DAVENPORT, Iowa – Most of the dock talk this week about what it would take to do well in this tournament led to either catching a limit or bagging an over – a walleye bigger than 27 inches. Today was the day that the fans in the Quad Cities got to see a Mississippi River giant.
After sitting tied with Gary Parsons yesterday, Chevy pro Jason Przekurat went back up to Pool 14 in search of a limit. What he found was a 9-pound, 5-ounce kicker that helped launch him into the lead. With a day-two weight of 15-4 for three fish, his overall total now stands at 20-11. This gives the Stevens Point, Wis., native a 6-1 lead heading into day three.
“It takes a lot of hard work to find fish in these systems,” said the Chevy pro. “You need to pay attention to detail to set yourself apart from these anglers. I grew up fishing the Wisconsin River, so I am pretty comfortable here. A walleye in a river is the same no matter where you go, so I just paid attention to the detail in how to present my baits.
“Once I put the pattern together that these fish were on, it seemed like I could catch them all over the place,” continued Przekurat.
The pattern he found happens to be four different wing dams located in Pool 14. Surprisingly, Przekurat never caught a single over in practice off of these spots. Also surprising is that he has not caught any sauger, only chunky walleyes out of Pool 14.
“I have to work fast and catch them fast. I just need to pull up to the right wing dam at the right time. And, actually, my best wing dam is one that I haven’t caught a fish off yet in the tournament.
“Everything is working out,” continued Przekurat. “I got the lures figured out. I’ve got the depths figured out, and it’s a matter of being there when a pod of fish move up -because then it is easy. I made it through the cut today -which is what worried me – but now I can just go fishing tomorrow.”
Przekurat is a firm believer in not using live bait on rivers – he says it is not necessary. He is sticking to what he likes to do by pitching jigs with artificial bait.
The Chevy pro will carry his hefty lead and confidence into tomorrow with hopes that he will continue to connect with quality fish.
Plautz slips to second
Mercury pro Danny Plautz of Madison, Wis., took an early lead on day one after bringing in the only day-one limit. While he could not duplicate the success from yesterday, Plautz did manage to bring in a three-fish limit that weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces. Plautz now sits with a two-day total weight of 14-10, and has some ground to make up.
“I put two fish in the boat within the first few hours, but then my spot went dry,” said the Mercury pro. “Later in the day, the sun came out and I noticed more bait activity busting around the surface. I caught my third keeper shortly after that.”
Plautz ran back to the same small area in Pool 16 that he fished on day one. He mentioned that his spot sits in around 5 feet of water but has rock spines that top out at 4-feet deep.
The Wisconsin pro continued to pitch baits at the rocks, switching colors to match the light conditions. There seemed to be more current on his spot today along with more bait. When the abundance of bait showed up, Plautz also noticed that they were catching plenty of fish under the minimum length.
“I just need to do the best that I can and fish hard. I’m confident in my spot so I’m going to stick with it.”
Zemke surges to third
With the fishing conditions as tough as they are, catching a limit is what it takes to move up the standings. Today, it was Todd Zemke of Red Wing, Minn., who brought in one of the two limits on day two. His day-two limit of 9 pounds, 4 ounces slides him up the rankings with an overall total of 13-10.
Zemke is no stranger to the Mississippi River, spending most of his time on the stretches located near Red Wing.
“It’s definitely different down here from what I am used to,” said Zemke. “There are more wing dams than I’m used to fishing, but the river is similar enough that I know where to go when the bite gets tough.”
Zemke is focusing his attention to Pool 16, opting for more fishing time to try and bag a limit.
“The area I’m fishing is a pretty big – maybe four acres – but the more time I spend in it the more I can dissect it. I only caught one fish from it in practice, but yesterday with the wind I had no choice but to run there.
“I caught two fish there yesterday and left, but I should have stayed longer,” continued Zemke. “Today I spent more time there and found out where to catch the fish when they turn on. There is a two or three hour window when they really get going.”
The Minnesota pro is using crankbaits rigged in a particular way that he does not want to reveal yet. His spot is anywhere from 18- to 5-feet deep, but most of his fish are coming from around the 12-foot mark.
