Harsh Leads FLW Walleye Tour on Devils Lake
Jun 8th, 2006 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jun 8th, 2006 at 12:00 AM
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (June 7, 2006) – Pro Pete Harsh of Sauk Centre, Minn., along with his co-angler partner, Jim Fretzik of Pengilly, Minn., caught five walleyes weighing 29 pounds, 5 ounces to lead day one of the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour event on North Dakota’s Devils Lake, the third event of the 2006 FLW Walleye Tour season. A full field of 150 pros are competing for a first-place award equaling as much as $100,000 cash. Most pros consider Devils Lake the world’s most unique walleye fishery. The lake’s walleye population is incredible. Many anglers are catching 50 or more fish per day, with most fish being 16 to 21 inches in length. Pro Jerry Hein of Stillwater, Minn., for example, a former Devils Lake tour winner who is in 14th place, caught 90 fish between 10 a.m. and noon. The lake also holds plenty of high-quality fish exceeding 24 inches, and several are necessary each day if an angler hopes to make the top-10 cut after day three. During early summer, numerous techniques are effective. The lake is obviously known for its slip-bobber fishing in standing timber and crankbait casting along grass lines, but some anglers are also trolling offshore structure. Harsh, who is using live bait and leading by more than 6 pounds, has caught huge limits on Devils Lake in previous pro events, but he has never put together a consistent event to make a run at the top spot. “I just had the right bites at the right times today,” he said. “Our first fish was 4 pounds, and our second fish was 9 pounds. It took 10 minutes to get the big fish in the boat because he got wrapped up in trees several times. I only caught seven good fish today and a few little ones, but I’m in a place where you get quality bites. Fishing where I am is a patience game, and it’s easy to be patient when you have a 4- and 9-pounder in the boat. And I don’t have many boats around me.” Pro Paul Meleen of Isle, Minn., and co-angler Jason Svir of Cando, N.D., are in second place with five walleyes weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounces. “I have four good spots, and I only fished one today,” Meleen said. “My goal was to fish two spots today and two tomorrow, but I didn’t have to move today. I’ll go back tomorrow and keep fishing that spot until it is depleted.” Like Harsh, Meleen is fishing around trees and getting quality fish with fewer bites each day. Pro Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis., and co-angler Jack Ellenbecker of Pierre, S.D., are in third with five walleyes weighing 22 pounds, 9 ounces. “I casted crankbaits most of the day,” Keenan said. “But late in the day I decided to go to the trees and try to get a big fish, and we caught a 25-incher in 4 minutes.” Pro Shannon Kehl of Menoken, N.D., and co-angler Joshua Northagen of Grand Forks, N.D., caught five walleyes weighing 22 pounds, 8 ounces to finish day one in fourth place, and pro Ken Schoenecker of West Bend, Wis., and co-angler James Murphy of Fayetteville, Ark., are in fifth place with five walleyes weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. Devils Lake State Park on Grahams Island will host daily takeoffs each morning at 7. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday s weigh-ins will also be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located in Devils Lake, beginning at 4 p.m. The community is invited to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public. Pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day and fish for a combined boat weight. Pros compete against other pros, and co-anglers compete against other co-anglers. The full field competes during the three-day opening round for one of 10 final-round slots based on their three-day accumulated weight. Weights carry over to day four, with the winner determined by the heaviest four-day weight. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, with 150 points awarded to the winner, 149 to second, 148 for third, and so on. These points determine angler standings. The top 50 pros and 50 co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the 2006 FLW Walleye Tour Championship. The FLW Walleye Tour Championship is the most lucrative event in professional walleye angling, with guaranteed cash awards for the entire field. A guaranteed cash award of $100,000 plus potential sponsor bonuses totaling $50,000 will go to the FLW Walleye Tour Championship winner for a total pro award of $150,000. The champion co-angler will win a guaranteed cash award of $11,000 plus potential sponsor bonuses totaling $11,000 for a total co-angler award of $22,000. Coverage of the FLW Walleye Tour opener on Devils Lake will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on July 30 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network. Following the Devils Lake tournament, the FLW Walleye Tour will visit Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis., July 12-15 for the season s final regular-season event. Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Stratos Owners’ Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. Wal-Mart and many of America s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.