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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Rigger's paradise

Rigger's paradise
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures greeted FLW Walleye Tour anglers Thursday morning.

WALKER, Minn. - After commencing the year with a trollfest on Lake Erie, the second stop on the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour takes place on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota. While trolling is once again an option, Leech Lake is known around walleye circles as a rigger's paradise.

Despite its given name, most anglers prefer to use large minnows, such as red-tails and creek chubs, with 6-foot leaders on Leech Lake. They dangle these minnows over rock piles, points and off-shore Rigging with big minnows is extremely effective on Leech Lake. structure until they cross a toothy walleye. Experienced riggers can oftentimes anticipate a bite simply by monitoring a minnow's behavior. If the minnow suddenly freaks out, you can safely assume a predator is nearby. Once a bite is detected, the angler then begins feeding line. Seconds later, after the fish has chewed a bit, a sweeping hook set completes the process.

This progression will take place hundreds of times today on Leech Lake. In early June, the walleye fishing in northern Minnesota is almost always good. But finding the right fish, due to a strict slot limit, is difficult. The state-enacted slot prohibits anglers from keeping walleyes 18 to 26 inches in length. Anglers are allowed to keep two walleyes over 26 inches; any other legal fish must be between 14 and 18 inches in length. Upgrading is allowed except for the two fish over 26 inches.

"I think getting overs is easier now than it was last fall during the championship," said National Guard Pro Bill Shimota and co-angler Randy Kuchenmeister make final preparations before Thursdaypro Bill Shimota. "It's just that time of the year. The thing is, the fish over 26 are so skinny. You do occasionally run into a fat one, but most of the overs only weigh about 5 1/2 pounds."

Shimota said he expects to see a handful of weights in the teens today.

"There will be guys that come in with two overs today. They're there, but you still have to work for them."

Many of those overs will come from Walker Bay, a noted big-fish area on the west side of the lake. But the main lake also reportedly kicked out several big fish in practice.

Red Wing, Minn., pro Eric Olson believes the bite should be better, but the recent inconsistent weather has the fish confused. Walleyes that were as shallow as 8 feet three days ago scattered deeper as the high temperature was in the 90s for two consecutive days. Although it will be chilly at times during the tournament, the right amount of wind is forecasted.Eric Olson believes the bite is slightly off due to inconsistent weather.

"Leech is a wind-driven lake, there's no doubt about it. Today's steady east wind should be really good."

In addition to rigging, casting jigs and trolling spinners or crankbaits will be popular. One wildcard in this tournament is a baitfish spawn. If the shiners start making beds this week, the walleyes will quickly follow in search of an easy meal.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Walker City Park located at Highway 371 in Walker at 7 each morning. Weigh-ins will also be held at the Walker City Park on Thursday and Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Northern Lights Casino located at 6800 Y Frontage Road in Walker beginning at 4 p.m. Prior to the final weigh-in, there will be a free Family Fishing Clinic where children can win free rod and reels, plus other great giveaways. Fans will have the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, ride a Ranger boat simulator, enjoy interactive games, activities, and learn more about the sport of fishing during the FLW Outdoors Expo. All activities are free and open to the public.

Pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day and fish for a combined boat weight. Pros compete FLW Walleye Tour anglers make their way to boat check Thursday morning.against other pros, and co-anglers compete against other co-anglers. The full field competes during the two-day opening round for one of 10 final-round slots based on their accumulated weight. Weights carry over to day three, with the winners determined by the heaviest three-day weight.

In FLW Walleye Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2011 FLW Walleye Tour Championship held on the Missouri River in Bismarck, N.D., Sept. 22-25.

Anglers are also vying for the coveted Angler of the Year title, which secures them a place in the 2012 Walleye Tour Championship, as well as $10,000 for the pro and $2,500 for the co-angler.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:23 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 51 degrees
Expected high temperature: 65 degrees
Water temperature: 62-65 degrees
Wind: ENE at 13 mph
Maximum humidity: 49 percent
Day's outlook: partly cloudy

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2011-06-09-leech-lake 

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