“Tomorrow I think I can dial the spot in even more. I wanted to bring in five (fish) today, and hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”
Gilman up to fourth
Evinrude pro Chris Gilman knows a thing or two about the pressure of competing for a National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship title. He won that honor back in 2010, and this week is getting in position to make another run at the title.
The pro from Chisago City, Minn., sat in 16th place after day one with 3 pounds, 1 ounce. After a few adjustments, Gilman brought in four fish weighing 6-3 to charge up the leaderboard.
“In a tournament like this, you have to universal,” said Gilman. “I’m constantly switching baits and retying while I’m in the locks.”
Gilman, like many others, is making the haul up to Pool 14. He managed one keeper from there before it was time to start heading back. On his stop in Pool 15 he found another keeper. Once he made it back into Pool 16, Gilman again located two more keepers before it was time to put the boat on the trailer.
“I really think to win you have to go up to Pool 14. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to adapt.”
Stachowski in fifth
Following the trend of fishing Pool 16, is Mercury pro Ed Stachowski of Canton, Mich. His decision to stay close has landed him 3 pounds, 3 ounces on day one and 5-13 on day two. Stachowski’s 9-pound overall weight is enough to carry him in the fifth spot heading to the third day.
Stachowski felt it would be hard to catch enough fish up in Pool 14, so he searched Pool 16. On the first day he ran three different areas up river to catch his couple fish. Today, he made a change to run downstream.
“I noticed there was a little more current today,” said Stachowski. “I ran down to a place that is about 100-yards long and that is where I caught my fish today. I beat it up pretty hard trying to get a limit off it.”
Stachowski is using cranks two different ways. He changes his presentation depending on the current.
For tomorrow, the Mercury pro is hopeful to just get five fish so that he can go hunt for a big bite.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros after day two of the FLW Walleye Championship:
6th: Dan Plautz of Muskego, Wis., 7-6.
7th: Ryan Jirik of Rhinelander, Wis., 7-5.
8th: Ted Takasaki of Sioux Falls, S.D., 7-1.
9th: Mark Courts of Harris, Minn., 6-14.
10th: Kevin McQuoid of Isle, Minn., 6-5.
Lubbert launches to co-angler lead
Stuart Lubbert of Stewart, Minn., in his rookie year as a co-angler on the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour qualified for the championship. He placed 39th in points to punch his ticket to the biggest tournament in walleye fishing. And now, he sits on top of the leaderboard heading into the final day of competition for the co-anglers.
After catching one fish on the first day, Lubbert got paired with Chevy pro Jason Przekurat for day two – and what a day it was. The pair brought in three fish that tipped the scales at 15 pounds, 4 ounces, giving Lubbert a 4-4 lead.
“This was just incredible, I have learned so much this year,” said Lubbert. “I got to experience going through a lock for the first time today. And then I got to watch a pro do what he does best. It is amazing to watch these guys work. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.”
There was a brief panic moment in the boat today when Lubbert missed the 9-pound, 5-ounce walleye with the net on the first attempt.
“When I missed that fish my heart sank, but when it came back up I got her. Let’s just say after that I didn’t miss another fish all day.”
Lubbert is excited to hit the water tomorrow and continue to enjoy his experience at the championship.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers from the FLW Walleye Championship:
2nd: Tom Wiehoff of Pierre, S.D., 12-13.
3rd: Craig Cayemberg of Valders, Wis., 9-4.
4th: Anthony Erdmann of Watertown, Wis., 8-14.
5th: Todd Dankert of Anoka, Minn., 8-9.
6th: Bruce Frevert of Centerville, Iowa, 7-15.
7th: Corey Meyer of Pierre, S.D., 7-6.
8th: Dennis Gullickson of Fergus Falls, Minn., 6-14.
9th: Dale Janota of Gillette, Wyo., 6-11.
10th: Tyrone Larson of Amherst, Wis., 6-11.
Walleye fans take note
The top 20 pro and co-anglers will take off from the Centennial Park Launch located at 315 S. Marquette St. in Davenport, Iowa at 7:30 a.m. Weigh-in will be held at the River Center located at 136 E. 3rd St. in Davenport beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo at the River Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday the first 300 children 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau/Quad Cities Sports Commission. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a $500 Walmart gift card. The gift card giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.