UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Honeymoon continues for Klemm

Honeymoon continues for Klemm
Kelly Klemm hoists the Pro Division trophy over his head before the weigh-in crowd at the FLW Walleye Tour event in Pierre, S.D.

PIERRE, S.D. - When the sun finally shone down on the final day of the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Sharpe, it not only brought welcome warmth to the chilled weigh-in crowd - it heralded the arrival of a new champion. Moments after the rays pierced the cloud cover, they illuminated the winner's trophy raised high over 23-year-old Kelly Klemm's head.

As the years flow by, Klemm - who works in his hometown of Wheaton, Minn., as a farm and seed dealer when he's not on the walleye trail - will surely look back on the spring of 2008 as one of the brightest periods of his life. Klemm married his wife, Erin, on April 5, and the honeymoon has resumed a month later with the first FLW Walleye Tour presented by Berkley win of his career. And the $80,000 winner's check he collected Saturday in Pierre will no doubt serve the newlyweds well.

But make no mistake about it - Klemm's Lake Sharpe win was no fairytale. Like the rest of the field competing on the Missouri River system in central South Dakota over the course of this four-day event, Pro Kelly Klemm of Wheaton, Minn., was awareded $80,000 for his FLW Walleye Tour win on Lake Sharpe in Pierre, S.D. he worked hard in often brutal conditions for every bit of his 35-pound, 7-ounce total weight.

After day one's beautiful weather, the remainder of the tournament was plagued by rain or wind or unseasonably cold temperatures - and frequently a combination of those elements - with the final day being the most challenging of all. But before the winds kicked up to 30 mph and the sleet whipped across Lake Sharpe, Klemm made use of the early hours Saturday.

"It started out good; the wind was down for us," he said. "We went about 12 miles downstream and fished some sand flats, live-bait rigging. We caught a 16-incher right away."

With a keeper in the livewell by 7 a.m., the third-year pro and co-angler Darrell Rosemore, also his partner from day two, gave the pattern another fishless hour before switching methods. They pulled crankbaits on leadcore line back upstream to the bay formed by LaFramboise Island and a causeway linking it to the capital city, but the walleyes they caught weren't keepers. Eventually they revisited the same place across from Downs Marina where they found the magic bite Thursday, which set the stage for Klemm to lead the final three days.

"We went back to my weed patch where we caught the 29 1/2-incher ... I was pitching and dragging jigs and minnows," he said, which resulted in the second keeper walleye of the day - a 17-incher - at Kelly Klemm had a four-day total of 20 walleyes weighing 35-7 to net him his first pro win on the FLW Walleye Tour.about 9 a.m.

An hour and a half later, Klemm - who had primarily fished about 45 miles downstream earlier in the tournament - said he wasn't satisfied with the production of the weed patch, so they moved north and began fishing the west side on Lake Sharpe.

"We were vertical jigging in about 12 1/2 feet of water when we found a little hole, and we popped our last three there - 16(-inchers) and 17s," he said. "The pressure was off, or at least somewhat."

The duo ended their day "real close to takeoff," back at the weed patch "trying for upgrades" that never materialized, Klemm said. But the 6-11 limit, the third-heaviest weighed on Saturday, was enough to firmly place him in the winner's circle with 2-2 to spare.

"It's everybody's goal to do this," said Klemm, as he was still reeling from his first tour-level win. "It hasn't set in yet."

The headiness of the win was enhanced by the many loved ones that came to Pierre to support Klemm at the final weigh-in, including his new bride: "It's been overwhelming. I've got a whole bleacher section out here, and I just want to thank them all for coming."

Walleye pro Ted Takasaki of East Gull Lake, Minn., placed second at Lake Sharpe with 20 walleyes over four days weighing 33 pounds, 5 ounces and worth $17,674.Takasaki takes second

Despite climbing four places, veteran walleye pro Ted Takasaki of East Gull Lake, Minn., just missed the mark in FLW Walleye Tour competition for the second time Saturday. A runner-up at the 2006 Green Bay event, he finished second again today with a four-day total of 33 pounds, 5 ounces worth $17,674.

"Today was just a day of survival," he said, detailing his harrowing 55-mile run downstream to his primary spot near North Bend.

