UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Weights, numbers up on Erie

Weights, numbers up on Erie
Jeff Graves (right) and his partner hold up four of their five walleyes that helped put him in the top slot going into day three.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - Jeff Graves was just one of three anglers to break the 40-pound mark on the first day of the Lake Erie National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event. Today, he was just one of three to catch more than 40 pounds again. Fortunately, he was the only angler to catch two sacks more than 40 pounds. Today's limit of 42 pounds, 7 ounces gave him the lead with a total weight of 82 pounds, 9 ounces. He and nine other professional anglers will fish for the top prize of up to $63,000 tomorrow on the final day of the event.

The tournament, hosted by the City of Port Clinton and Lake Erie Shores and Islands, was expected to be filled with heavy sacks and abundant limits. However, dirty water hampered the bite for the majority of the anglers. Graves, however, wasn't one of them. He caught nine fish today and lost two while fishing among what he said was "a lot of traffic."

"We were the second to last boat to go out, and the area I'm fishing had a lot of other boats on it; so I was a little concerned, but we caught a double within the first 15 minutes," he noted.

Graves, like the other top anglers, was reluctant to give up much information, saying only that he was pulling crankbaits and that speed and depth factored into his success today. Wind, or lack of it, also played a major role. The bite died when the wind died, he said, but it picked back up later in the day when the wind blew again. He worked the same area that produced so well yesterday and plans to go back tomorrow.

"I think it still has plenty of fish left," he said.

Keenan on the move

Tom Keenan also plans to do the same thing. However, he's doing almost the exact opposite of the rest of the pack. Instead of searching for cleaner water, the 42-year-old Hatley, Wis., pro is looking for dirty water.

"The dirtier the better," he said. "I'm also looking for places where no one else is fishing. I didn't have anyone else fishing around me either day so far, and I expect that to be the case tomorrow."

It's a pattern that's not only working, it produced the heaviest limit of the tournament so far at 46 pounds, 6 ounces. He jumped six spots from yesterday.

Keenan and his partner fished several different areas, running as much as 10 miles between stops. Unlike the other anglers, he's not worried at all about tomorrow's weather. While at least some of the top 10 are hoping for a little wind, Keenan doesn't care what the wind does. He'll pull crankbaits again, wind, sun or rain.

Kavajacz third

Keith Kavajacz, however, will be praying for a good wind.

"I need wind. I hope it blows tomorrow," he said, adding that the wind helps position the fish and gets them actively feeding. "It might also make it harder for the other guys to get to their spots."

Kavajecz is also pulling cranks, but he said the key to his 73-5, two-day limit isn't just the three different colors of lures he's using, but how he's pulling those lures. Instead of straight-line trolling, the Kaukauna, Wis., tournament veteran is making sharp turns.

"I wouldn't call them S-turns. I'd probably call them W-turns because I'm cutting them so hard. I think Fourth-place Walleye Tour pro Danny Steffens holds up what he hopes will be the bait that gives him his first-ever National Guard FLW Walleye Tour win. that's the key to my success," he explained. "The sharp turn slows down the lures on the inside and speeds up the baits on the outside and those speed changes are what's triggering the bite. Almost all my bites are coming on those swings."

He ended up with six bites, but lost one. Four of those walleyes came in the first hour; the other two were in the last hour. In between, he said, there was no wind.

Rest of the best

Day-one leader Danny Steffens slipped to fourth after bringing only four fish to the scales today. They weighed 29 pounds, giving him a two-day total of 71 pounds, 15 ounces. John Balla of Bartlett, Ill., dropped one spot to fifth. Scott Geitgey made the biggest jump; the Ohio angler rose from 28th place to sixth. Mark Gwizdala is in seventh, followed by Shawn Ritchie of Ohio and Mark Brumbaugh, who sits in ninth. Jeff Vereeke moved up six places to take the final slot in the top 10.

Scymczak leads co-anglers

Co-anglers will fish for a top prize of up to $10,500. They include leader Ed Scymczak, who weighed 63-12 over two days, followed by Daniel Leach and Mike Bentz. Todd Rairigh is in fourth; Joim Milewsky is fifth, followed by Dale Janota, Tim Depooter, Mike Taylor and Tyrone Larson.

Anglers will take off from the Nor' Easter Club at 2801 Nor' Easter Cove Rd. in Port Clinton at 7 a.m. Saturday. The 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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