Max Wilson Wins Cabela’s National Walleye Championship at Lake of the Woods
Sep 20th, 2018 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 20th, 2018 at 12:00 AM
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (September 11, 2018) – Max Wilson, of Lomira, Wisconsin, weighed a combined total of 45.83 pounds to win the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship on Lake of the Woods, September 6. The angler won a fully rigged Ranger 620FS with a 250-horsepower Evinrude outboard, $15,000 in cash and $2,120 in Anglers Advantage cash for a total of $88,585 in winnings.
When 20-year-old Dylan Nussbaum won the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour event on Devils Lake earlier this year, the walleye fishing industry collectively took notice. At the time, it was inexplicable that someone so inexperienced could outperform the world’s best walleye anglers. Fast forward six weeks and the unthinkable has happened again. This time, 21-year-old Wisconsin angler Max Wilson took his knowledge of deep basin fishing and applied it to Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods.
This was only Wilson’s second full season on the NWT. Prior to that, he fished as a co-angler and dabbled as a pro on other circuits for two years. After a strong season opener on Winnebago, his home waters, he struggled at Saginaw Bay and Devils Lake.
First-place pro-angler Max Wilson (left) and first-place co-angler Scott Mathson (right) display their championship trophies at the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship at Lake of the Woods on September 7.
“I came into this championship with an open mind,” said Wilson. “I really did not expect to do well. I only caught three overs in all my practice and all three came within 15 minutes of each other.”
Wilson had two separate patterns, one for unders and one for overs. In this event, all walleyes between 19 1/2 and 28 inches had to be released. Anglers were allowed to keep one walleye over 28 inches in length per day, hence the term “over.” Likewise, fish less than 19 1/2 inches are known as “unders” or “slots.”
For his overs, Wilson ran to the Knights and Bridges area, located near the Canadian line, just south of the Garden Island complex. There, female walleyes were actively feeding on big tullibees.
“There were smaller fish on the bottom, but I was intentionally fishing above them,” said Wilson. “They would sit just off the sharp, jagged rock structure. In the morning, they would sit up closer to the structure and then slide out into the abyss during the day.”
Each of the first two days, Wilson was without an over with 15 minutes left to fish. Then, he’d turn to his “Hail Mary,” a No. 9 Rapala Tail Dancer painted by Viper Custom Tackle (green UV coated).
“I knew the wildcard in this tournament would be the overs. Each day I was kind of downtrodden and then, boom, it would happen right at the end.”
For his unders, Wilson trolled custom-painted No. 7 Berkley Flicker Shads (purple, chartreuse and pink). Both his crankbaits were fished with leadcore line and trolled at 2.4 to 2.6 mph.
On day one, Wilson caught 14.37 pounds and sat just outside the top 10. On day two, he caught another 12.84 and rose to fifth place. Today, he managed a near-perfect 18.62 pounds, which gave him a cumulative weight of 45.83 pounds.
Brett King wrapped his season with a fifth-place finish at the championship and won the Angler of the Year title. King finished the season with 753 points, three more than fellow Wisconsin pro Tom Kemos.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling; it’s going to take a few days to soak in,” said King, who won the Saginaw Bay event earlier in the year. “I still had to fish into the last hour today to make sure I had this sealed up. That just shows how brutal this competition is, how good these guys are.”
King and Co-Angler of the Year, Terry Hora, earned entry fees into the 2019 NWT tour events and custom NWT rings.
Nick Schertz (second), Robert Blosser (third), Michael Olson (fourth), Brett King (fifth), Drake Herd (sixth), Gary Maher (seventh), Rick Olson (eighth), Jason Przekurat (ninth), and Kevin McQuoid (tenth) round out the top 10 pro-anglers.
The top-10 co-angler finishers are Scott Mathson (first), Glenn Trudeau (second), Aaron Johnson (third), Jeremy Brenner (fourth), John Herd (fifth), Dillon Robinson (sixth), Terry Hora (seventh), Eric Sherrill (eighth), Randall Vandezande (ninth) and Dave Nichols (tenth).
For more details, anglers are encouraged to call 612-424-0708 or check out the website at www.nationalwalleyetour.com. From here, site visitors can learn more about the NWT, view the TV schedule and learn more about what’s in store for 2019.
National Walleye Tour events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Mercury, Minn Kota, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Lowrance, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Powertex Group.