When an angler reaches the top 10 of a championship event, he seldom junks his entire game plan after one bad day. Unfortunately, Tom Keenan‘s bad day happened on the third day of the tournament, and he has only one day left in which to turn it around. “I’m fishing where Tommy (Skarlis) and Ross (Grothe) are, and they’re rigging and doing really well, and I’m trolling and not doing well,” said Keenan, who is in seventh place and more than four pounds behind first-place Skarlis and second-place Grothe. “Tomorrow I’m going to do something totally different. I’m going to put plastics on jigs and vertical jig for the first hour. I caught some really nice ones prefishing that way. I might even rip spoons. I’ve got to do something to get some bites. I won’t win doing what I’m doing now. If it doesn’t work, it’s no big deal. I’ll live to fight another day.”
Nobody at the 2008 Walleye Tour Championship has experienced the ups and downs like Toddy Riley. The Amery, Wis., pro was in 38th place after day one and in second place after day two, the biggest jump any pro has made at this tournament. Now, after three days, he’s in ninth place among 10 anglers, meaning he’s had a bad day, a good day and now another bad day. That can mean only one thing: Riley will have another good day on Saturday, right? “I’d like to think so,” Riley said after Friday’s weigh-in. But Riley didn’t return to where he caught Thursday’s bag of 24 pounds. Why? “I’m hauling a cameraman, the boat isn’t broke in … there are so many variables. I know exactly what my boat is capable of.” Like all other pros in the final round, Riley runs a boat provided by Ranger, but not the Ranger he has used all season. And there’s a difference. “I have a jackplate on mine, a different prop, and today we had a north wind. I knew I couldn’t get back in that wind with the gas I have on board.”
Ron Seelhoff won’t regret the one that got away, but the one he threw away. Seelhoff had the lead after day one with 18 pounds, 8 ounces, but brought just four fish weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce to the scales on day two. Seelhoff could have weighed five fish, but he elected to release an 18-inch sauger he caught early in the day. Had he kept that fish, which almost certainly weighed more than 2 pounds, he would have had a two-day weight of 27-plus pounds and a place in the top 10. He would have been fishing on Friday rather than traveling home to Burlington, Colo.
Walleye fans at Friday’s weigh-in were treated to a surprise appearance by legendary fisherman Al Lindner, founder of In-Fisherman magazine. Nobody has done more to promote walleye fishing than Lindner, who today operates Lindner Media Productions, the company that films all walleye tournaments for FLW Outdoors. “I’ve spent a lot of time fishing the Missouri River,” Lindner told the crowd at the Bismarck Civic Center, “and I can honestly say it’s one of the most outstanding walleye fisheries anywhere in the country.”
8-7 ounces: weight, in pounds and ounces, separating first place from seventh place at the championship heading into the final day.
6: consecutive championships won by pros running Evinrude outboard engines.
4: tournaments won by Tommy Skarlis, the leader heading into the final round.
1: championships won by Ted Takasaki, the leader at the halfway point.
1: championships won by Tom Keenan.
0: championships won by the other eight anglers in the final round.