UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Winning in Steil

Winning in Steil
Pro Scott Steil celebrates after winning the 2008 FLW Walleye Tour event on Cass Lake.

CASS LAKE, Minn. - With a tight leaderboard and a no-cull slot format, everyone knew day four of the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour event on Cass Lake would be dramatic. With $100,000 on the line for first place, anglers time and again faced the excruciating decision of whether or not to keep small "over" walleyes.

According to the rules, tournament anglers were allowed to keep only two fish over 20 inches. Culling wasn't permitted, but anglers were allowed to keep eight in the box and weigh their best five.

With this much at stake, one decision can translate into tens of thousands of dollars. For Scott Steil, the decisions were easy. His two overs measured 27 1/2 and 25 inches. Co-angler Nate Brunz caught the Pro winner Scott Steil holds up two giant Cass Lake walleyes he caught on day four. 27 1/2-incher midmorning.

"We only caught seven fish on the day, but they were the right fish in the right order," Steil said. "That's the key to these slot tournaments."

Steil's five best walleyes Saturday weighed 18 pounds, 1 ounce - an outstanding weight in a no-cull tournament that allows only two fish over 20 inches. In fact, it was the second-heaviest limit of the entire tournament, and it came when it mattered most. Steil finished the tournament with a total weight of 58 pounds, 2 ounces.

Steil elaborated: "I only had three spots. I fished the southeast point of Cedar Island, the northeast tip of Buck Bar and the south side of Star Island. Today, the Star Island spot was the best because of the south winds.

"We pounded the fish pretty good for about 45 minutes in the early afternoon. After that, I decided to head in early because I didn't want to let myself do something stupid."

Scott Steil used creek chubs to win the Cass Lake Walleye Tour event.Cedar Island was his deep spot, and he targeted walleyes there in 15 to 25 feet of water. Star Island was his shallow-water spot and was loaded with cabbage in 6 feet of water.

Believe it or not, both Steil and Brunz caught the 27-inch kicker. After moving into the cabbage to seek hungry females, Brunz told Steil he was hooked up and the pro immediately grabbed the net. He saw the monster fish make a strong run and assumed it was a pike. When they got the walleye in the boat, they saw both Steil and Brunz's hooks in its mouth.

"I suppose that can happen with crystal clear water in only 6 feet."

Throughout the tournament, Steil rigged with a 6-foot snell and a 3/8-ounce weight. He dragged both creek chubs and redtail chubs at .2 mph. On his snell he used 8-pound Berkley Vanish, and on his main line he used 10-pound Berkley Vanish.

For winning the FLW Walleye Tour event on Cass Lake, pro Scott Steil earned $100,000."We had both types of chubs, but it didn't matter as long as the minnow was active. I think these fish are line-shy when the wind doesn't blow. That's why I use the Vanish."

The 35-year-old, who works for the family insurance company, reflected on a long and prosperous week: "I'm tired. That not knowing really wears on a guy. I kept doing the math in my head. When we caught that 19 ¾ slot and removed a 15-incher, I was pretty sure we had it. When you go out on the last day and pull your biggest weight, you can't ask for more than that."

Adams slips to second

Heading out in first place Saturday morning, local pro Carl Adams Jr. had a day on Cass Lake most anglers only dream about. With his co-angler, Kevin Bruer, Adams pulled 23 walleyes up to his boat - 10 of which were over 20 inches.

The problem was that Adams put a 21-incher in the box early in the morning. He was able to pair it with a 28-inch walleye and several nice slot fish. The five that he weighed Saturday went 15 pounds, 4 Pro Carl Adams Jr. of Blackduck, Minn., took second with a four-day total of 55-9.ounces, the second-heaviest limit of the day.

"We threw back a couple 22s, a couple 23s and a couple 24s," said the Blackduck, Minn., guide. "Those would have looked real good instead of that 21."

Adams used a Northland Roach Rig and a combination of shiners and creek chubs. He would fish the chub, and his co-angler would fish the shiner. The bigger chubs worked great on the overs and the shiners were effective for slot fish. The former Master's Walleye Circuit champion on Devils Lake presented these baits in water 7 to 10 feet deep with a 7-foot snell. He fished an area called the West Curve, located along the northeast side of Star Island. One of the keys to his success was finding areas where the shiners were about to spawn.

"They were stacked up there so good. I really had about as good of a day as possible. You just hope they come in the right order, and they really didn't. I guess I just wanted to get one in the box because you never know when things are going to change."

Had Adams pitched his first 21 and kept a 24, the final result would have been awfully close. His consolation prize is a check for $30,839. His total weight for the tournament was 55 pounds, 9 ounces.

