UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Wolf River Chain of Lakes

Feldner retains lead, Larson lurking

Feldner retains lead, Larson lurking
Pro Jason Feldner (left) and co-angler Justin Steinke hold up part of their 15-pound, 2-ounce limit.

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - The bite on Devils Lake this week hasn't been bad, it's just been different. In two days of FLW Walleye Tour action, over 70 five-fish limits have been weighed. But none of them have crossed the 20-pound mark and the better sacks are not coming from traditional honeyholes. That's opened the door for a few locals to demonstrate their intimate home-lake knowledge.

Leading the tournament at the conclusion of the opening round is pro Jason Feldner. The Minnewaukan, N.D., native won the 2006 PWT event on Devils and guides on the lake under the business name Perch-Eyes. Feldner spends over 240 days a year on the lake and is very much in tune with its seasonal migrations. While the high, turbid water is a curveball for most of the field, it's no sweat for the pro leader.
Pro leader Jason Feldner celebrates after his day-two weight is called.
"Believe it or not, the bite was slower today," he said. "We got up to my favorite stretch and I immediately said `this ain't good.' But I kind of knew it was going to be slower after the storm that rolled through last night."

Three quarters of the way through that first stretch he picked up a 20 3/4-inch fish. He then caught three consecutive 18-inch walleyes.

"I got a lot little nervous and threw those three 18s in (the livewell)."

From there, Feldner and his co-angler partner Justin Steinke caught approximately one keeper an hour. At 1:30 p.m., Steinke stuck a fat 19 7/8.

"I decided I couldn't throw that fish back. That was No. 8 so we were done and it was time to come in. We had to work really hard to get what we got; we only had about a quarter of the bites we had yesterday."

Feldner is staying quiet about his successful pattern. Not only does he have first place on the line tomorrow, he's got another major tournament, the Master's Walleye Circuit, coming to his home lake in the near future.

"I'm hoping 16 or 17 pounds tomorrow will be enough to win. And I hope the wind is dead calm. If it's flat and calm, that takes the crankbait pitchers out of the equation."

Pro Scott Larson and co-angler Lowell Joy caught five walleyes Friday that weighed 15 pounds, 13 ounces.Larson climbs to second

Just like Feldner, local pro Scott Larson is famous in the lakes region for his prowess on Devils Lake. While this is Feldner's first FLW tournament, Larson has been here before. He's had two top-10 finishes on Devils, but he's never been quite able to seal the deal.

"Today was good; I'm hitting my goal weight every day," Larson said. "And a few of the big fish are starting to show up."

Larson said he's confident he's on a consistent pattern, but he's unsure if it's capable of winning.

"I'm going to set my standard at 19 tomorrow. We caught probably 30 fish today and 40 to 50 yesterday. And most of those fish are 17-inches plus."

For clarification, Larson plans to keep only fish 19 inches in length and longer. North Dakota is a no-cull state. For this event, anglers are allowed to keep eight and weigh their best five.

To catch his fish, Larson is dissecting patches of weeds in 8 to 10 feet of water. Occasionally he'll pitch crankbaits, but his bread and butter is pulling spinners and Lindy rigs with night crawlers. Interestingly, he runs into Feldner on the water from time to time.

"We're fishing a similar area and we see each other a few times each day. We're basically fishing the same fish."

Burns rises third

After catching 13 pounds yesterday, Chris Burns managed five more keepers weighing 18 pounds, 8 ounces today - bringing his total weight to 31 pounds, 8 ounces. Burns experienced a morning flurry in a small honeyhole that was almost too good to believe.

"At 8:15 a.m. we almost called you (Tournament Director Sonny Reynolds) to see if we could come in and have bacon and eggs. We actually had seven in the livewell at 7:50."

Burns then left that area in order to save some fish for tomorrow.

"We caught those early ones in the trees on slip bobbers and leeches, but we caught fish all day on everything. We pulled spinners, we pitched jigs and we used Slow Death. We did everything, but we never upgraded any of those bobber fish."

All of Burns' weigh fish were over 20 inches and his two biggest were 24s.

"I consider myself a river fisherman so I'm happy to do well here. If we get the right wind again tomorrow this could be the winning program."

Pro Tommy Skarlis and co-angler Bryan Bayerkohler combined for a 15-pound, 3-ounce limit Friday.Skarlis fourth

After a mediocre practice, Tommy Skarlis is putting together a very nice tournament. After catching 13-14 on day one, Skarlis improved to 15-3 today, bringing his opening-round total to 29 pounds, 1 ounce.

"Oh man I'm excited about this," Skarlis said. "I'm only fishing this one (in the Western Division) so there's no pressure. And I'm doing a lot better than I thought."

Skarlis is working multiple presentations at several locations. In fact, he didn't catch any today in the area he caught all his fish yesterday.

"I've established some successful patterns. I'm live-bait rigging over a ditch with a Lindy R-bend bottom bouncer. On that setup I use half a night crawler. I'm also pitching Lindy Shadling crankbaits in the weeds. My Hummingbird side-imaging unit has been huge for marking fish in those weeds and then I crash in and out with my Minn Kota bow-mount (trolling motor)."

Pro Chad Schilling and co-angler Ted Kaminski caught five walleyes Friday that weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces.Schilling fifth

Akaska, S.D., pro Chad Schilling finished the opening round in fifth place with a total weight of 29 pounds, 1 ounce. On day one he caught a limit worth 14-13 and today he managed a 14-4 sack.

"I'm on a big fish spot, I just can't get a big-fish bite," he said. "What you see here - I can usually get that pretty quick. We had three hours for a hog today and it never came."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cutoff after day two:

6th: Mark Courts of Harris, Minn., two-day total of 28-15
7th: Paul Meleen of Isle, Minn., 28-12
8th: Kevin McQuoid of Isle, Minn., 28-8
9th: Gary Maher of Menoken, N.D., 28-8
10th: Eric Olson of Red Wing, Minn., 28-6

Karlgaard takes co-angler lead

Don Karlgaard of East Gull Lake, Minn., leads the Co-angler Division with 10 walleyes weighing 32-8. Karlgaard caught 17-12 on day one with pro Troy Sand and 14-12 today with Cabela's pro Paul Meleen.

"I just had an awesome day, another fun one," said Karlgaard. "I had my first top 10 last month on Lake Oahe; I can't believe I made it again."

"The fish came early and that took all the pressure off. We had our first two keepers by about 8:15 and by 9 we had our limit. About noon the wind changed and the bite died, but by then we were in good shape."

Karlgaard and Meleen fished weeds with crankbaits and deeper points with live-bait rigs.

"I am really looking forward to fishing with Feldner tomorrow; I couldn't have picked a better partner."

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who made the cutoff after day two:

2nd: Ted Kaminski of Saint Anthony, Minn., two-day total of 30-7
3rd: Richard Ness of Blunt, S.D., 29-10
4th: Victor Wood of Rapid City, S.D., 28-15
5th: Clarence Heckert of Winnipeg, Manitoba, 27-15
6th: Bryan Bayerkohler of Eagan, Minn., 27-9
7th: Greg Oppegard of West St. Paul, Minn., 26-14
8th: Lowell Joy of Bemidji, Minn., 26-9
9th: William Drake of Horace, N.D., 26-5
10th: Lance Bainville of Mounds View, Minn., 26-4

The final day of FLW Walleye Tour competition on Devils Lake begins as the top-10 pros and top-10 co-anglers take off from Woodland Resort, located at 1012 Woodland Dr. in Devils Lake at 7 a.m. Central time Saturday.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2010-07-29-devils-lake 

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