UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Only one can take Oahe crown

The breeze starts to kick up on Lake Oahe as anglers prepare for a final day of Walleye Tour competition. Pro Barry Walker confers with his co-angler before takeoff.

PIERRE, S.D. - This is what they came for, what they hoped for, what they worked for: a shot at victory on Lake Oahe. After two days of fishing, a field of 116 FLW Walleye Tour anglers has been pared down to the best performing 10 pros and their co-angler counterparts, who will fish one final day Saturday in this Western Division event.

Cash awards of up to $25,000 and $5,000 await the pro and co-angler winners, respectively, but there is much more at stake for several among the top 10 in each division. Current pro leader Eric Olson of Red Wing, Minn., stands to win an additional $18,000 in boat and engine bonuses plus a payout from the optional pot he paid into - but he'll have to prove his pattern is the best first. Co-angler leader David Hosek of White Bear Lake, Minn., also entered the optional pot and may be qualified for a healthy boat bonus as well.

But the sport of tournament fishing is about far more than earning dollars - it's also about bringing into focus years of on-the-water learning and executing it at the most critical moments. It's about revering nature and a healthy fishery. It's about outsmarting the fish in their element, not to mention surviving the elements. And, yes, it's about bragging rights.

Perhaps more than the money and trophy, Olson assuredly wants to win on Oahe to tie up a nagging loose end. He is a veteran touring pro and one of the most recognizable faces on the Walleye Tour - yet a win has eluded him throughout the decade he has fished with FLW.

Today could very well be his day. Though he only holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over local pro Paul Steffen, Olson exudes confidence in his patterns and fishing areas, which can be critical in a mentally difficult competition like tournament fishing, where winners must perform at the highest level several days in a row.

"It is what it's been," Olson said this morning when asked how confident he is (Olson reported Thursday and Friday that "everything seemed to be falling into a groove."). "There will be no running and pushing the panic button."

His honeyhole from the last two days is in the northwest area of Little Bend, and it has shown no signs of going dry. But if it does, he said he has other productive areas within a three-mile radius of the location.

"(The walleyes) can shift deep and shift shallow," he said. "I know how to catch them in both conditions."

Off the lead by about 2 1/2 pounds and starting the day in seventh place, Forest Lake, Minn., pro Dusty Minke will look for the big bites that have eluded him for the most part this week in his area about 25 miles upstream from the takeoff location of Spring Creek. Each pair of pros and co-anglers are allowed to keep eight walleyes on the day, weighing their best five, but only two can measure over 20 inches. But finding the overs has proven difficult for many this week.

"We're going to run up to the Cheyenne (River) and get the fish in the boat and then go looking for some bigger bites with different presentations," said Minke, who is new to Lake Oahe. "It was my first time ever fishing on Oahe, and I think I want to move here."

Tournament logistics, details

In FLW Walleye Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship to be held on Leech Lake in Walker, Minn., Sept. 23-25.

Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Beck Chevrolet located at 500 S. Grant in Pierre beginning at 4 p.m.

For walleye-fishing fans unable to attend the festivities in person, you can follow the action in real time at FLWOutdoors.com with FLW Live, providing a live Walleye Tour leaderboard. Show time starts at 4 p.m. Central today.

Saturday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:59 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 71 degrees
Expected high temperature: 83 degrees
Water temperature at the ramp: 71 degrees
Wind: ESE at 8 mph
Maximum humidity: 77 percent
Day's outlook: low clouds, drizzle and fog; then a period of showers developing by 9 a.m.; any rain will end around late morning; cloudy with temperatures rising towards the low 80s; winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph; chance of rain 60 percent

Tags: patrick-baker  morning-story  2010-06-24-lake-oahe 

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