UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Practice optional

Practice optional
Pro leader Toby Kvalevog and co-angler Cal Van Cleve hold up four nice Mississippi River walleyes.

Welch, Minn. - As a physical education teacher in Brainerd, Minn., Toby Kvalevog is busy in the classroom until the kids are dismissed in early June. But he managed to sneak in a few vacation days to compete in the FLW Walleye Tour Western Division season opener on the Mississippi River. And despite having only five hours to practice, Kvalevog leads the tournament at the conclusion of day one.

Kvalevog arrived in southeast Minnesota Wednesday morning at approximately 7 a.m. He put in a few frantic hours of prefishing and then immediately headed to the mandatory registration meeting. During his abbreviated practice, he failed to boat a single keeper walleye.

"It's always good to be in first place, but I certainly didn't expect it," said the former University of North Dakota goalie. "In fact, when I left this morning I wasn't very excited at all. I went to basically the only spot I had and there was a boat already there, so I moved and adjusted a little and it ended up being the sweet spot."

Kvalevog finished the day with 27 pounds, 7 ounces - more than 2 pounds ahead of second.

"It was a beautiful day on the water and I had a stick today in Cal [Van Cleve]. He told me he couldn't catch any fish with a jig and the first thing this morning he caught one jigging. I then asked him what else he couldn't do."

To be more precise, Kvalevog said he caught his fish via three methods.

"We caught some rigging, we caught some jigging and we caught some on crankbaits. This is a spot-on-the -spot deal where you don't expect to get many bites. I bet we averaged one fish every hour or so. They bit off and on all day."

Kvalevog's two biggest were 27 and 26 inches in length. He smallest weigh fish (Anglers can keep eight in the livewell and weigh their best five. Culling is not permitted.) was 24 inches. All of his keepers were walleyes and they all came from Pool 3 of the Mississippi.

Pro Steve Lotz and co-angler Lance Bainville caught five fish Thursday that weighed 25 pounds, 5 ounces. Each angler sits in second place in their respective divisions.After winning Angler of the Year in the Minnesota Division of the FLW Walleye League last year, Kvalevog got an automatic berth into the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. But this is truly his first tournament as a paid professional and the stress was beginning to wear on him.

"This helps. To start the season like this really eases my mind. Now it's just all about fishing."

Lotz second

Lena, Ill., pro Steve Lotz caught a limit weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces for second place. Lotz caught only five keepers on the day, the last coming at approximately 3:10 p.m.

"We went out today pretty sure we could catch around 15 pounds," said Lotz. "But the fish came in the right order and we got all the way to 25. But we had to work for them; the last one came right before it was time to come in."

Lotz had been catching good numbers of 2- and 3-pounders during practice. He was shocked, but happy, that they were as big as they were today. His smallest fish was still over 4 pounds.

"We covered water from one end of the pool to the other. I bet we stopped and fished like 12 to 15 different spots."

Shimota third
Pro Bill Shimota is in third place after catching five walleyes Thursday weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces.
In third place is Lonsdale, Minn., pro and former FLW Walleye League champion Bill Shimota. Shimota caught a limit weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces and boxed his eighth and final fish at 1 p.m. When he returned to the marina, he saw his friend and teammate Dusty Minke tied up waiting for him.

"It was just an unbelievable day; I couldn't be happier," said Shimota. "Going into this one I was definitely nervous. I've caught some of those big ones before but it's so tough to do with any consistency."

Shimota said the plan this morning was to box any fish. And right off the bat, a few 16-inchers bit and into the livewell they went. As the day wore on, the fish got bigger. The smallest he ended up weighing was 22 inches.

"We had to come in early, but I'm not complaining. And I really think that with the water dropping, this spot can replenish."

Bruegger fourth

In fourth place was Wabasha, Minn., fisherman Robert Bruegger, who caught a limit weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce. This is Bruegger's first FLW Outdoors tournament, but he's fished MWC events in the past on Pools 3 and 4.

Pro Dusty Minke and co-angler Cal Van Cleve hold up three nice Mississippi River walleyes.Minke fifth

Minke, of Forest Lake, Minn., brought in a sack weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces, which was good enough for fifth place in the Pro Division. Minke was the first angler to return in the marina as he had his eight fish in the livewell by 11 a.m.

"I put two 15-inchers in early," said Minke, who finished third at last year's Walleye League Finals. "Tomorrow maybe I can set more of a standard. But it's important to have a limit every day. And having a limit early really helps the confidence."

Minke never had to weigh those 15-inchers. The smallest walleye in his five-fish limit was 21 inches long. Minke said he ran only one program and fished one area. He is keeping quiet about presentations - only allowing he was using Northland Tackle.

"My goal here is to go big and I really fell into more fish than I thought I would."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros on day one on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers:

6th: Jason Przekurat ofStevens Point, Wis., four walleyes, 21-2
7th: Chad Nissen of White Bear Township, Minn., five walleyes, 20-13
8th: Paul Meleen of Isle, Minn., five walleyes, 18-10
9th: Richard Lowe of Soldiers Grove, Wis., five walleyes, 17-0
10th: Brian Bjorkman of Fargo, N.D., five walleyes, 15-11

South Dakota native takes co-angler lead

Cal Van Cleve, a three-year veteran of the FLW Walleye Tour, is in the lead after catching 27 pounds, 7 ounces on day one. Van Cleve was paired with Kvalevog and despite claiming to not be a jigger, immediately put a nice keeper in the boat with the steady up-and-down presentation.

Kvalevog said Van Cleve was a big contributor in the team's overall success.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top five co-anglers on day one on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers:

2nd: Lance Bainville of Mounds View, Minn., five walleyes, 25-5
3rd: Todd Dankert of Anoka, Minn., five walleyes, 23-11
4th: Robert Dube of Williston, N.D., five walleyes, 23-1
5th: Michael Dubois of Elk River, Minn., five walleyes, 21-9

Day two of FLW Walleye Tour competition on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers begins as the field of takes off from Treasure Island Resort Marina at 7 a.m. Central time Friday for the second day of the opening round.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2010-05-20-miss-river-pool-3-lake-st-croix 

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