UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Hartwell

Peters puts on clinic in Pierre

Peters puts on clinic in Pierre
Pro Darrell Peters leads the field at the start of the FLW Walleye Tour on Oahe.

PIERRE, S.D. - Pro Darrell Peters took the lead early on during the day-one weigh-in of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Oahe with five fish weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces. Nearly three hours later after all 226 anglers had weighed their walleyes, he was still on top with 2 pounds and an ounce to spare.

Peters gets his mail in Slayton, Minn. - where he also works as a 911 dispatcher for the Murray County Sheriff's Department for most of the year - but he lives on Oahe over the summer, working as a guide at fellow Walleye Tour pro Terry Nelson's West Prairie Resort at Bush's Landing. As an interesting aside for the Pro Division, Nelson currently sits in 13th place, his brother Derek Nelson is in 17th (despite engine problems), and resort guest Tommy Skarlis is the tourney's current runner-up position - and none of them have conferred with one another about tourney strategies, according to Terry Nelson.

It's possible Peters is driven by the spirit of vindication this year, as he solidly held down the second-place slot after day one on Oahe in June 2010 only to falter on day two. But what's certain is that he unlocked the riddle of the overs Thursday, offering the crowd a look at a hefty 29-incher to anchor his sack. (Tournament rules on Oahe allow a pro and his co-angler partner to keep eight fish on the day, weighing their best five for a shared weight, with all walleyes having to measure at least 14 inches with only two over 20 inches; the tricky part is culling is not allowed.)

"I'm just targeting suspending fish with crankbaits," Peters said, adding that he found pods of walleyes suspended over deep water (up to 120 feet) during practice and has been catching them in water 15 to 30 feet deep.

Peters said he and his day-one partner - Jeff Sass of Waupun, Wis., who leads the Co-angler Division with the same weight - were running "a simple crankbait pattern" and had all their weigh fish by 9 a.m. To add insult to the injury of the portion of the 113-boat field that struggled slightly in today's blustery, hot conditions, he said they threw about eight overs back on the day.

"Jeff reeled in every fish," Peters said. "He did a great job. I just said, `Keep a close eye on the planer boards, and don't stop reeling until I got `em in the net.' I couldn't have had a better partner."

Peters said they fished three of the four areas he scouted for the tournament between Okobojo Point and the Little Bend area, adding that he will return to those spots tomorrow and that he believes his pattern and locations will hold out. Trolling "speed is the No. 1 key," according to Peters, and crankbait style and color is important, though he understandably did not want to divulge those trade secrets so early in the tournament.

"During practice, they have been in still water ... but today they were higher up in the water column," he said. "The wind brought them up."

While Peters is standing tall in the Pro Division figuratively, he is a paraplegic who fishes from his wheelchair, which clearly does not impede his angling abilities one iota. The story behind his physical disability is both tragic and inspiring.

Peters was struck by a drunken driver while riding his bike as a 6-year-old in a small Minnesota town with his brother, who was also struck and knocked off a bridge into water. Peters was dragged for roughly a quarter-mile, unnoticed by the impaired driver, who eventually turned around and went back to the bridge to help pull Peters' brother - who also survived - from the water. Fortunately, Peters does not remember sustaining the injuries that left him without the use of his legs.

Clearly no stranger to adversity, Peters said he and his pattern will welcome the even windier conditions called for in tomorrow's forecast for Lake Oahe.
Former FLW Walleye Tour Championship winner Tommy Skarlis is the current runner-up on Lake Oahe.
Skarlis second

Pro Tommy Skarlis of Waukon, Iowa, registered his lone Walleye Tour win to the monetary tune of $150,000 at the championship in Bismarck, N.D., in 2008, and after today he is on pace to qualify for the season-ending championship at the same location in September of this year. Skarlis currently sits in 26th place in the Walleye Tour standings, needing a top-40 ranking to qualify in 2011, and his current second-place standing at Oahe bodes well for a championship berth.

Skarlis sacked five walleyes for 19-8 today, also giving co-angler partner Randy Rock of Brandon, S.D., a runner-up finish on the day. The pro, sometimes called Hollywood on tour for his gift of gab, said he fished "four different tactics" Thursday and logged 58 miles of water travel to attain his catch, but gave much credit to his co-angler.

"I had a partner today that was phenomenal," Skarlis said. "His name is Randy Rock, and he rocked it."

Rock, a first-time FLW Walleye Tour competitor, reeled in the pair's catch today and was quick to return the compliment, saying, "This is my first time doing this, and Tommy was an awesome coach."

