BISMARCK, N.D. – Tony Renner has been fishing the Walmart FLW Walleye for seven years and has been fishing competitively for nearly 15. But he calls today the biggest of his career.
After sacking an improbable 24-pound, 8-ounce stringer yesterday, the Hutchinson, Minn., pro is an enviable position. He is looking down on the other nine finalists with a whopping 8-pound lead.
But anything can happen in professional fishing. At the 2006 Walleye Tour event on Green Bay, Ted Takasaki saw a 13-pound, 10-ounce lead disappear on the final day to Wayne Butz.
But there are different circumstances in Renner’s favor today. Since the co-angler competition concluded yesterday, the pros will be flying solo and that means only two rods and thus two baits in the water. In addition, they can only keep five fish and culling is not allowed.
“Anything over 16 inches goes in the box today,” said Renner. “Without a co-angler, if I can get 12 pounds that would mean someone would have to have 20 pounds to beat me.”
Renner will start on his primary area, located a few miles north of the Hazelton Launch Ramp. But if something is off, he does have a backup spot in mind.
“I do have an area that no one else is fishing. It may not have the big fish, but there are a lot of 17- and 18-inchers. I checked it yesterday and they were still there.”
If he gets a limit, he will be extremely tough to beat.
“Today is absolutely the biggest fishing day of my life. I’ve never really had a tournament with a big-bite day like yesterday. A win would mean so much to me and to everyone that makes the sacrifices – from my kids to my co-workers. I’m ready to get it done.”
The Family Fun Zone opens at noon Saturday. Saturday is also free fishing rod and reel day at the Fun Zone, where the first 200 children 14 and under receive a free fishing rod and reel.
The pro winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four. The first-place purse is $105,000 if the winning pro is contingency qualified.
On the Web
For walleye-fishing fans unable to attend the festivities in person, you can catch all the weigh-in action live at FLWOutdoors.com with FLW Live. Show time starts at 4:30 p.m. Central today.
Sunrise: 7:45 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 41 degrees
Expected high temperature: 51 degrees
Water temperature: 50-54 degrees
Wind: NNE at 8 mph
Maximum humidity: 68 percent
Day’s outlook: partly cloudy