UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Graves grabs FLW Walleye Tour title on Lake Erie

Lake Erie National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event winner Jeff Graves was planning on fishing as a co-angler until his friends coaxed him into entering as a pro. Good thing he listened.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - Note to Jeff Graves' friends: Ask him to buy you dinner. The Chagrin Falls, Ohio, angler was planning on entering the Lake Erie National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event as a co-angler, but his friends coaxed him into fishing on the professional side. It's a good thing Graves listened.

"I didn't know what I was getting into. I just kind of did this on a whim. This is a big-name event with some very talented anglers and I didn't think I could hang with the big boys," he said.

It only took one tournament, but Graves can count himself among those big boys. He weighed a 34-pound, 13-ounce limit today for a three-day total of 117 pounds, 6 ounces. It was enough to take home the first-place trophy and a check for $50,000.

He did virtually the same thing as the rest of the pack - trolling crankbaits. In fact, he was fishing the same general area the past three days that included an estimated 100 boats yesterday. Heavy fog blanketed Erie for much of the day today, making it impossible to count the traffic, but Graves said it seemed just as crowded.

"We'd be trolling along and all the sudden there's a boat right in front of you. My partner was real good at pulling in the lures so we could avoid getting tangled," he recalled.

Along with a capable partner, Graves figures the key to his victory was a combination of subtle ingredients that helped him weigh 15 fish over three days that averaged nearly 8 pounds.

"I was trolling 800 Series Reef Runners in copperhead and raspberry dolphin that dove to about 28 feet. I didn't use any weight but I did a lot of zig-zagging. All of my bites were coming on the turns," said Graves, who boated seven fish throughout the day.

Keenan comes up just short

Despite three five-fish limits, including the heaviest sack of the tournament, Tom Keenan placed second.Tom Keenan also brought in a strong limit. It weighed 34 pounds, 8 ounces, putting him just a pound and an ounce behind Graves with a three-day total of 116 pounds, 5 ounces. Keenan, however, had what could have been the winning walleye in his hands. He figured the fish weighed an estimated 8 pounds, which possibly would have bumped his weight up by the pound he needed to win.

"It was foul-hooked, so I had to throw it back," he said.

Keenan's co-angler partner, Daniel Leach of Linwood, Mich., said Keenan didn't think twice about returning the fish to the water. Ironically, the fish would have helped Leach win the Co-angler Division. He ended up in second, as well.

"Tom's got to be the most honest man in the world. He could have put the fish in the box and maybe won the tournament, but he immediately threw it back," said Leach.

While most of the top-10 finalists shared the same water with a throng of other boats all three days, Keenan found his own water. He fished with the crowd early today and caught a quick limit, but went hunting for big fish by himself. While most of the anglers were concerned about finding clearer water, Keenan wanted dirty water.

"The dirtier the better. As long as I could find the right combination of temperature and color and I marked fish, I knew I could catch them," he said.

Although Keenan ended up catching 15 walleye today, he just couldn't get anything over the 7-pound mark, except, of course, for the one that was foul-hooked.

"I'm extremely disappointed. I've placed second in tournaments the last three out of four years, so I was really hoping for a win today," he said.

Despite his disappointment, he didn't make any bad decisions and he didn't lose a single fish that bit today. It was, he admits, just the way goes with professional walleye fishing. In fact, he caught more walleyes today than the past two days combined. Most of the fish came on Reef Runner crankbaits he pulled at speeds between 1.8 and 2.2 miles per hour. The biggest fish, including those that helped give him the heaviest limit of the tournament yesterday at 46 pounds, 6 ounces, came when he made wide "S" turns. The lures on the outside bends seemed to catch the most fish.

Keenan motioned to the trophy presented to Graves and said the handsome walleye statue will serve as a motivation for the next tournament. Although he won't be taking home the trophy this time, Keenan walked away with $22,500, which includes a $1,000 Ranger Cup bonus and a $6,500 engine bonus.

Day-one leader Danny Steffens slipped to fourth after the second day, but moved up to third place overall today. He'll take home $11,000, which includes a $1,000 Ranger Cup bonus. He also caught a limit. It weighed 34 pounds, 6 ounces. All of his fish came on trolled Reef Runner crankbaits.

Best of the rest

Fourth-place angler John Balla of Bartlett, Illinois took home $11,500, including a $1,000 Ranger Cup bonus and a $2,500 engine bonus after catching 98 pounds, 11 ounces. Shawn Ritchie of Ohio placed fifth with 94-8 which earned him $7,000. Sixth-place pro Scott Geitgey, also of Ohio, took home $6,000 after weighing 94-4 over three days. Mark Brumbaugh placed seventh, followed by Keith Kavajecz of Wisconsin. Michigan angler Jeff Vereeke came in ninth and Mark Gwizdala rounded out the top-10 pros.

Szymczak wins Co-angler Division

Co-angler champion Ed Szymczak walked away with a victory after fishing in his first-ever FLW Walleye Tour event.Ed Szymczak won the co-angler side, taking home a check for $6,000. The Osceola, Ind., angler credits his pros, including Jeff Graves, for his win.

