PWT Mercury Championship is a Wrap!
Sep 23rd, 2005 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 23rd, 2005 at 12:00 AM
The In Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Mercury Championship is a wrap!Milford Lake in Junction City, Kansas was the water selected for the event. Milford is a reservoir sporting incredible populations of white bass, wipers, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, and walleyes. Research on the lake shows that local tournament anglers routinely bring weights of as much as 20 pounds to the scale in one day of fishing, so quality and decent numbers are there. The PWT chose to limit the Pros to 4 fish per day, 1 under the state limit of 5 over 18 inches.The Pros arrived for prefishing to a series of fronts and very warm temperatures. Many spoke during WalleyeFIRST interviews of the tough bite, but also of contacting good fish and confidence that there would be some good fish caught. Evinrude/Crestliner Pro Scott Fairbairn spoke of low current flow, low dissolved oxygen, and water temps in the upper 70 range as reasons the bite was slow; conditions brought on by the extended summer weather and dry conditions this September in US heartland. The PWT Military appreciation day pairing just returned from action soldiers with a Pro out on the water, and the time spent with the kids in the area were top topics of conversation amongst the Pros.Daryl Christensen, Tracker/Mercury Pro and jigging expert, spoke of finding fish along the shallow breaks casting crankbaits parallel along the shoreline. Leave it to Daryl to find a pattern off the beaten path! Rookie of the Year Tracker/Mercury Rookie Pro Chase Parsons was applying lead core and cranks working the deeper breaklines and moving fast. So were Crestliner Pro Terry Wilson and Warrior Boats Pro Dave Andersen.Day one dawned extremely foggy and cool, with promise of very light winds and warm temperatures as the skies cleared mid morning. Charlie Moore, PWT tournament director, held the field at the launch until about 9:30 AM until things cleared enough that the fog was no longer a threat to safe running on Milford Lake. Many of the Pros looked nervously out onto the fog covered water and spoke of the only bite they had going; early morning. Terry Wilson and Mike Gofron accepted the delay without much concern, relaxing in the front of their rigs speaking quietly to other Pros and the Observers assigned to their rigs.As a Civil War Cannon blast broke the silence on Milford Lake and the PWT opening ceremonies came to a close, a large number of the boats headed to a breakline about 2 1/2 miles long almost directly across the system from the launch to set up a trolling run along the breaks and humps on that very sharply breaking shelf out to mid 30 foot depths. A couple boats headed north, and several went off to hit water they had located walleyes near in practice. Gary Parsons spoke of the water being pretty dirty on the North end as a reason most anglers did not head that way, he felt the water was clouded enough that the fish there would not go. As the clock closed off Day One, Scott Fairbairn had put a limit in the net, and brought 11.26 pounds across the custom built stage in the huge facility erected onsite for the Weigh In and PWT Championship Sport Show. Dave Andersen was second with 9.76 and Chase Parsons third with 9.17. Chase worked the screaming crowd of about 1500 into frenzy as he picked each fish out of the well capping off the show with the big walleye of the day. This young Pro bears watching, he is a showman and a gentleman, and could easily be the next Professional Walleye Angling Media favorite. Chase spoke of his competition with his uncle, Tracker Pro Keith Kavajecz, and the fact that he out fished his Dad, well known Pro Gary Parsons. After a 2 hour 15 minute weigh in, the WalleyeFIRST Leader board showed the top three less than on legal fish apart, but Scott Fairbairn in solid possession of the lead.Bill St Peter closed off the second day top 5 with 8.94. Jeff Taege, in striking distance after day one, pulled a 6.20 pound basket out of his new Yar Craft, setting the stage for day two.Day Two was clear and warm, with promised winds reaching 20 mph and higher. The local morning paper’s headlines spoke of the fog and the tough bite, the crows and the pageantry, and the fact this Championship was any one of the Pros to win after day one.The weigh in was noisy as trucks