UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Championship preview: Leech looking like Vegas

The top 10 pros and co-anglers prepare to launch on the final day of the Walmart FLW Walleye Tour tournament on Leech Lake. First through tenth places are separated by 12 pounds, 5 ounces in the pro division and 6 pounds in the co-angler division.

Perhaps it's appropriate that the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minn., is hosting the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship on Leech Lake. From the looks of things, this no-entry-fee tournament is going to be a gamble.

For starters, a state-enacted slot limit is in place that prohibits anglers from keeping walleyes 18 to 26 inches in length. On the first two days, anglers are allowed to keep two walleyes over 26 inches. On the final two days, that number shrinks to one. In the tournament fishing world, these 26-inch-plus fish are known as "overs."

"Every over is a gift to be cherished," said Max, Minn., pro Brian Brosdahl. "You can get five overs one day and then zero the next. You never know, so each one is a blessing."

The keepers between 14 and 18 inches are known as "unders." And it's always a tough decision on northern Minnesota lakes whether to target overs or unders. On the first two days, anglers are allowed National Guard pro Mark Courts leads the pro field with 8 pounds.to keep seven fish and weigh their best five. On days three and four, they are allowed to keep and weigh only four fish.

"No. 1, I'm trying to find a spot where I can catch a limit," said National Guard pro Mark Courts. "And right now, that's not easy. The water temperature is dropping in a hurry and the fish are sort of in shock. I want to find a consistent area first, and then I'll worry about big fish. Because right now, you can't take any chances."

Courts said that if the tournament started today he would keep every fish he caught. The translation is that the bite is currently tough - mainly because the transition from summer to fall is taking place. The walleyes are recouping, but in a few days, that could change.

"The bite is a fraction of what it normally is," Brosdahl said. "One out of every 10 spots has fish and not all of them are biting. But the big fall turn on is close. Right now, the water temperature is around 60 degrees. At 55, the fish start showing up in traditional spots."

Brosdahl thinks a variety of tactics will come into play. The standard presentation on Leech Lake is Minnesota Division boater Brian Brosdahl makes his final tackle preparations before day two. rigging with redtail chubs. But Brosdahl will also have leeches in his arsenal, which are extremely hard to obtain in the fall.

"Leeches are very important to my program. But when this lake is on, and I predict it will turn on, you can catch them a number of ways. I think spinners and crankbaits will play a role in this tournament."

Leech Lake is notorious for being a wind-driven fishery. In other words, specific points and humps are productive only with a steady chop. And since that's a widely understood phenomenon, those areas can become crowded, which is hard to believe with only 40 boats on a 110,000-acre lake.

"I think it's probably going to be won deep rigging and Walker Bay is well known for just that," said Isle, Minn., pro Kevin McQuoid.

"Walker Bay is just a little more accessible," added Courts. "But you can catch overs all over this lake. The over game definitely can be played on the main lake."

CabelaCourts and Brosdahl disagree about how much weight will be needed to win the tournament, and that's not surprising considering the lake is in flux. But Courts believes it will be somewhere around 40 to 45 pounds while Brosdahl is thinking 52 to 55.

"I really think the key is not to get too far behind," explained McQuoid. "It's tough to make up ground with only one over on each of the last two days."

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Walker City Park located at the lighthouse on Minnesota Avenue in Walker at 7:30 each morning. Wednesday and Thursday's weigh-ins will also be held at Walker City Park beginning at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Northern Lights Casino parking lot located at 6800 Y Frontage Road NW in Walker beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Family Fun Zone at the Northern Lights Casino on Friday and Saturday from 1 - 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. Rod and reel combos will be given to the first 100 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday, which can be redeemed following the final weigh-in. The Family Fun Zone will include the National Guard obstacle course and rock climbing walls, a Ranger boat simulator, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events and additional information, browse FLWOutdoors.com.

Tags: brett-carlson  pre-tournament  2010-09-22-leech-lake 

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