"Jeff and I worked as a team. We really gelled. He was just a great individual to fish with," said Scymczak, who was also fishing his first FLW Walleye Tour event. "The whole experience was incredible. I had three great pros. All of them were fun to fish and very professional."

Daniel Leach of Michigan placed second in the co-angler division, followed by Todd Rairigh, Tim Depooter, John Speigel and Mike Taylor, who came in sixth. Jim Milewsky of Iowa took seventh. Tyrone Larson came in eighth, followed by Mike Bentz and Dale Janota of Wyoming.

The next National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event is scheduled to take place June 9-11 at Leech Lake in Walker, Minn.

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

Duarte Covers Ground for Second W

Duarte Covers Ground for Second W

John Duarte of Middle River, Maryland, caught five bass Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 8 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division season opener on Lake Hartwell presented by Navionics. For his win, Duarte earned $4,396. READ MORE »

Stevens Drops 32-10 on Big O

Stevens Drops 32-10 on Big O

Kail Stevens of Boynton Beach, Florida, caught a massive five-bass limit Saturday weighing 32 pounds, 10 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee. Stevens took home $4,766 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Aaron Plays Current for G-Ville Win

Aaron Plays Current for G-Ville Win

Chad Aaron of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, caught five bass Saturday weighing 25 pounds, 14 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division season opener on Lake Guntersville presented by Navionics. For his win, Aaron earned $4,363. READ MORE »

Montevallo Wins on Seminole

Montevallo Wins on Seminole

The University of Montevallo duo of Justin Barnes of Monroeville, Alabama, and Adam Carroll of Carrollton, Georgia, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake Seminole Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce. The victory earned the Falcon’s bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Mount Paran Christian School wins on Seminole

Mount Paran Christian School wins on Seminole

The Mount Paran Christian School duo of Lee Rose Koza and Carter Koza, both of Marietta, Georgia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 23 pounds, 2 ounces to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Seminole Open. READ MORE »

Anders Chases Shad for Keowee W

Anders Chases Shad for Keowee W

Boater Joe Anders of Easley, South Carolina, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River division event on Lake Keowee presented by Navionics. Anders earned $4,164 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Toho Day 4 Coverage

Toho Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage of the 2019 Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla. READ MORE »

Gross Wins Second Tour Title

Gross Wins Second Tour Title

Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Ga., won the 2019 FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats at Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla., with a four-day total of 20 bass that weighed 85 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

Gross Grabs Toho Lead

Gross Grabs Toho Lead

Day three of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho was tough on the leaders, but Buddy Gross stayed steady, rising to first from fifth with 19 pounds, 12 ounces. In total, Gross has amassed 62 pounds even through three days, which is just about a pound ahead of Darrell Davis, who caught 25-12 for a 60-15 total and rocketed up to second from 13th. Going into the final day, everyone in the top six is within 5 pounds of the lead, and the way the Kissimmee Chain is pumping out big ones, that counts as the slimmest of margins. READ MORE »

Toho Day 3 Coverage

Toho Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage of the 2019 Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla. READ MORE »

Cox Stays Ahead on Toho

Cox Stays Ahead on Toho

Day two of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger on Lake Toho featured not one, but TWO 10-pounders, one caught by Casey Scanlon and the other by Jamie Horton. READ MORE »

Toho Day 2 Coverage

Toho Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage of the 2019 Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla. READ MORE »

Cox Leads Toho Slugfest

Cox Leads Toho Slugfest

Day one of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho was the slugfest many expected. Leading the way is sight-fishing extraordinaire John Cox, who caught 31 pounds, 9 ounces and the day one big bass – a giant that went 10-9.  In second, John Voyles wrangled up 24-15, and Scott Martin is close behind him with 24-12. READ MORE »

Toho Day 1 Coverage

Toho Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage of the 2019 Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Toho

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Toho

Weigh-ins at the FLW Tour Lake Toho event will be broadcast daily at 3 p.m. ET days one and two and 4 p.m ET days three and four. The studio broadcast, with live in-the-boat streaming, airs Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. with hosts Travis Moran and Peter T. READ MORE »

Thliveros Brings it Home

Thliveros Brings it Home

Nick Thliveros led after day two on Okeechobee and after weighing his lowest weight of the week, he was able to seal the deal for his first Costa FLW Series win as a pro. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Fishing as a whole is still tough on the Big O, but there was definitely an improvement today – especially for the guys at the top of the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Nick Thliveros is one day away from taking the title in the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Things are tough on Okeechobee, but these pros cracked some of the code to wrangle solid catches. READ MORE »

Roder Out Front on Big O

Roder Out Front on Big O

Okeechobee is normally the place of dreams. This week, however, it isn’t quite living up to its reputation. Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on the Big O saw plenty of fish, though the quality bites were hard to come by. Troy Roder of Brookeland, Texas, set the pace early with a 19-pound, 15-ounce limit to grab the lead in the season opener – presented by Power-Pole – with a lead of over 4 pounds heading into Friday. READ MORE »