Walleye League champion moves up to third

Toby Kvalevog brought in five walleyes for 13 pounds, 7 ounces on day four and moved from fourth place to third. His four-day total weight was 52 pounds, 12 ounces, which earned him a check for $8,827 without contingencies. The Brainerd, Minn., native was coming off a victory at a Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League event on Cass.

"I caught my fish in the same places I won the league event," said Kvalevog. "I had three spots around Pro Toby Kvalevog finished third and earned $8,827.
Cedar Island, and I fished the shorelines in front of Shram Lake."

The third-place pro used redtail chubs, a 9-foot leader and a 1/2-ounce weight. He caught all his fish in 7 to 14 feet of water.

"We were covering a lot of water and targeting active fish. We were going up to 1 mph at times."

At 7:30 this morning, Dave Anderson, Kvalevog's co-angler partner, caught a 27-inch walleye. Unfortunately, they never found a second big over to match it and were forced to box a 22-incher late in the day.

"We were just a few big bites away, so I'm certainly not complaining. I've made a lot of money off that bar in a week. I've always wanted to try one of these against the heavy hitters, the guys you read about in the magazines. I'd be kicking myself in the butt if I didn't try it. It was a blast."

Kvalevog's brief stint on the Walleye Tour may be over, but he still has considerable work left in the Minnesota Division of the FLW Walleye League. He finished eighth at the first league event of the year on the Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minn. He then won at Cass Lake and will return to northern Minnesota in a month for the season finale on Lake Bemidji. In addition to the Walleye League Finals in Winona, Minn., Kvalevog has a very good chance at qualifying for the Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River in Bismarck, N.D., as one of the points champions from the four Walleye League divisions.

Harsh fourth

Just as Adams had several chances to win, so did Mr. Tiller, Pete Harsh. While Adams was looking for his first tour-level victory, Harsh was looking for win No. 6. Although he wasn't entirely willing to acknowledge it, mechanical problems greatly contributed to his demise.

Despite having to drive his boat at 7 mph at times, Harsh still came up with a limit on day four weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces.

Pro leader Pete Harsh drops his day-two catch on the scale."I got a limit and that's better than yesterday," said the 2007 Walleye Tour champion on Devils Lake. "I got my five, and then I just barely snuck in."

Harsh was eight miles away on the main lake with 15 minutes to go. After frantically changing batteries and trying everything to get his main engine to work, he barely made the mandatory check-in on time.

"I had to quit yesterday at 12:30 with only three fish in the boat. That really hurt. Today the fishing was much better. We used chubs and leeches with an 8-foot leader and caught 15 fish over 20 inches. We were basically hunting for slots all day.

"We worked all day for little fish - what a problem to have. When you want big fish, you can't find them. When you want small fish, you can't find them."

His fourth-place finish and 52-pound, 8-ounce total weight was worth $10,582.

"Everything worked out as planned except for the mechanical issues. Pike Bay and Cass Lake are just excellent fisheries. There's not a better place to go on vacation if you like to fish."

Gordon finishes fifth

James Gordon of Spicer, Minn., earned $8,380 and finished in fifth place with a cumulative weight of 51 pounds, 9 ounces. On Saturday, Gordon managed five walleyes that weighed 14 pounds even.

Pro James Gordon took fifth place on Cass Lake with a four-day total of 51-9. Apparently Gordon's co-angler, Mike Taylor, did the heavy lifting on day four.

"I ran the net real well," Gordon quipped. "We had a limit by 9:30 and really couldn't have asked for a better day."

Gordon and Taylor were rigging with redtails.

"We wanted some shallow water with sand and grass that was adjacent to deep water."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists at the FLW Walleye Tour event on Cass Lake:

6th: Daniel Dejaeghere of Bemidji, Minn., 50-6, $8,815
7th: Todd Riley of Amery, Wis., 49-8 , $7,932
8th: Chris Gilman of Chisago City, Minn., 47-5, $7,050
9th: Larry Smith of Berlin, Wis., 45-0, $3,531
10th: David Kolb of Ada, Mich., 44-4, $5,726

Competition resumes July 23-26 for the final qualifying event of the $2.49 million FLW Walleye Tour season on Bays de Noc in Escanaba, Mich.

AOY update

Veteran pros Ted Takasaki and Ron Seelhoff are tied in the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year race after three events. To date, Takasaski and Seelhoff have accumulated 421 points. Behind them is Steil with 402 points and Harsh with 401 points.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2008-06-11-cass-lake 

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