PWT Pros, Fans Ready for Championship Fun
Oct 4th, 2006 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 4th, 2006 at 12:00 AM
The Mercury Championship returns to Bismarck Oct. 13-15. During past In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Championships in North Dakota, the walleye fans turned out in record numbers. Leading the 51-man field of expert walleye anglers is the Johnsonville Brats Angler of the Year Ron Seelhoff. After a grueling 8-tournament season, Seelhoff accumulated the most points, won the most money, claimed his sixth PWT victory, and brings a previous Bismarck Championship title with him. Michigan pro Bill St. Peter will go out in second position, followed by Bismarck’s Sheldon Meidinger, who comes off his best year ever. Wisconsin’s Tom Gatzke was the Tommy Docks Regional Angler of the Year. The contestants work hard on the Missouri River, and then bring the results into the Bismarck Civic Center each afternoon at 6 p.m. Festivities get underway with local bands, choirs, the Army National Guard, and special entertainment at 5 p.m. The stage show, boat parade, free goodies tossed to the fans, music and lights are fun for fishermen and non-fishermen. “It’s the show that people love,” said Seelhoff. Entry and all seats are free.The field includes 55 past PWT winners, 10 Championship winners, 11 past Angler of the Year title-holders, and could very well be the toughest Championship field in PWT history. Four anglers represent North Dakota, including Meidinger and Shannon Kehl from the Bismarck area, Jim Carroll from Minot, and Tom Backer from Fargo. Wisconsin sends the most pros, 17, to the big match, where the Champion will net more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. All pros win at least $2,000. New in 2006 is a Sport Show with a Festival atmosphere. Youngsters are encouraged to participate in the rock climbing wall, the GAMO air rifle range, the paintball range and the fishing pond (catch fish, win prizes, release fish). Boats and tackle will be displayed and for sale. Entry into the Show is free, and opens at noon all three Championship days. Also new this year is the MDU Youth Day. Pros will visit schools and talk to many students about the outdoors, the fishery, resources, career choices and more. Youngsters will receive 250 Plano tackle boxes on Friday, 250 on Saturday and 1,000 Shakespeare rod & reel combinations on Sunday. They will pick up coupons at the Lure `em for Life booth beginning at 4 p.m. After weigh-ins, they will collect their prizes at the Civic Center North Concourse. The PWT is working closely with the Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, North Dakota Tourism and hundreds of volunteers. The entire event will be broadcast on the Outdoor Channel in December. The PWT series is now airing three times each week, Monday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 4 p.m. and Thursday at 12:30 a.m. central times.