driven by volunteers drove the Pro and his rig into the arena one at a time as the Pros tossed shirts, hats, candy, key chains, Frisbees, and other items to the kids and grown-up kids in the crowd. Music roared out of twin speaker columns and a light show lit up the 15′ giant projection screen onstage. At the close of the Day Two weigh in, the field had reversed. Scott Fairbairn had an empty basket, as did Chase Parsons. Dave Andersen was consistent, putting 6.79 pounds on the scale. Terry Wilson brought up 2.38 pounds, putting him in striking distance of the top two at the end of the day. Bill St Peter had a respectable 4.23, only a bit out of the lead with a two day total of 13.170 VS Dave Andersen with 16.55 pounds. Tommy Skarlis was also within striking distance of the top three with 9.25 pounds. One of the most interesting moments of the weigh in occurred as the Tommy Skarlis Ranger stopped at the stage. He had focused on a little girl in the front row surrounded by other kids who had aggressively acquired numerous hats and other items the Pros were tossing into the crowd. This young lady had nothing yet as she shyly looked up at Tommy in his huge Ranger, so Tommy reached into his boat, took out a rod and reel combo, and handed it to that little girl. There is a great shot of that little lady proudly holding her prize fishing outfit in the WalleyeFIRST PWT album.The final day dawned clear and breezy, with a promise of big winds and temps near 90 degrees. The sharp breakline area described earlier was where the top ten Pros had been working, so traffic there was anticipated to be heavy. Some of the Pros spoke of hitting some B spots early, and it turned out many avoided that area completely on day three allowing the top anglers going into the final day room to work. Early contacts with Terry Wilson indicated he had a couple in the well, and was catching short fish regularly. Chase Parsons was trolling that area, but he moved out to another location so we were unable to keep tabs on his progress. When I left the water at lunchtime to file a report and get the morning pictures up on WalleyeFIRST, Warrior Boat Pro Dave Andersen had zero fish!As the arena filled up just before the weigh in and afternoon temperatures climbed well into the upper 80 to low 90 degree range anticipation by spectators and family members was high as rumors of big fish caught, a sudden and remarkable flurry of net activity in Dave Andersens rig, and rumors of a big fish in Chase Parson Tracker Tundra rig came in. Word was Terry Wilson had a limit, and Bill St Peter had caught a lot of fish, but none had been the required 18 inches. Tommy Kemos and Todd Riley were steadily holding their own through days one and two, and both were rumored to have fish in the livewell.As fans, family members and kids lined up in the arena to watch the weigh in and accept a free rod and reel for the first 1000 children, the heat was pushed around in the arena by a couple huge air circulating fans. The first 35 boats weighed in quickly, as the PWT had added a few tow vehicles to the mix including the Glorvigen sharp Mercury detailed trucks. As the final few anglers weighed in, it was clear Terry Wilson had done very well, but probably did not have a shot at the title if Dave Andersen had his rumored limit. Chase Parsons, obviously shaken and a bit nervous, approached the stage in his Tracker Tundra and pulled a legal from the well. The house rocked as he then pulled another out, this one a big fish that vaulted him past Terry Wilson and his 15.01 pounds. Chase Parson held his weight at 18.77, just a couple pounds ahead of Dave Andersen. Terry Wilson congratulated Chase and left the stage, as the Rookie of the Year stood by to see what Dave Andersen had in his livewell. Dave Andersen rolled into the arena in his Warrior Tiller as the music pounded and the crowd cheered. Chase watched as Dave reached in to his livewell, pulling one, then two, the then three fish out, handing off the basket to a volunteer to take to the weigh master behind the stage as the volume level in the arena reached a roar. The weigh master hit the button and the scales told the story; Dave Andersen had come up with three fish in just a few minutes during the afternoon of the final day, holding off Rookie Pro Chase Parson and his big fish weights to take home the winning prizes worth nearly $117000 and reign for the 2006 season as the 2005 PWT Champion.