Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Mississippi River - Major League Fishing

Pundits’ Picks Walleye: Mississippi River

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FLW Outdoors presents Pundits' Picks
Red Wing, Minn., to host stop No. 2 on 2009 FLW Walleye Tour
May 1, 2009 • Brett Carlson • Uncategorized

Lake Erie proved to be a fickle animal at stop No. 1 on the 2009 FLW Walleye Tour. After a cancellation on day one, the lake slowly began to stabilize. The warmer and clearer the water got, the more the bite improved. Veteran pro Pat Byle got some Lake Erie revenge and took home a long overdue first victory. Overall, the pickings were slim. Erie never showed her true colors as only one 40-pound stringer was recorded. Much of the same can be said on the pundit side of the equation.

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.

In his pundit debut, FLWOutdoors.com reporter Vince Meyer was throttled 564 to 458 by veteran Pro Division pundit Rick LaCourse. LaCourse’s 564 was the highest score registered by any of the six pundits. The 1997 PWT Championship winner only had one pick in the top 10, but was steady all the way around. Sharon Reynolds had third-place pro Rick Franklin in her picks but the rest of her roster stunk worse than a pound of dead leeches. She fell to second-year pundit Jason Kerr 499 to 336. Lastly, the Staff Division did manage one victory, as I out-dueled Eric Olson 431 to 383. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win and I’ll gladly take it. But one tournament does not a season make. Just ask any veteran, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

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. Enjoy.

Brett Carlson

Tournament site

Up next is a visit with an old friend – the mighty Mississippi. Pools 3, 4 and 5 of the river have been a BP pro Jason Pzekurat has been pitching to walleyes in the shallows for many years.frequent host to the FLW Walleye Tour. In 2006, Jeff Ryan put on an impressive live-bait rigging display in the Vermillion River. The following year BP pro Jason Przekurat won his first tour-level event with a four-day weight of 89 pounds, 15 ounces. Przekurat not only surpassed Ryan’s total, he also set the Tour’s margin-of-victory record, winning the tournament by an astonishing 20 pounds, 13 ounces. All of his fish came from a small area in Pool 4 called Katrina. Both Katrina and the Vermillion River are little honeyholes, two of approximately 20 areas where the big females traditionally stage after spawning. The trick is deciphering which of these areas will be holding fish based on the current conditions. In addition to fishing post-spawn locales with live-bait rigs such as bottom bouncers and three ways, many anglers will troll crankbaits with leadcore in an effort to cover water. Others will jig shorelines with plastics or probe the deeper water for saugers in Lake Pepin. Overall, the fish should be aggressive – having completed the annual reproduction cycle and in search for an easy meal.

Walmart FLW Walleye Tour stop No. 2

Mississippi River, Red Wing, Minn.

May 6-9

Sharon Reynolds
Tournament administrator
FLW Outdoors

Record: 0-1
Points: 336

The lovely Sharon Reynolds
Eric "Butter Boy" Olson Eric Olson
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Red Wing, Minn.

Record: 0-1
Points: 383

1) NICK JOHNSONNick always has great success on this body of water. His record speaks for itself. He finished second in 2007 with us and he won the final PWT event here last year. When I found out that he was entering the tournament it was a no brainer to include him in my picks.
2) RICK FRANKLINComing off a third-place finish at Lake Erie, Rick is looking strong. I picked him at Erie and I am going with him for this event too. In 2007, he took eighth at Red Wing and I expect him to be in the top 10 again this year.
3) STEVE VANDEMARKBy taking eighth in 2006, Steve has proven that he knows this water. Like Rick, he is coming off a top-10 finish at Erie. Momentum is important in fishing, which means I am looking for a repeat top 10.
4) SCOTT ALLARScott is due; he had a rough opener on Erie, but I know Scott and he has something to prove this week. The river is practically in his backyard and he can make the necessary changes when needed. Look for the Berkley pro in the finals on Saturday.
5) CHRIS GILMANChris is my final pick. Why? Because he is one of best walleye fishermen out there and I believe he is due for a win. It is just a matter of time. Plus, he did well the last time we visited Red Wing – taking third.
1) PETE HARSHA favorite on any body of water, Pete has an innate ability to find fish and stay on them. Conditions look to be stable, as is Pete’s decision making and demeaner. Look for Mr. Tiller, the 2007 Angler of the Year, to be among the stage dwellers on day four.
2) RICK FRANKLINRick quietly goes about his work finding fish no matter the venue. Versatility is key on the Big Muddy and Rick has ample tricks in his bag and both the talent and experience to use them. Make no mistake, he is looking for a win, not just another top 10.
3) TODD RILEYTodd knows how to find those fat saugers, a key to being consistent on this body of water. Using plain hard work, Todd gets it done and is not afraid to take chances. Look for solid sauger-laden baskets everyday.
4) SCOTT FAIRBAIRNScott is a river rat that really does live on the river. In practice, he might occasionally sneak around in a camo boat to avoid drawing attention to some special spots. No stranger to the top 10, Scott can find the fish and move with them should conditions change.
5) CHRIS GILMANFocused and driven, Chris is another angler with almost a sixth sense about fish and their habits. Good at reading a changing bite, his decision making is what makes him excel. He knows when to run and gun and when to sit tight.
Vince Meyer
Staff Reporter

Record: 0-1
Points: 458

Vince Meyer
Jason Kerr Jason Kerr
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Holly, Mich.

