Kuzdzal Nets 40+ to Lead FLW on Lake Erie
Apr 16th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 16th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (April 16, 2008) – Pro Mike Kuzdzal of Cincinnati, Ohio, and co-angler Phillip Verdura of West Bloomfield, Mich., caught five walleyes weighing 41 pounds, 8 ounces to lead day one of the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour season opener presented by Yamaha on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio. The pair now holds a slim 6-ounce lead over their closest rivals in the nationally televised tournament that features 300 competitors from 26 states fishing for top awards of $100,000 in the Pro Division and $20,000 in the Co-angler Division. Several impressive walleyes came to the scales despite the conditions. Anglers faced winds out of the south gusting at 18-23 mph but proved once again that Lake Erie was still one of the best walleye fisheries in the nation. “We were culling 7-pound fish by noon,” Kuzdzal said. “We decided to leave our primary spot around 11:30 a.m. and troll back about 14 miles. It was so windy we decided to have an easy ride back in. It was unbelievable. We even picked up three upgrades on the way back. “Today we caught around 15 fish with nothing less than 5 pounds. We knew we would have a good bag with fish like that.”Kuzdzal and Verdura were trolling a combination of crankbaits and spinnerbaits on Lake Erie.”During practice the size of fish was about the same but I couldn’t get the number of fish,” Kuzdzal added. “This wasn’t even my primary spot after practice. I wanted to see what the water clarity was today and it ended up being clear enough to fish, so we stopped there.”Hopefully, tomorrow the outcome will be the same.You never know what will happen in a tournament with all the factors that come into play.”Rounding out the top five pros and co-anglers are David Frey of Avon Lake, Ohio and Field Olson of Minnetonka, Minn. (five walleyes, 41-02); Kevin Michnicki of Cleveland, Ohio and Bjorn Horgen of Deer River, Minn. (five walleyes, 40-04); Chad Schilling of Akaska, S.D. and Jason Copeland of Wellsville, Kan. (five walleyes, 39-02); and Dan Stier of Clearwater, Minn. and James Woods of Sheffield Lake, Ohio (five walleyes, 38-05).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 winners determined by the heaviest four-day weight.”It was a rough day but it was a good one,” said Verdura, who is fishing in only his second FLW tournament. “It was all about working as a team today. We really had to count on each other because the wind was blowing so hard. “I look forward to fishing with a new partner tomorrow,” Verdura added. “Hopefully, we will be on the same size fish as I was with Mike today.”Nor Easter Club in Port Clinton will host daily takeoffs each morning at 7. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at Water Works Park in Port Clinton beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2826 E. Harbor Road in Port Clinton beginning at 4 p.m. The community is invited to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public.
In addition to cash awards, anglers are competing for valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the $650,000 Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour Championship – the sport’s richest event – in Bismarck, N.D., Sept. 24-27. The top 50 pros and top 50 co-anglers in the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year points standings will advance to the Championship, where they will compete for top awards of $150,000 and $20,000, respectively. Overall there were 479 walleyes weighing 2,658 pounds, 1 ounce caught by 137 boats Wednesday. The catch included 52 five-walleye limits. FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.Awards are based on a full field of 150 boats in every tournament.Big Walleye Video from Day One