Swanstrom On Top Heading into Lake Erie Finals
Apr 18th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 18th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (April 18, 2008) – Pro John Swanstrom of Superior, Wis., caught five walleyes weighing 45 pounds, 13 ounces Friday to retain the lead in the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour season opener presented by Yamaha on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio, with a three-day total of 15 walleyes weighing a record breaking 122-00. Swanstrom now holds a 18-pound, 2-ounce lead heading into the final day of competition 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. “This is an unbelievable feeling,” said Swanstrom, who is a rookie on the Walleye Tour. “Everything is happening just right. I can’t explain what I am feeling right now.”In just three days of competition Swanstrom’s catch of 122-00 surpassed the largest four-day total weight in an FLW Walleye Tour event that was previously set by Patrick Neu of Forestville, Wis. Neu’s weight of 111-08 was recorded in Green Bay, Wis., in 2005. “The best bites came in the afternoon on our secondary spot. We had our best five fish in the boat in an hour and a half,” Swanstrom added. “Today, I didn’t weigh in a fish that was less than 8 pounds. “The bigger fish are defiantly coming off cranks. We started catching them really good so I didn’t see the need to change tactics.” Swanstrom explained that he has been real consistent with the trolling speed and that it hasn’t played a factor in this tournament. He is fishing half way between Port Clinton and the Canadian border.Rounding out the top 10 pros advancing to the final round are Larry Stephen Smith of Berlin, Wis. (15 walleyes, 103-14); Erik Furseth of East Lansing, Mich. (15 walleyes, 102-07); Chad Schilling of Akaska, S.D. (15 walleyes, 101-09); David Frey of Avon Lake, Ohio (15 walleyes, 101-09); Rick Franklin of Bemidji, Minn. (15 walleyes, 101-02); Kevin Michnicki of Cleveland, Ohio (15 walleyes, 100-00); Robert Henton of Sparatansburg, Pa. (15 walleyes, 99-11); Dan Stier of Clearwater, Minn. (15 walleyes, 98-04) and Pete Harsh of Sauk Centre, Minn. (15 walleyes, 98-02).Jason Copeland of Wellsville, Kan., leads the Co-angler Division with a three-day total of 15 walleyes weighing 111 pounds, 11 ounces. He caught five walleyes weighing 39-02 Wednesday while fishing with Schilling then added another five walleyes weighing 34-00 Thursday while fishing with Tom Gatzke of Merrill, Wis. On Friday he maintained his lead with five walleyes weighing 38-09 while fishing with David Kraft of Bismarck, N.D. “I have slept on the boat each day of the tournament and it has worked,” Copeland said. “When the fish aren’t biting and the fishing is slow, I sleep until I need to help reel. It has got me this far. I don’t see the need in changing anything.”Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers advancing to the final round are John Kopcok of Bellriver, Ontario (15 walleyes, 106-01); Ike Rhodes of Harrogate, Tenn. (15 walleyes, 102-09); Larry Behsman of Elysian, Minn. (15 walleyes, 100-05); Kenny Henexson of Thornton, Colo. (15 walleyes, 99-09); Randy Seidl of Appleton, Wis. (15 walleyes, 96-02); Jeff Sather of Montevideo, Minn. (15 walleyes, 94-10); Bruce Frevert of Centerville, Iowa (15 walleyes, 92-05); Nate Brunz of Madison Lake, Minn. (15 walleyes, 90-09) and Marty Barski of Crystal Lake, Ill. (15 walleyes, 89-04).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.Nor Easter Club in Port Clinton will host takeoff Saturday morning at 6:30. 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. Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card. Coverage of the FLW Walleye Tour stop on Lake Erie will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on June 1 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area. Overall there were 646 walleyes weighing 4,041 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 148 boats Friday. The catch included 106 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.