Record: 1-0
Points: 499

1) KEVIN MCQUOIDSomething unexpected will happen at this tournament, such as a large-lake specialist like Kevin McQuoid winning. But it really wouldn’t be a shock if McQuoid, who learned to fish on Mille Lacs, won on Pool 4. He finished third here in 2006 and later that same year took fourth on Lake Oahe, which, like Pool 4, is a lake within a river.
2) PETE HARSHHere’s another large-lake specialist who’s had success fishing rivers. Harsh won PWT events on Pool 4 in 1999 and on the St. Mary’s River in 2001. In two previous FLW events on Pool 4 he cashed a check both times. Look for Harsh to come out swinging.
3) TONY RENNERRenner has qualified for the championship in each of the past three years. The first two FLW tournaments he ever fished were on Pool 4 in 2003 and 2004. That tells me he’s confident here. I think Renner is poised for a strong showing this year.
4) PERRY GOODWhen I looked at the Lake Erie roster and saw Perry Good was back with FLW my immediate reaction was to include him in my picks. But then I figured he would need time to scrape off the rust of a six-year absence. Turns out he needed two days. Perry can pick apart a river with the best of them.
5) PAT BROOKSHAWHenceforth I’ll pick at least one angler to come from nowhere and win his first tournament, since that happens often enough on the FLW circuit. This time it’s Pat Brookshaw, who lives in nearby Hager City, Wis., and knows his way around Pool 4 just fine.
1) ROSS GROTHEComing off a good championship and a good opener on Erie, Ross is a hot stick right now. He is a consistent fisherman no matter what type of water you put him on. It also helps that the tournament venue is only an hour away from his home in Northfield, Minn.
2) TODD RILEYTodd is a grizzled veteran. You can never count this guy out. The Mississippi might not technically be home water, but he fishes it like it is. If not for engine problems on day one of last year, he would have been right in the thick of things near the top of the leaderboard.
3) NICK JOHNSONNick Johnson is Mr. Mississippi River. That pretty much says it all. He won an FLW championship downstream in the Quad Cities and last year he won the PWT event held in Hudson. Plus, his last two FLW finishes on Pools 3, 4 and 5 were second and fifth.
4) SCOTT FAIRBAIRNScott does not allow the hometown jitters to get the best of him. The Hager City, Wis., pro has been one of the best anglers on tour over the past four years. The last time we visited Red Wing he finished sixth. That was no fluke – he will put quality fish in the boat every day.
5) PERRY GOODI was there when Perry brought the Lake Erie looking basket to the stage at the 2003 PWT event in Bay City, Wis. Perry caught all those fish in less than 6 feet of water. That was a commanding win that I will never forget. I do not see any reason why it couldn’t happen again on the FLW side.
Brett Carlson

Record: 1-0
Points: 431

Yours truly, Brett Carlson
Rick "Bigfoot" Lacourse Rick LaCourse
FLW Walleye Tour pro
Port Clinton, Ohio

Record: 1-0
Points: 564

1) CHRIS GILMANGilman finished third the last time the Walleye Tour visited the Mississippi near Red Wing. The Chisago City, Minn., native has won several times on the PWT, but never on the Walleye Tour. He’s one of the best in the business and I’m going to keep picking him until he lets me down. It’s only a matter of time until he finally seals the deal on the FLW side.
2) TODD RILEYRiley is purely a points play. I’m confident he’ll head to the lake and catch a solid 12-pound limit each day. It might not be enough for a top 10, but I’d be very surprised if he didn’t take home a check. While everyone else is running and gunning for the scarce female walleyes, the Amery, Wis., pro will be gradually upgrading with Pepin saugers.
3) SCOTT ALLARAllar had a tough Erie tournament, but that wasn’t a huge surprise. He’s a river rat, not a Great Lakes fisherman. If he struggles this week in Red Wing I’ll be shocked. With leadcore in his reels and cranks tied on, the Berkley pro will once again be in the top 10. Like Gilman, he’s long overdue.
4) SCOTT FAIRBAIRNA threat on any body of water, Fairbairn lives right on the river in Hager City, Wis. Like Allar and Gilman, he’s an amazing walleye fisherman who has never won on the Walleye Tour. His best skill is perhaps jigging with plastics, which works well in Red Wing.
5) CHUCK DUBEDube is a stud on the river and he’s got a knack for finding big fish. I am guessing that the rest of my fellow pundits will overlook him in favor of some bigger names. Dube isn’t fishing this event for points – he’s here to top 10 at a minimum. You’ve got to take chances in the pundit world – Dube is my sleeper.
1) CHRIS GILMANLooking at his past performances he has proven he has the ability to adapt to the changing moods of the spring walleyes and saugers. Expect to see him run the full gauntlet of presentations at this event. He made the cut in 2007 on the Mississippi River and is due to repeat that feat again this year.
2) SCOTT FAIRBAIRNScott is a local favorite who often is not afflicted by the home-water curse. Expect to see him in the top 10 on the last day too. Scott has a fisheries background and knows the waters of the Big Muddy well. There are no secrets that he does not already know and there is nowhere for these fish to hide from him.
3) NICK JOHNSONJohnson is another local favorite. He has won several events on the Mississippi River, including a $300,000 win at the FLW Walleye Tour Championship in 2004. Expect to see Nick running and gunning from spot to spot throwing jigs and crankbaits. He is also right at home tossing a wad of nightcrawlers in front of a wing dam.
4) SCOTT ALLARThe Berkley pro will most likely be trolling leadcore with stickbaits on shallow flats and on the current breaks in the channel of the river. He is at home in Pool 3, but is also adept at fishing any pool on the river he grew up on. Scott always seems to be near the top when it comes to fishing tournaments on the mighty Mississippi River.
5) DON MARXI had to pick him because my wife said so. Julie said that Don is going to be the dark horse of this event and could very easily win it all. He has done very well on the river systems and has a positive attitude. Mainly a League angler, Don works alone and will give the regular touring pros a run for their money.