The pair headed toward the dam from the Spring Creek launch site this morning and then went "way up north ... 25 to 30 miles I suppose," according to Rock, to catch their weigh fish that they caught "off and on all day long."

"The big ones came first thing this morning," Rock said, adding that they worked the rest of the day to try to catch quality slot fish. "We must've had a dozen different crankbaits on today, and they all caught at least one fish."

Skarlis said their "plethora of baits" included different kinds of Rapala crankbaits, Berkley Flicker Shads and a Salmo. He added that a key for fishing in the wind was the ability to troll "all day long with my Evinrude E-TEC 250" outboard.

"We had to really struggle to get our slots (in this case, quality walleyes longer than 14 inches, but shorter than 20)," Skarlis said, adding that they probably only kept one such fish every two hours.

Maher banks 30-incher for third

Pro Gary Maher of Monoken, N.D., fished with co-angler Christopher Hanson of New Hope, Minn., for a five-walleye shared weight of 18-10, leaving each angler in third place in their respective divisions after day one.

"We put some miles on today, but we weren't fishing terribly far away (from Spring Creek)," said Maher, who was predictably tight-lipped about the location and method they used to land a 30-inch lunker walleye that weighed about 10 pounds and anchored their sack. "Our seven overs came pretty easy ... but we spent a lot of time lookin' for our slot fish."

Maher offered that they did "a little bit of everything," including trolling crankbaits and live-bait rigging in anywhere from 5 to 30 feet of water to land their catch.

"The wind helped," he said.

Added Hanson: "A lot of pros hand off rods. We just went with reeling in whatever was on our side of the boat. So I netted that big one; it was a little nerve-racking."

Deffner fourth

Pro Brian Deffner of Eland, Wis., and well-known chef and co-angler Dale Janota of Gillette, Wyo., combined for a five-walleye weigh limit worth 18-1 and fourth place.

"We got our fish early, by 10 a.m.," said Deffner, adding that they fished a "high-traffic area, trying to zig when everyone else zagged."

Since Deffner is holding his technique and location cards close to the vest this early in the event, it is hard to tell the difference in his approach since he allowed that they were trolling crankbaits and live-bait rigging like almost everyone else in the field. However, he said they fished "actually pretty shallow and fast."

Handel's fifth
Pro Scott Handel of Chamberlain, S.D., is in fifth after day one on Lake Oahe.
Ending the day in fifth place were pro Scott Handel of Chamberlain, S.D., and co-angler Dewey Stewart of Pawnee, Ill., with five walleyes for 17-13.

"We're fishing here - close," Handel said. "We're not getting a lot of bites ... we were working really hard for everything we got today."

They trolled crankbaits at speeds varying greatly from .5 all the way up to 2.5 mph. Stewart said they caught fish "all throughout the water column" and had to deploy drift socks to counteract the effects of the wind.

Of their fast and slow, shallow and deep day, Handel said, "It was kind of a jack-in-the-box presentation."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the remainder of the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers, respectively, after day one at Lake Oahe:

6th: Keith Kavajecz, Kaukauna, Wis., and Robert Cardenas, Gem Lake, Minn., five walleyes, 17-10
7th: Tom Kemos, Oconomowoc, Wis., and John Kopcok, Belle River, Ontario, five walleyes, 17-7
8th: Joe McCartin, Land O Lakes, Wis., and Dave Keyser, Oak Lawn, Ill., five walleyes, 17-6
9th: Chase Parsons, Brillion, Wis., and Cody Lauer, Rapid City, S.D., five walleyes, 17-3
10th: Matt Lyon, Pierre, S.D., and Allan Frevert, Pocahontas, Iowa, five walleyes, 16-15

Tournament details

Anglers will take off from Spring Creek Resort & Deep Water Marina located at 28229 Spring Creek Place in Pierre at 7 each morning. The day-two weigh-in will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 1730 N. Garfield in Pierre beginning at 4 p.m. Prior to the final weigh-in, FLW Outdoors, in conjunction with the NPAA, will host a free Family Fishing Clinic, where children can receive 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 and activities, and learn more about the sport of fishing. All activities are free and open to the public.

This week's tournament is hosted by the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce.

For complete tournament details and updated information regarding associated events, visit Walleye Tour at Lake Oahe home.

On the Web

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Walleye Tour on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWWalleyeTour and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.

Tags: patrick-baker  headline-story  2011-08-25-lake-oahe 

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