Ryan, Jandl Lead Wal Mart FLW Walleye Tour on Day One
Sep 28th, 2005 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 28th, 2005 at 12:00 AM
MOLINE, Ill. (Sept. 28, 2005) – Pro Jeff Ryan of Lake View, Iowa, and co-angler Jeff Jandl of Minnesota City, Minn., caught five walleyes weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces to lead 100 competitors representing 18 states and Canada in the $650,000 Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Mississippi River in Moline. “I caught more fish today than I did in practice,” said Ryan, who moved up to the Pro Division this season after fishing as a co-angler in 2004. “A lot of our fish came early, and we were able to cull three times.” Fishing as a co-angler, Ryan finished 12th at last year’s FLW Walleye Tour Championship in Moline. With a $125,000 top award on the line in the lucrative four-day tournament, he was understandably reluctant to divulge too many specifics about his opening day success. However, he did say that wing dams and current played prominently into his pattern. He also indicated that the area he was fishing would replenish. If it doesn’t, he has a backup spot that he did not touch Wednesday. Mild weather and relatively warm waters along this stretch of the Mississippi made the walleye bite somewhat sluggish in the days leading up to the championship. A cold snap followed by rain Wednesday afternoon also made things tough, with an overall catch of 81 walleyes weighing 163 pounds, 7 ounces coming to the scale. All of the fish were weighed in alive and successfully released thanks to a new state-of-the-art water weigh-in system that minimizes potential stress factors on the fish by reducing the need to handle them and maximizing the amount of time they spend in oxygen enriched water. “The water weigh-in is really a great deal,” said Dan Stier of Pierre, S.D., who is tied for second in the Pro Division with Jarrad Fluekiger of Alma, Wis. “It really helps protect the fish, and I’m sure that it’s going to be the way of the future.” Both Stier and Fluekiger caught 10 pounds, 15 ounces. Fluekiger caught four walleyes with co-angler John Hight of Pierre, S.D., however, while Stier landed one of only three five-fish limits with Keith Strauss of Syracuse, Ind. Most of the field split their time between trolling and casting around wing dams. Pools 14 and 16 drew the largest contingents. Rick Olson of Mina, S.D., and co-angler Marty Barski of Crystal Lake, Ill., finished fourth with five walleyes weighing 9 pounds, 1 ounce while Kevin Goligowski of Maplewood, Minn., and Jimmy Cox of Bono, Ark., rounded out the top five with two walleyes weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces. As luck would have it, defending champion and 2005 Angler of the Year Nick Johnson of Elmwood, Wis., and Co-angler of the Year Larry Eaton of Blanchardville, Wis., were paired together for the opening day but came up empty. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources waived its 20-to 27-inch slot limit on walleyes for the tournament so that anglers could showcase the state’s walleye fishery during televised coverage of the championship on Fox Sports Net. As a result, Iowa waters of the Mississippi River are off limits and walleyes and saugers 15 inches and longer are legal to weigh-in. Sunset Park on 18th Ave. in Rock Island will host daily 7 a.m. takeoffs throughout the event. Weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 3930 44th Ave. in Moline beginning at 5 p.m. daily. The community is invited to attend takeoffs and weigh-ins as well as the Family Fun Zone, which opens at 3 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone features interactive games, product samples and activities for the entire family. All activities are absolutely free. 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 will continue competition Thursday for one of 10 final-round slots based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the final round, with the winning pro determined by the heaviest two-day total weight from Friday and Saturday. The co-angler champion will be crowned Friday based on the day’s heaviest catch. Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour and eight other national tournament circuits offering more than $32 million in purses through 230 events in 2006. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com. For more information about the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour Championship hosted by the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about the Quad Cities, go to Visitquadcities.com.