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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Close to the finish

Close to the finish
The top-10 pro sand co-anglers make their way out to a calm Lake Erie on the last day of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour competition.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - Keith Kavajecz hoped for a good wind on Lake Erie this morning. It doesn't look like he'll be getting it. The top-10 pros and co-anglers were greeted by leaden skies and slick water as they made their way out to the big lake for the final day of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour, hosted by the City of Port Clinton and Lake Erie Shores and Islands. The forecast calls for light winds and rain with the possibility of thunderstorms, not exactly what Kavajecz, who sits in third place, was looking for. He's more than 9 pounds behind day-two leader Jeff Graves, who has 82 pounds, 9 ounces.

"My bites yesterday all came when the wind was blowing. When it was calm in the middle of the day, the fish just quit," he said. "I do have a back-up spot, though."

In addition to the less-than-ideal conditions, the pool will not only be competing against each other, they'll likely be dealing with other boats, lots of them. It's Saturday, the bite is hot and this is Port Clinton, a town that lives for fishing and boating. Along with throngs of recreational anglers and boaters, there are other tournaments in the area, and more tournaments next weekend. But these are some of the best walleye anglers in the country and with a top prize of up to $63,000 on the line, they'll find a way to catch fish.

Amp Energy/Diet Mountain Dew pro John Balla is in fifth place overall. Balla will be pulling this Reef Runner crankbait on the final day of National Guard FLW Walleye Tour competition on Lake Erie.Amp Energy/Diet Mountain Dew pro John Balla, who sits in fifth place and is 12 pounds behind leader Jeff Graves, isn't worried about the lack of wind. He is, however, concerned about the abundance of boats.

"There were probably a hundred boats in a two-mile area yesterday, and I expect there to be that many or more today," he said. "It would be nice to get some wind just so it helps everyone drift in the same direction. If there's no wind, it could get pretty busy out there. If it can't get anything going by 11:30 I'll make a move."

His back-up spot is close to the Canadian border and will likely have far fewer boats. Balla will use the same lures and techniques in both spots, trolling Reef Runners in pink lemonade and naked perch in depths of 28 to 36 feet. The primary key to his success so far, he says, is how he's pulling those lures. Balla is making lots of "S" turns, which speed up the outside lures and slow down the inside ones.

"The variation in lure speed is triggering the bites," he says.

Tournament leader Jeff Graves gets wired for the television cameras on the final morning of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Erie.Leader Jeff Graves, who is fishing his first-ever FLW Walleye Tour event, is also concerned about the boat traffic and the calm water. Like the other competitors, he's pulling crankbaits.

"I'm just going to stick with my area and do the same thing I did the first two days," he said.

Second-place pro Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wisc., also trolled crankbaits, but he's been fishing alone the past two days and he's expecting to do the same today. Like Balla, he's not at all bothered by the slick water. He's less than a pound behind Graves and is confident he can at least catch a limit. Whether those five will weigh as much as yesterday's giant 46-pound, 6-ounce limit remains to be seen.

The final weigh-in will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be held at the Walmart located at 2826 East Harbor Road in Port Clinton, Ohio. 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  morning-story  2011-05-12-lake-erie 

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