark Dorn
Jason Kerr Jason Kerr
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Holly, Mich.

Record: 2-1
Points: 1690

1) DAVID KOLB.When it comes to Great Lakes competitions, Kolb is always in the hunt. The minor details are always the key to the winning pattern on the Bays and the Prilosec pro is one of the best at solving the puzzle.
2) GLENN CHENIER.Chenier is a local favorite who has been dominant on this water for years. His years of tournament experience will suit him well in this event. Glenn will have the inside track to the winning bite.
3) TOM KEENAN.No one has been more consistent year-in and year-out than the Chevy pro. Keenan has always done well on this body of water, especially in the mid-summer time period. He will be there at the close – count on it.
4) PATRICK NEU.Pat notched his first major win at Green Bay a couple of years back and he has been a force to reckon with in walleye tournaments since. He should be there Friday when the top-10 cut is made.
5) DEAN ARNOLDUSSEN.Dean has made a career out of big-water competitions, logging a record $400,000 payday on Green Bay back in 2001 at the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. He is due for another top finish and has all the tools to deliver on this fishery.
1) NATHAN SEIFERLEIN.A fellow Michigan angler, I have fished against Nate for years. He is a good guy and a great fisherman. He has been very strong in Escanaba since the first time he fished it. Nate is a phenomonal troller and if he remembers to come in on time he will be at Wal-Mart on Saturday.
2) GLENN CHENIER.I am going with another Michigan guy even though he is from the U.P. We are all coming to play in Glenn’s backyard. He may have some secrets the rest of us don’t know about.
3) TOM KEMOS.Tom is new to the FLW Walleye Tour this year but he is not new to Bays de Noc. Look for the 2006 PWT Championship winner to be on fish through Saturday.
4) TOM KEENAN.No surprise here. The guy is super consistent and we are coming to his old playground. Tom knows all the productive spots and will not leave his boards out unless he is catching fish.
5) TODD RILEY.I was able to beat Brett Carlson with my Cass Lakes picks, even with him choosing Riley. Todd is a tried and true professional angler. I am pretty confident he has another top 10 left in him for these northern Michigan waters.