UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Klick wins $50,000 and new Lund boat in first Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit event

Klick wins $50,000 and new Lund boat in first Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit event
Operation Walleye host Sonny Reynolds (left) congratulates Pro ^Jim Klick^ of White Bear Lake, MN, after winning first place at the RCL Tour event on Lake Erie.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - Pro angler Jim Klick, 51, of White Bear Lake, MN, landed $50,000 and a Mercury-powered Lund boat Saturday on Lake Erie after weighing in five walleyes that registered 40 pounds, 12 ounces. His partner, co-angler Cecil Newman, 50, of River Rouge, Mich., reeled in $15,000 for the catch in the first tournament of the new $2.9 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit-the world's most lucrative walleye fishing series.

"It doesn't get any better than this," said Klick, whose best tournament showing prior to the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit was a fourth place finish worth $7,500. "This is some kind of first class operation. There are people everywhere, and the parking lot is full of boats. This is cool."

The pair's impressive catch was the result of trolling crankbaits behind planner boards in clear water off Kelly Island, which is located about 12 miles east, northeast of the tournament's starting point at Catawba Island State Park.

"When I was paired with Jim on Wednesday, he told me that if he ever wins one of these (tournaments) he's going to retire," said Newman, whose best tournament showing prior to Saturday was a third place finish worth $1,800. "I told him, `mister, I sure hope to see you retire.' This is fantastic. The RCL is definitely the way to go."

Klick and Newman qualified for the final round of 12 teams in eighth place after landing four walleyes weighing 23 pounds, 3 ounces Friday.

Competition began Wednesday with 154 anglers from 15 states taking off from Catawba Island State Park. After an impressive opening day in which 25 teams weighed in five-walleye limits that tipped the scales to 40 pounds or more, day two of competition was canceled due to high winds. Competition resumed on Friday with only the top 60 anglers in each division left in the hunt. The field was cut again to the top 12 anglers in each division after Friday's weigh-in. Weights were cleared for all anglers on Friday and Saturday.

Pro Ronnie Rhodes finished second and collected $30,000 with five walleyes weighing 37 pounds, 5 ounces. His co-angler, Joe Struna of La Salle, Ill., received $10,000. Pro Sam Anderson of Eagan, Minn., and co-angler Dexter Adams of Lima, Ohio, finished third with four walleyes weighing 34 pounds, 4 ounces. Anderson won $25,000 and Adams collected $7,500.

Rounding out the top five were pro Christ Peters of Kimball, Minn., ($20,000) and co-angler David Gilbert of Decorah, Iowa, ($6,000) with five walleyes weighing 33 pounds, 7 ounces; and pro James Myszkewicz of Burlington, Wis., ($15,000) and co-angler Karl Elsher Sr. of Cortland, N.Y., ($5,000) with five walleyes weighing 33 pounds, 3 ounces.

Run by Operation Walleye and named after retail giant Wal-Mart and boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund, the $2.9 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit features four regular season tournaments each with a $390,750 purse and a championship with a $1.4 million purse. The second tournament will be May 9-12 on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., followed by events on Saginaw Bay in Bay City, Mich., June 13-16 and Devils Lake in Devils Lake, N.D., Sept. 5-8.

After the four regular season tournaments, 200 pros and 200 co-anglers will compete in the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship for a top award of up to $400,000 in the Pro Division and $150,000 in the Co-Angler Division. The championship will be held on the Fox River and Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis., Oct. 2-6. Green Bay hosted the inaugural Wal-Mart RCL Championship last year when Scott Glorvigen of Grand Rapids, Minn., won $300,000 and instantly joined the sport's top all-time money winners.

Entry fees for each regular season tournament are $1,250 for pros and $500 for co-anglers.

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