Takasaki pulled bottom bouncers with a Lindy No-Snagg slip sinker in 16 to 20 feet of water for the majority of his fish this week, including the heaviest limit of the day Saturday that weighed 7-14.

"We hit a 17-incher off the bat and an 18 1/2 a little later," he said, adding that he and local co-angler Terry Etzkorn still didn't have a solid sack by the time they needed to start the long run back to Pierre. "We hit a 20(-incher) and an 18 on the very last pass we made - then it was a four-hour ride back."

Despite the foggy run down in the morning and the bruising ride back, Takasaki complimented Lake Sharpe for its plentiful walleyes and smallmouth bass: "This is a tremendous fishery."

Pro Scott Fairbairn of Hager City, Wis., placed third in the Walleye Tour event on Lake Sharpe.Fairbairn cranks his way to third

Pro Scott Fairbairn of Hager City, Wis., used consistency this week to steadily climb his way into the top 10, but he changed things up Saturday and still managed to improve two slots for a third-place finish and $23,837 payday, including boat and engine bonuses.

Fairbairn used bottom bouncers fished downstream at West Bend to collect 8-pound-plus limits over the first three days of the tournament; today he fished closer to Pierre as he didn't want to risk missing the check-in time because of the strong north winds. He wound up with a 7-3 limit, the second-heaviest of the day, for a total weight of 32-13.

"I decided I was going to go to my best spot furthest upriver, so I decided to go and fish the bank that the wind was going to blow into," he said. "And then my co-angler (Edward Piekutowski) caught two tossing cranks, and I said, `I want to get me some of that.'"

After leaving the trolling behind to cast Rapala Shad Raps toward the bank, Fairbairn landed a couple more weigh-worthy walleyes before going back to his mainstay.

"My bottom bouncers kind of let me down today," he said. "But I finally caught my fifth fish on a bottom bouncer."

Pro Troy Walwood of Grand Haven, Mich., placed fourth at Lake Sharpe.Walwood works way to fourth

Troy Walwood of Grand Haven, Mich., worked his way through 15 to 20 walleyes under the legal catch length to scratch out a solid final-day limit weighing 6-7. His four-day total of 31-9 helped him climb four places on the final day to wind up in fourth, earning $13,954 for his efforts.

"We pulled all our fish using leadcore and No. 4 and No. 5 Shad Raps," he said. "We fished between Antelope Creek and a big flat up by Farm Island."

Walwood, who had fished farther downstream prior to today, said he caught his first keeper at about 10 a.m.: "We got one about every hour until the end of the day. In fact, we caught our last keeper with about five minutes to go."

The second-year Walleye Tour pro said co-angler Jim Feller's boat-handling skills were key to their success in today's conditions: "I had a heck of a partner; he kept the boat pointed into the waves all day long ... while we were trolling out there"

Gilman grabs fifth

Eighth-year FLW Walleye Tour pro Chris Gilman of Chisago City, Minn., racked up his seventh top-10 finish this week on Lake Sharpe, ending the event in fifth place and $10,070 wealthier. His 6-4 limit Saturday gave him a total weight of 31-5.

Veteran walleye pro Chris Gilman placed fifth in Pierre.Gilman, who fished with co-angler Justin Crawford, said sturdier boats and engines helped make it possible for him to make his run today despite the weather - a move that helped him climb four places on the final day.

"I fished a tournament here a long time ago, where I made the long run and got winded out," he said. "The run today wasn't all that bad, because of the wind direction and better equipment, I think."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers in the FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Sharpe:

6th: Ron Seelhoff of Burlington, Colo., total weight of 31 pounds, $6,186
7th: Kevin Larkins of Greenwood, Neb., 30-2, $6,802
8th: Bill Shimota of Lonsdale, Minn., 29-2, $7,419
9th: Scott Banks of Cannon Falls, Minn., 29-1, $5,034
10th: Gerrick McComsey of Fort Pierre, S.D., 28-1, $6,093

The next Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour presented by Berkley event will take place June 11-14 on Cass Lake in Minnesota.

Tags: patrick-baker  headline-story  2008-05-07-lake-sharpe 

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