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

Pool 3 pigfest

Pool 3 pigfest
Pro winner Bill Shimota holds up his two biggest fish from day three on the Mississippi River.

WELCH, Minn. - All week long, teammates Bill Shimota, Dusty Minke and Toby Kvalevog jockeyed for position on top of the leaderboard at the FLW Walleye Tour Western Division season opener. Each had great programs, but on the final day of competition, Shimota put the pedal to the metal and whacked an unimaginable 35-pound, 8-ounce limit.

Shimota's final-day stringer would make even a Lake Erie expert blush. Each of his five weigh fish were pigs - the smallest going well over 6 pounds. The vast majority of these walleyes came from the bottom end of Buffalo Slough, a well known stretch of Pool 3 on the Mississippi River. Although Buffalo Slough is a community area, Shimota fished what he described as secret holes. In practice, he purposely stayed away from them so as not to gather attention.

"Right away this morning it was on fire," said Shimota, who also won the FLW Walleye League Finals on the Mississippi River, albeit downstream in the Quad Cities. "We had a limit in the first hour."

Shimota's first five went 27 (inches), 28, 27, 26, 20.

The Lonsdale, Minn., electrician caught his fish with a unique program. He would dead-stick two three-way rigs with big creek chubs off the back of the boat. His rigs had 4-foot leaders, 1-foot drops with 3/4-ounce weights. He would hook the chubs with a No. 1 Gamakatsu octopus through the lip and then through the dorsal with a No. 6 Gamakatsu treble. Simultaneously Shimota and his co-angler would cast No. 7 RS Shad Raps. Color didn't seem to matter too much, but "firetiger" and "shad" were consistent Bill Shimota holds up his trophy for winning the first Western Division event of the 2010 season.producers.

"Today four of the five fish we weighed came from casting cranks - that made it real fun. Later in the day we caught a 27-incher trolling Fireline over a sand flat near the Prairie Island power plant. That came at about 1 p.m., and then we decided to ease on in and call it a day."

When trolling, Shimota used No. 5 Shad Raps and pulled them against the current at 2 mph and with the current at approximately 3.5 mph.

"We basically wanted the cranks digging into the bottom. Between Buffalo and the power plant, I bet we burned less than 10 gallons of gas in three days. "

Shimota finished the event with a three-day total weight of 90 pounds, 4 ounces and 15-pound margin of victory. That's mind-boggling considering Ted Takasaki won last years' four-day tournament on Pools 3 and 4 with a total weight of 93 pounds, 5 ounces.

"This is something you dream of. I've won some smaller tournaments in my career, but this is the one I wanted. Done deal."

With the addition of optional pot money and boat and engine contingencies, the 30-year-old earned $36,000.

While Shimota grew up along the banks of the Minnesota River in New Prague, Minn., the Mississippi is quickly becoming his home away from home.

"I just have a lot of confidence fishing rivers. And the Mississippi is basically my home tournament water. I spend a lot of my free time poking around down here. I love reading current and adjusting to seasonal patterns. These fish in Pool 3 were still on the tail-end of their post-spawn migration. It sure seemed like they were coming to me."

Incidentally, the No. 7 RS Shad Rap is the exact same lure he used to win the 2007 Walleye League event on Lake Bemidji.

Kvalevog rises to second

Day-one leader Toby Kvalevog had yet another 20-pound-plus day on the Mississippi - catching 26-3 Saturday. Although Kvalevog had only five hours of official practice, he put together a solid slack-water program.

"I was pitching live-bait rigs to rocks, not wing dams, in shallow water," said the Brainerd, Minn., teacher. "I came down a few weeks before and was on a solid wing-dam program, but that completely changed as the water came up."

Kvalevog used 3-foot leaders and a 1/2-ounce weight on 20-pound Power Pro braid. For bait, he used both big willow cats and redtail chubs.

"We were swimming it across the current seam; it was basically a secondary chute. I anchored in 9 to 10 feet and fished in 2 to 5 feet. I did catch a couple big ones deeper on day one."

Kvalevog's best area was located on the south end of Pool 3 near the lock on the Minnesota side of the river. He finished the tournament with a total weight of 74 pounds, 14 ounces, earning $5,792.

"We only had four fish at 2:30 p.m., so we're very happy with that weight."

Minke third

Like Shimota, Dusty Minke also fished Buffalo Slough. But while Shimota was basically by himself, Pro Dusty Minke and co-angler Dave Hennings caught a five-fish limit Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.Minke was right in the middle of it. During the first two days, he was able to catch impressive stringers from a crowd. But that pressure eventually took its toll, and Minke had to call an audible Saturday.

"Early in the week we were three-waying a Northland Gum-Drop Floater. I think most people in the area were pulling floaters with one hook, and I was pulling a floater with two hooks. I used a 12-inch dropper and a 4-foot snell, and my weight was probably heavier."

While his partners used minnows and cats, Minke employed nothing but night crawlers.

On day three he started with the aforementioned live-bait program before resorting to casting No. 5 Shad Raps.

"I should've casted cranks all day, but I thought that spot would maybe replenish. I left at 9 this morning, and I'm glad I left when I did."

Minke, who took third at last year's Walleye League Finals, finished with 65 pounds, 13 ounces. His day-three limit weighed 15 pounds, 4 ounces. His efforts earned him $4,131.

"This has been one of the best weeks of my life; it's been a blast."

Lotz retains fourth

Pro Steve Lotz finished fourth with a total weight of 63 pounds, 2 ounces.Finishing fourth was Lena, Ill., native Steve Lotz. After catching limits of 25-5 and 20-14, Lotz managed 16-15 on day three to bring his total to 63 pounds, 2 ounces.

"We fished nothing but wing dams this week," he said. "Most of them were on the south end of the pool, but we also had some near Prescott."

Lotz's program was similar to Shimota's. He would dead-stick a three-way rig with a 1-ounce jig as a dropper. He would tip the jig not with live bait but with a shad-bodied trailer. And coming off the snell was a spinner tipped with a leech.

With his other two rods, he and his partner would cast crankbaits - mainly Bomber 6As and No.5 Shad Raps. His best colors were chartreuse and perch.

"Most of the bigger fish I caught came on the big jig, but 70 percent came on the cranks. Today the bite was much tougher. Some of these areas I fished really hard - that could have been it."

Lotz's fourth-place finish earned him $5,991.

Lowe rises to fifthFourth-place pro Richard Lowe holds up his kicker walleye from day three on the Mississippi River.

Pro Richard Lowe caught the second-heaviest stringer of the day weighing 28 pounds, 12 ounces and rose three places from eighth to fifth. Lowe finished the tournament with a total weight of 60 pounds, 5 ounces, earning $1,993.

"At 11 a.m. I wondered what we had to do to make it happen," said the Soldiers Grove, Wis., native. "What we did, we finally said the heck with it and worked one rod apiece and fished more thoroughly. The way things turned around was amazing."

A veteran bass fisherman, Lowe reflected on his first event as a professional walleye angler.

"I'm a rookie, and I've never fished this pool before. Maybe not having any preconceived notions helped."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists at the FLW Walleye Tour event on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers:

6th: Nick Fautsch of Maddock, N.D., 57-9 (three-day total), $1,744
7th: Paul Meleen of Isle, Minn., 41-11, $3,974
8th: Chad Nissen of White Bear Township, Minn., 40-12, $2,061
9th: Brian Bjorkman of Fargo, N.D., 40-2, $3,149
10th: Byron Peterson of Blair, Neb., 36-2, $747

FLW Walleye Tour competition resumes June 24-26 on Lake Oahe in Pierre, S.D.

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

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