PORT CLINTON, Ohio – It was not a question of when a big bag would be weighed in today but, instead, how long would it take? That question was quickly answered by Evinrude pro Richard Zachowski and co-angler Jimmy Cox who brought 42 pounds, 13 ounces to the scales right off the bat. Not only did they take the lead and hold it to finish day one, but Zachowski also weighed in his largest single day catch to date.
The bite for Zachowski was decent this morning while the wind was still blowing. It took him some time to get on the fish but when he did, he poured it on and left the area.
“My morning started out kind rough, so I moved not too far from where I started and boated a 22-incher,” he said. “Then we got a double with one of those fish going 29 inches. By the end of the first pass we had our limit. And on our last pass we pulled in a 31.5-incher right around noon so we packed it up for the day.”
Zachowski was fairly tight-lipped about his presentation, and with good reason. He has only a 1-pound, 8-ounce lead, which is not that much for this walleye heaven.
However, Zachowski seemed confident that he could catch his fish again tomorrow and has already set his game plan.
“I’m just going to head out to my number one spot and sit there all day if I have to,” said Zachowski. “If that doesn’t work, I do have five other spots that I feel confident with.”
His co-angler Jimmy Cox is no stranger this season to besting the field on the first day of competition. Just a few weeks ago at the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour in Red Wing, Minn., Cox also was in first after fishing the first day with Tommy Skarlis.
Call it the luck of the draw, but Cox seems to be just fine with that as he hopes to build on his lead tomorrow.
When Cox was asked what he loves about walleye fishing, all he could do was look down at the scale with a big smile and say, “This is what it’s all about.”
Kolb, Maher close in second
Sitting right on the heels of the leaders are pro David Kolb of Rockford, Mich., and co-angler Philip Maher of Lincoln Park, Mich., who brought in 41 pounds, 5 ounces. They have put themselves in great shape to make the cut to fish on Saturday. As with Zachowski, Kolb also enjoyed a fast and furious morning bite.
“We started catching fish within the first five minutes of pulling up to my spot,” said Kolb. “The fish were definitely bigger than I thought and we began to cull around 8:30 a.m.
“I have a few spots that I work through and the nice thing is that they all have good healthy fish that live on them.”
Kleszyk, Chutes sit in third
The only other team to break the 40-pound mark today was the duo of Ranger pro David Kleszyk of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., and co-angler Mike Chutes of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, who weighed in a 40-pound, 11-ounce sack of walleyes. Like other anglers, Kleszyk made short work of his limit today.
“We had our bag by noon today and only fished one spot the entire day,” said Kleszyk. “I’m going to fish that same spot for two more days because the fish will be there.”
An even more impressive feat from his performance today was that he never lost a single fish. He plans on trying to duplicate his catch tomorrow to make the cut and get a chance to fish for $63,000 on Saturday.
McQuoid, Armstrong grab fourth
“I found pretty consistent fish over the past few days of practice,” said McQuoid. “Today we picked our fish up pretty fast, which gave me confidence to move around and try to upgrade.”
McQuoid found consistent action throughout the course of the day – although he does have some concerns going into tomorrow.
“The tricky part about Lake Erie is that the fish like to move,” he said. “There were more boats showing up in my area, so I just need to hope for the best.”
Yarbrough, Lochotzki hold down fifth
Rounding out the top-five finishers was the team of Greg Yarbrough of Port Clinton, Ohio, and co-angler Aaron Lochotzki of Sandusky, Ohio, with a total weight of 38 pounds, 12 ounces. The local team has shown they have the knowledge to put the big ones in the boat.
“We actually started fairly close and picked up five right away,” said Yarbrough. “Then we just kept moving around to a few spots and upgrading.”
The team did lose one nice fish today that they said could have helped push them over the 40-pound barrier.
Yarbrough is fishing a combination of different spots and structure that he seems confident will continue to produce quality fish for him. On a body of water with fish constantly on the move, some local knowledge could prove to be the ticket to help him make the cut for Saturday.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 teams:
6th: Nathan Seiferlein of Chesterfield, Mich., and co-angler Tom Nevans of Strongsville, Ohio, 38-10.
7th: Wayne Butz of Mosinee, Wis., and co-angler Jim Nightengale of Brook Park, Ohio, 38-02.
7th: Brett King of Claremont, Minn., and co-angler Kevin Yancey of Newport, Mich., 38-02.
9th: Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, Wis., and co-angler Jeff Sass of Waupun, Wis., 37-14.
10th: Alan Szoke of Grosse Ile, Mich., and co-angler Chris Augustyn of Holdrege, Neb., 37-07.
Walleye fans take note
Anglers will take off from the Nor’Easter Club located at 2801 Nor’Easter Cove Road in Port Clinton at 6:30am Friday morning. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Waterworks Park in Port Clinton beginning at 3 p.m.