Gilman Wins Land’O Lakes Angler of the Year Award
Jul 21st, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jul 21st, 2009 at 12:00 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (July 20, 2009) – Completing an incredible 2009 season, Chisago City, Minn., native Chris Gilman won the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year award on the Walmart FLW Walleye Tour with 554 points over four qualifying events.
Those points also qualified Gilman for the no-entry-fee Walmart FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River in Bismarck, N.D. He was followed by pro Pat Byle of Colgate, Wis., with 543 points; pro Brian Bjorkman of Fargo, N.D., with 519 points; Chevy pro Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis., with 519 points; and 27-year-old pro Joe Okada of Fitchburg, Wis., with 514 points.
Gilman, who finished second in the FLW Walleye Tour AOY race in 2007 and third last year, is a three-time Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) winner and the 1997 PWT Angler of the Year. If not for a counting error (accidentally keeping six fish, limit is five), which penalized him his day-one weight at last year’s season opener, he would have won back-to-back AOY titles. In his FLW Outdoors career, Gilman has accumulated 11 top-10 finishes and over $200,000. After finishing 32nd at the first qualifier of 2009 on Lake Erie, Gilman finished in the top-10 in each of the remaining three events. In those last three tournaments alone, the Ranger-Evinrude pro won over $20,000. He will have a chance for an even bigger payday in Bismarck as the No. 1-seeded angler at the Walleye Tour Championship, which boasts a top award of more than $100,000 in the Pro Division.
“I can’t tell you how satisfying this is,” said Gilman, who took fifth at the 2008 Walleye Tour Championship in Bismarck. “In 2007, I had two top-10 finishes, one 12th-place (finish) and a 13th-place. To not win it that year with 572 points was tragic. And last year I made that simple mistake at Erie that cost me. I’ve been knocking at the door so many times. The things you work hardest at in life are the things you appreciate the most.”
Gilman didn’t believe he had a legitimate shot at winning AOY coming into the final event of the year on Lake Winnebago. Ahead of him in the standings were two excellent fishermen in Ted Takasaki and Byle. On day one, Gilman had only two fish in the boat at 1:30 p.m.
“I just told myself that I can’t give up yet. The wind was ripping from the south, but I knew had to get to the north side of the lake. I just didn’t give up – I forced myself to fish in those terrible conditions, and I caught my limit. Everything just fell into place after that.”
Justin Steinke of Birnamwood, Wis., won the 2009 Co-Angler of the Year title with a total of 514 points out of a possible 600. Steinke placed 55th at Lake Erie to start off the season and then 17th at the second stop on the Mississippi River. At Leech Lake Steinke took fifth and he ended the season with a 13th-place finish on Lake Winnebago.
Coverage of Gilman’s AOY win on Lake Winnebago will be broadcast Sept. 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. ET in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water.
The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title is determined by the total accumulated points from four regular-season events. One hundred fifty points are awarded for a win, 149 for second, 148 for third, and so on.
“This is the pinnacle of walleye fishing,” added Gilman. “Anyone can have one good week and win a tournament, but the Angler of Year has to catch them on Great Lakes, rivers, natural lakes and reservoirs. This is the highest achievement a walleye angler can attain; I am humbled and proud to win, not just for myself, but for my sponsors too.”
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