UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Erie day two: Simply sensational

Erie day two: Simply sensational
Pro leader John Swanstrom and co-angler Paul Huckno caught 41 pounds on day two.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - As predicted, the wind calmed, the water warmed and the walleyes bit on day two of the season-opening Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour event. When the fish get aggressive on Lake Erie, things get a little crazy - crazy as in six 40-pound sacks.

Not only did they bite, they moved. Hungry, nomadic walleyes usually lead to flip-flopping on the leaderboard and this event is no exception. Just ask pro Thomas Sibert of Sandusky, Ohio. After catching only a single walleye on day one that weighed 2 pounds, 8 ounces, Sibert caught a five-fish limit on day two that weighed 44 pounds, 13 ounces - the heaviest single-day catch of the tournament thus far. On day one a total of 2,658 pounds of fish were brought to the scale. That was outdone Thursday with a 3,192-pound total catch.

Without question, the walleye fishing is hot right now on Lake Erie. But being consistent is a much tougher task. After two days, the most consistent angler has been Walleye Tour rookie John Swanstrom. On day one Swanstrom caught 34-14 and he followed that up with 41-5 today for a two-day weight of 76 pounds, 3 ounces.

The Superior, Wis., native has only fished Erie twice in his life - both at MWC events last year. But that certainly hasn't negatively impacted him yet.

"There's a morning bite, it dies around midday and then you can scratch and upgrade a few in the afternoon," said the pro leader. "Today was very similar to yesterday. I think we caught 10 fish each day, but we were able to upgrade some fish today."

Swanstrom is trolling both crankbaits and spinners in the mid-to-upper part of the water column. His biggest fish weighed 9 1/2 pounds and his smallest went 7 1/2.

"We're getting them on everything. The cranks have been hot but when they decide to go they decide to go."

In the first Walleye Tour event of his life, Swanstrom is on pace to crush Pat Neu's four-day cumulative weight record.

"I'd rather sneak in from behind than lead. I'm nervous. I think it's easier to come back; I don't care what bite you're on."

Gilman second

After averaging a 12th-place finish during the 2007 Walleye Tour season, pro Chris Gilman took second Pro Chris Gilman and co-angler Glenn Vinton hold up five Lake Erie walleyes.in the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year race to BP pro Jason Przekurat. In terms of total points, Gilman's 2007 campaign was the second-best in the history of the Walleye Tour. Two days into the 2008 season, it appears Gilman didn't take his runner-up finish kindly.

"This kind of makes up for the championship," said the Chisago City, Minn., pro who finished 42nd in Cleveland. "Just to start the year off on the right foot is a blessing. I look at it as though I've survived the first two days of a 12-day season. It's certainly not over because the fish do move."

On day one, Gilman caught a limit weighing 34-5. Today he sacked 40-15 for a total of 10 walleyes weighing 75 pounds, 3 ounces.

"I think we caught eight fish yesterday and over a dozen today. We caught three right away and then it kind of slowed down."

Gilman wouldn't reveal if he is using crankbaits or spinners. He did say that he's purposely trolling through pods of baitfish.

"These fish are scattered throughout the column, maybe more than I've ever seen."

Smith rises to third

Larry Stephen Smith is comfortable on the water. After all, he guides on Green Bay and Winnebago Larry Stephen Smith is in third place with a two-day weight of 72-9.approximately 300 days during the year. It's a profession he's been in for 19 years and that knowledge has benefited him greatly. After opening the tournament with a 34-pound catch, Smith caught 38-9 on day two for 72-9 and third place in the Pro Division.

"This is the No. 1 walleye factory in the world," said the Berlin, Wis., native. "We either had two or three on at one time or it was an hour between bites."

Smith estimates he caught a dozen keepers during each of the two tournament days.

"Yesterday we caught 80 percent of our fish on the cheater lines and today we caught only one."

Smith fished three different spots, presenting crankbaits near the middle of the water column.

"I'm speeding up as it gets warmer. The fish are getting more active. Having good electronics is key. If you're not marking fish, you better get out of there."

Allar fourth

Berkley pro Scott Allar caught only six fish on day two, but they were the right fish. His five best After two days on Lake Erie, Berkley pro Scott Allar is in fourth place.weighed 40 pounds, 1 ounce and moved him all the way up to fourth place with a two-day total of 69-14.

"I'm pulling cranks and I lost four fish, which is weird," said Allar, a noted Mississippi River angler. "These are small pods of fish and when you find them you better catch them. You just keep turning around and going back over them."

The Welch, Minn., native is no stranger to top-10 finishes, but the Great Lakes aren't usually this kind.

"We had a really good practice too. Typically on Erie it has to be 48 degrees before you pull crawler harnesses. The scary thing about crankbaits is that if we get any weather, the crankbait dies and the spinners still go."

Big-fish Brunz fifth

Tom Brunz, a teammate of Allar, caught a five-walleye limit Thursday weighing 31 pounds, 8 ounces. Pro Tom Brunz is at it again on Lake Erie. After two days of competition, heHis total weight sits at 67-7, currently good enough for fifth place in the Pro Division.

"Its getting tougher, yesterday we had nine bites and today we had six," said the Madison Lake, Minn., pro who holds the Walleye Tour record for heaviest single-day catch. "I'm hoping the spot will hold for another day but I'm skeptical. There were 20 other boats in an area less than a square mile."

Brunz is trolling in the middle of the water column at a speed of just under 1 mph.

"It's pretty much put them out and start driving."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros on day two on Lake Erie:

6th: Pete Harsh of Sauk Centre, Minn., two-day total of 67-1
7th: David Frey of Avon Lake, Ohio, 66-2
8th: Dan Stier of Clearwater, Minn., 66-1
9th: Ron Seelhoff of Burlington, Colo., 65-14
10th: Robert Henton of Spartansburg, Pa., 65-13

Copeland gains co-angler lead by sleeping

In the Co-angler Division, Jason Copeland has found an unorthodox way to lead a walleye tournament. Pro Tom Gatzke and co-angler Jason Copeland hold up their fish from day two.Like most co-anglers, he'll assist the pro in getting the baits rigged and placed in the water. But if the trolling action is slow, he then falls asleep. This is not a joke. Both of Copeland's pro partners confirmed he was snoring in their boats.

"If I'm not casting lures its tough to stay awake," said the Wellsville, Kansas, native. "They wake me up when its time to reel."

Copeland, who is fishing his first Walleye Tour event, has had plenty to reel. After catching 39-2 on day one with Chad Schilling, he caught 34 even with Tom Gatzke for a total of 73-2.

"I tell you what, its working so I'll keep doing it."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers on day two on Lake Erie:

2nd: Jeff Sather of Montevideo, Minn., two-day total of 70-3
3rd: Randy Seidl of Appleton, Wis., 68-6
4th: Kenny Henexson of Thornton, Colo., 65-0
5th: Paul Huckno of Union City, Pa., 64-15

Day three of FLW Walleye Tour competition on Lake Erie begins as the field of 150 boats takes off from the Nor'Easter Club at 7 a.m. Eastern time Friday for the final day of the opening round.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2008-04-16-lake-erie 

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