UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Steffens goes from hospital bed to first

Steffens goes from hospital bed to first
Day-one pro leader Dan Steffens (left) of Oxford, Wis., and his co-angler partner Brandon Finck of Minnesota hold up four giant Lake Erie walleyes.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - Two weeks ago, Dan Steffens was on his back in a hospital bed after suffering severe burns on his legs and ankles. The burns were so bad he had to coax his doctor into letting him spend the next two weeks in a boat. Thankfully, his doctor obliged.

Steffens, a maintenance worker from Oxford, Wis., brought in the heaviest five-fish limit on the first day of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour, held out of Port Clinton, Ohio, on Lake Erie. It weighed 42 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I wanted to fish so bad. I promised my doctor I would change my bandages and do everything I could to avoid making my legs worse," he said.

Although he and his co-angler partner, Brandon Finck of Minnesota, actually caught the fish, Steffens credits his strong day to a few others, notably, fellow pro Kevin Carstensen.

"I was struggling to stay in the boat during practice because my legs hurt so bad, and I was having trouble getting anything going. Kevin took me out in his boat and showed me what he was doing and where he was doing it. I went there today, and we just happened to get some good fish right away. I can't thank Kevin enough," said Steffens, adding that he didn't catch a single fish on the last day of practice.

Understandably, he's holding his cards close, giving up only the fact that he caught his fish trolling. That's not much information, but with a $50,000 first-place check on the line, it's no wonder Steffens wants to keep his tactics to himself.

That may be hard to do in this tournament. Although the water around Port Clinton is known not only for numbers of walleye, but big fish, too, Erie is actually fishing small. The lake is suffering from the effects of too much rain and wind: Clear water is a precious commodity. Find it and you've not only found fish, Wisconsin pro Gary Parsons brought a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 41 pounds, 5 ounces, enough for second place.you've also found plenty of other anglers, as Steffens learned. Those other boats actually turned out to be a good thing. He was forced into a different drift than he originally planned, but the new drift put him on his huge limit.

Parsons, Barrett second

Steffens wasn't the only angler who busted the 40-pound mark. Wisconsin pro Gary Parsons and his co-angler Dave Barrett, also from Wisconsin, brought a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 41 pounds, 5 ounces, enough for second place. Parsons predicted at least a few anglers just might break 40 today, and after the weigh-in he admitted he felt he might be one of them.

"We've been on good fish during the practice," he said, referring to sponsor teammates Keith Kavajecz, who sits in fifth place, and his son, Chase, who is in 10th. "My partner and I just happened to get on some good fish early, and we kept moving around, picking up a good one here and there."

Parsons credits his long experience with Great Lakes walleye to his current standing, including plenty of time on the water around Port Clinton itself. With that experience in mind, he plans to do the same thing tomorrow, but like leader Steffens, he's reluctant to say exactly what or where that is.

"I had some other boats around me, so I'd prefer not to have any more if I can help it," he said.

Graves third among pros

Third-place professional Jeff Graves also had a few other boats around him, but he didn't think they mattered too much. He managed to bring in the only other 40-pound-plus sack of the first day. It weighed 40-2. He caught all his fish on a three-mile drift, pulling crankbaits and Reef Runners, a popular local bait that has a reputation for catching Erie's giants. It caught a 10-pounder for Graves, but the big fish came off at the back of the boat.

"That fish would have helped, but that's how it goes sometimes. I know where to go tomorrow," he said.

All three top pros admitted they just happened to find big fish, something many of the other anglers didn't do. Although there were 12 limits over 30 pounds, there were dozens of anglers who only weighed a single fish. That could certainly change. The weather is supposed to be settled and the water will likely be clearer tomorrow, an ingredient all the anglers have been waiting for.

Tournament details
Second-place pro Gary Parsons and his co-angler partner, well-known chef Dale Janota, enjoy their moment in the limelight.

Anglers will take off from the Nor' Easter Club at 2801 Nor' Easter Cove Road in Port Clinton at 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Friday's weigh-in will take place at WaterWorks Park in downtown Port Clinton beginning at 3 p.m; Saturday's weigh-in will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be held at the Walmart located at 2826 East Harbor Rd. in Port Clinton. There will be a free family fishing clinic where children can win free rods and reels and other great giveaways prior to the final weigh-in. Fans will also have the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, ride in a Ranger boat simulator, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing during the FLW Outdoors Expo. All activities are free and open to the public.

Tags: david-hart  headline-story  2011-05-12-lake-erie 

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