UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

Hughes widens lead in Winona

Hughes widens lead in Winona
Boater Jimmy Hughes and co-angler Curtis Wuensch caught a limit Friday that weighed 15-13.

WINONA, Minn. - The sun never made an appearance but calmer, more stable weather improved the bite on day two of the Walmart FLW Walleye League Finals. Furthermore, yesterday's rain showers made the river current stronger and positioned the walleyes tighter to structure. Many anglers capitalized on this but none more than day-one leader Jimmy Hughes.

2008 has been a tough tournament year for the Oshkosh, Wis., native. Hughes led heading into the final day of competition at the Mercury Nationals only to slip to second. The same thing happened at the Master's Walleye Circuit event on Lake Winnebago. After catching 15-13 Friday and accumulating a two-day total of 37 pounds, 1 ounce, Hughes once again is in the driver's seat - only this time he looks unbeatable with nearly an 11-pound lead.

"I've been here before so I'm trying my best to get this," Hughes said of the elusive victory. "After 17 years of doing this, I'm ready to win the big one."

Hughes once again fished for big females with willow cats. He caught only five fish on the day, but they were the right ones. He continues to fish in 5 to 16 feet of water on a rig similar to a short Carolina rig. Hughes said his leader from hook to slip sinker is 12 inches in length.

"What a grind, what a grind," he said. "We just grind, grind, grind for fish that size. We're going 2-3 hours between bites. When you get a bite, it takes you completely off guard. You've got to keep your head in the game."

Hughes is fishing three different spots that are in one general area in Pool 6.

"These are resident fish and I'm afraid I'm picking off all the big ones. But I'm going to try to grind it out there because I only need a few big fish. It's tough to leave a spot when you're catching that kind of weight. I can't let up; I need to keep the pedal on the metal."

Big bag puts Christensen second

Daniel Christensen and Tom Laveque hold up part of their 18-pound, 13-ounce day-two catch.In second place is Cochrane, Wis., boater Daniel Christensen with 26 pounds, 6 ounces. After catching 7-9 on day one, Christensen caught an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit Friday, the second-heaviest of the day.

"We caught all our fish before 9 a.m.," Christensen said. "After that, we caught nothing but a sheepshead. The lack of wind made it a lot easier to anchor."

The second-place boater is fishing the front face of wing dams downstream in Pool 7. Surprisingly, he is using mainly leeches, although he did catch one weigh fish on a willow cat. Before the tournament began, he special ordered $400 worth of jumbo leeches from a vendor in Canada.

"It's the same spot we fished yesterday. We actually lost two pigs right away that made those look small."

Like Hughes, Christensen is presenting his leeches on a live-bait rig similar to a Carolina Rig. He uses a 14-inch leader and No. 2 hooks.

Jerowski third

In third place is local angler Mitch Jerowski, who had a disappointing day, catching a small limit that Mitchell Jerowski caught 8-8 Friday and slipped to third place in the Boater Division.weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. His opening-round total was 22 pounds, 10 ounces. In terms of location and presentation, Jerowski didn't change a thing from day one. He fished willow cats over wing dams and snags in Pool 6. What changed was that the bite slowed.

"It was just super tough," said the 2005 Walleye League Finals champion. "My co-angler had a big one on, it wrapped under a log and it was gone. Other than that, we've really been struggling with big fish."

Despite being in third place, Jerowski sounded extremely dejected.

"I really don't think I can catch 25 or 30 pounds tomorrow. I don't think I've got a spot that holds enough, but I'm going to try."

Dirkman, Carroll round out top fiveBrad Dirkman of Fergus Falls, Minn., is in fourth place with a two-day total weight of 21 pounds, 4 ounces.

Boater Brad Dirkman of Fergus Falls, Minn., demonstrated remarkable consistency and moved from fifth to fourth on the strength of a 10-pound, 11-ounce catch. His opening-round weight was 21 pounds, 4 ounces.

"I'm still doing a little bit of everything," he said. "I've caught some trolling wing dams, I've caught some with live bait and I've caught some with Gulp. The fish are moving though. Every day is a different day."

At 11 a.m. Dirkman had zero fish in the livewell. By 3:30, he had five, the smallest being 17 1/2 inches and the largest measuring 20 1/2.
Boater Chad Carroll and co-angler Keith Eiden caught 12 pounds, 3 ounces on day two.
Eighteen ounces behind Dirkman is Heartland Division boater Chad Carroll. The Lake Bluff, Ill., angler managed a 12-pound, 3-ounce catch with only four walleyes. Carroll, a veteran of MWC and WAT team tournaments on the Mighty Miss, fished willow cats on two wing dams in Pool 7. One wing dam is better for big fish, but there isn't as many congregated around it.

"It's possible but it's a lot of weight to make up," Carroll said of an improbable comeback victory. "I plan on spending more time on my big-fish spot tomorrow."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 boaters, who will be fishing on day three on the Mississippi River:

6th: Galen Bremmer of Avoca, Wis., 20-0
7th: Jonathan Rohde of Kildeer, Ill., 19-5
8th: Jerry Fox of Algonac, Mich., 18-15
9th: John Balla of Bartlett, Ill., 18-10
10th: Matthew Ernst of North Oaks, Minn., 18-8

Manning and Miller tie for co-angler lead

While the Boater Division is looking like a blowout, the Co-angler Division couldn't be any tighter Jerry Manning is tied with Dan Miller in the Co-angler Division after two days of competition on the Mississippi River.mathematically. Jerry Manning of Maquoketa, Iowa, and Dan Miller of Poynette, Wis., share the lead with an opening-round total of 24 pounds, 4 ounces. Both Manning and Miller improved their catches on day two. Manning went from 11-7 to 12-13 and Miller went from 7-15 to 16-5. Tomorrow, the two will duke it out for a $38,000 G3 V185F powered by Yamaha.

"I had a good partner today," said Manning. "He worked real hard and I learned a lot. We caught our limit by 11 a.m. and then we worked on catching bigger fish and caught a 4-pounder at about 1 p.m. They always say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but that ain't true. I learned a new technique today and that's what it's all about."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are day-one leader Paul Delaney of Baileys Harbor, Wis., (six walleyes, 23-13), Thomas Kaus of Lake Zurich, Ill., (10 walleyes, 21-1) and Brian Trainor of Winona, Minn.(six walleyes, 21)

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers, who will be fishing on day three on the Mississippi River:

6th: Tom Laveque of Saginaw, Mich., 19-15
7th: Carl Adams Sr. of Hines, Minn., 18-11
8th: Chris Kuehn of Osseo, Wis., 18-2
9th: Steve Keller of Beloit, Wis., 17-12
10th: Forrest Melton of Albany, Minn., 17-9

The final day of the FLW Walleye League Finals on the Mississippi River begins as the top 10 boaters and 10 co-anglers take off from Levee Park at 7 a.m. Central time Saturday. The final weigh-in, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located at 955 E. Frontenac Drive in Winona.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2008-09-11-walleye-league-finals 

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