UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Jeffrey goes deep for Devils Lake lead

Jeffrey goes deep for Devils Lake lead
Dennis Jeffrey and Brad Gilbertson hold up their day-three Devils Lake catch.

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - A brutal cold front reared its ugly head Thursday in the lakes region of North Dakota. With it came promises of a tougher bite due to colder water temperatures. But the front was no match for pro Dennis Jeffrey, who caught 18 pounds, 6 ounces and positioned himself for his first Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour win.

It has been a topsy-turvy week and day three on Devils Lake was no exception. Weights were down overall as the 7- and 8-pound fish were inexplicably absent. As the leaderboard shifted, perennial Walleye Tour stalwarts such as Jason Przekurat and Nick Johnson made their move and qualified of the final round.

Jeffrey stuck with his day-one plan of pitching crankbaits early, then trolling big Reef Runners and finally finishing the day by jigging. Yesterday, Jeffrey was marking a ton of fish on his spot, but only a few bit. Today it was fast and furious but the average size was smaller.

More specifically, Jeffrey starts the day by pitching to shallow banks. That was his No. 1 spot during prefishing, but it produced zero fish Friday. All his walleyes today came by trolling the larger crankbaits in water approximately 16 feet deep.

Pro leaders Dennis Jeffrey and John Renschen chat after Friday"We were throwing back 20-inchers by 10:30 this morning," said the Garrison, N.D., pro. "From there we gradually improved before we finally came in with our eighth fish."

Jeffrey's five walleyes Friday brought his two-day total to 43 pounds, 5 ounces. As he did on day one, the 2004 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year spent the entire day in Pelican Bay.

"There were no real big fish today, just a lot of fat, chunky 20-inchers. I have to give credit to my co-anglers. They both have done a terrific job. We probably caught 35 walleyes on the day and there were probably 15 times where we had doubles."

Tomorrow, Jeffrey will begin his quest for his first Walleye Tour win by making the 20-mile run to Pelican Bay.

"It seemed like all the same-size fish came up to bite today. I think there are some better ones in there for tomorrow."

Renschen changes spots, moves up to second

Mississippi River rat John Renschen had to switch areas, but he was able to manufacture another hefty five-walleye limit. In the process, he moved from fourth place to second place with a tournament creel of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. With one day remaining, Renschen has a total weight of 40 pounds, 11 ounces.

John Renschen and Mike Unger caught five walleyes Friday that weighed 18 pounds, 1 ounce.During Wednesday's competition, the Red Wing, Minn., pro fished slip corks in Black Tiger Bay. Within the first 15 minutes of day one, Renschen had 15 pounds. Today was a different story as he had to retreat to East Bay.

"My day one spot was completely dry," he said. "You pretty much know right away if they are there. Then we decided to fish a sand flat in deeper water that has some grass on it."

Renschen said he's worked this particular area on and off for the past four years. This year it played a crucial role in attaining his first tour level top-10 finish.

"I almost have to go back to Black Tiger tomorrow and give it a few hours. We did have a follow in there this morning that was 5 or 6 pounds."

Mr. Tiller moves up 17 spots to third

Pete Harsh and Dale Bibbler caught five walleyes Friday that weighed 21 pounds, 5 ounces.Devils Lake big stick Pete Harsh made his move Friday with five walleyes that weighed 21 pounds, 5 ounces, bringing his opening-round total to 39 pounds, 14 ounces.

"On the backside of a major storm system the bite is tough," said Harsh. "We got only six bites all day."

Harsh is usually an angler that likes to swing for the fence with big fish in the trees. He finished second with that strategy last year and 11th in 2005. Today, nearly all of his fish were identical-looking 4- and 5-pounders.

"You can't catch the big ones if they're not there. I'm content with the 4- and 5-pounders. There's just a great class of 22- and 23-inchers in this lake."

As is usually the case the veteran pro, Harsh wouldn't go into much detail about how or where he is fishing. All he would say is that he's fishing different spots from year's past and that he's using live bait. Coming off a short practice due to the recent PWT event on Lake Mille Lacs, Harsh claims to be scrambling.

"I think 21 pounds tomorrow is about the best I can do."

Franklin fourth

Pro Rick Franklin and co-angler Henry Juntunen hold up their day-three catch.Rising to fourth place was Bemidji, Minn., native Rick Franklin. After bringing in 17 pounds, 4 ounces on day one, Franklin finagled five walleyes that weighed 22 pounds, 7 ounces on day three. Franklin's opening-round weight registered 39 pounds, 11 ounces.

"I fished new water today, I think seven spots in all," he said. "I got one 22-inch fish where I was yesterday."

Franklin and his co-angler partner caught roughly a dozen walleyes in East Bay. Their primary technique was pitching crankbaits in wind-blown areas.

"Devils Lake is very wind activated. If the wind doesn't blow on their side of the lake, they're not going to bite. These fish can be lazy. They're so well fed they don't have to bite if the bait isn't right in front of them. In practice, we were catching over 100 walleyes a day."

Franklin's only regret thus far for the tournament was keeping three 19-inchers on day one.

Rossell fifth

Joe Rossell and Larry Williams caught the heaviest limit of day three. These five fish weighed 23 pounds, 10 ounces. In fifth place was Joe Rossell of Leonard, Mich., who caught five walleyes that weighed 23 pounds, 10 ounces. His five-fish limit was the heaviest of the day. He rose 46 places with his day-three performance and finished the opening round with 39 pounds, 6 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros who will be fishing on day four on Devils Lake:

6th: Brad Ertel of Hudson, Wis., 38-12
7th: Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., 38-7
8th: Dennis Lantzy of Warren, Mich., 37-5
9th: Rick McLaughlin of Glenrock, Wyo., 36-11
10th: Johnson of Elmwood, Wis., 36-6

Juntunen lengthens lead

Henry Juntunen of Minot, N.D., maintained his lead in the Co-angler Division by catching five walleyes on day three that weighed 22 pounds, 7 ounces. After catching 25 pounds, 4 ounces on day one, his opening-round total was 47 pounds, 11 ounces.

"I think I am a lucky charm for these guys," said Juntunen, who is fishing in his first Walleye Tour event. "We didn't really catch a small fish all day. We probably had our limit by noon. They caught whatever Rick (Franklin) threw at them. It was unreal.

"This is actually my first tournament I have ever competed in. I have fished all my life, just not competitively. I'm just relying on the pros to put me on fish, and they have. I have been learning a lot and this week and it has been a lot of fun."

Tomorrow Juntunen will fish with the pro leader, Jeffrey, and will have nearly an 8-pound lead.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who will fish on day four on Devils Lake:

2nd: Jeff Trana of Devils Lake, N.D., 39-15
3rd: Larry Williams of Fargo, N.D., 39-11
4th: Larry Oleson of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., 38-4
5th: Mike Unger of Norfolk, Neb., 37-9
6th: Philip Zimpel of Plummer, Minn., 37-8
7th: David Hosek of White Bear Lake, Minn., 37-7
8th: Donny Wald of Mandan, N.D., 37-7
9th: Dale Janota of Gillette, Wyo., 37-6
10th: Greg Plautz of Muskego, Wis., 36-15

The final day of FLW Walleye Tour competition on Devils Lake begins as the top 10 pro and co-anglers take off from Spirit Lake Casino and Resort at 7 a.m. Central time Saturday. The final weigh-in will take place at 4 p.m. Central time from the Wal-Mart store located in Devils Lake.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2007-06-06-devils-lake 

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