UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Norman

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Kavajecz’s big-fish blitz

Mercury pro Keith Kavajecz of Kaukauna, Wis., brought in five walleyes weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces Thursday to lead day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River.

BISMARCK, N.D. - He may be a first-year FLW Walleye Tour pro, but make no mistake - Keith Kavajecz is far from a rookie. The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer from Kaukauna, Wis., took a commanding lead on day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River with five walleyes weighing a staggering 26 pounds, 12 ounces.

The Mercury pro - fresh off a runner-up finish in August at the Walleye Tour event on Lake Oahe - will carry a 5-pound, 6-ounce lead into day two. Though he said he didn't think he would catch such a big bag today, he has confidence that his sweet spot about 25 miles downriver from the takeoff site at Hazelton Campground and Access Area will replenish Friday.

"I do believe I can do it again," he said. "I just kind of went river fishing."

Kavajecz's biggest problem could be fishing pressure. He said he was fishing near about 15 other boats Thursday, but the herd thinned to about eight boats or so later in the day. Part of the glut likely includes some of his pro practice partners and fellow Wisconsinites like walleye legend Gary Parsons (Kavajecz's father-in-law, currently 13th), Chase Parsons (Gary's son and Lake Oahe champion, currently ninth) and Tom Kemos (currently 11th).

"It's close quarters ... but they are real civil guys in there," he said, adding that one of the things he believes he is doing differently is holding tight when his Lowrance HDS 10 shows fish on the sharp break that drops from about 10 to 30 feet of water. "One of the important keys is I watch my electronics really closely for moving fish. I'm basically sitting in an area ... I stay on them."

Not only is the honeyhole crowded with anglers, but so is the water column. Kavajecz said the walleyes are aggressive when they do bite, but so are the "tons of white bass" he has to weed through to fill his livewell with marble eyes.

Kavajecz reported catching his fish by vertically jigging Berkley Gulp Minnows (not live bait).

Gilman switches up for second
OFF! pro Chris Gilman of Chisago City, Minn., placed second on day two of the FLW Walleye Tour Championship with five walleyes weighing 21 pounds, 6 ounces.
OFF! pro Chris Gilman of Chisago City, Minn., is off to a good start defending his 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship title with a five-walleye limit worth 21-6. However, he had to leave behind the area that was so productive for Kavejecz and others to make his move on day one.

"I fished there until 11 o'clock, but I left there with one fish," he said. "Then I put a whole lot of miles on the boat running upriver."

Clearly the move was the right choice for Gilman, also a former FLW Walleye Tour Angler of the Year.

"I've been doing a lot of things ... vertically jigging in that sweet spot where Kavajecz is," he said, "and trolling crankbaits in shallow water."

Most of Gilman's weigh fish today came from cranking in depths of 6 to 8 feet.

Stier settles in at third

Just 2 ounces behind Gilman with five walleyes weighing 21-4 is Dan Stier of Mina, S.D. He said he was fishing near Kavajecz downriver.

"There were eight to 10 of us in one little area - a break," said the EverStart pro, who recently won a regional event in the area. "You've got to capitalize when you get bites. You have to pay close attention to your electronics."

Stier reported catching his walleyes in 16 to 23 feet of water, fishing vertically with a jig and smelt-based plastics, letting it "hit bottom and then ripping it up." He said he worked up and down the break, adjusting quickly when a wave of walleyes would swim through, coming from the backs of bays.

Fourth is Good
4th place: Mercury pro Perry Good of Minnetrista, Minn., and co-angler Dave Barrett of Mosinee, Wis., five walleyes, 20-2.
Pro Perry Good of Minnetrista, Minn., weighed a five-walleye limit for 20-2 and fourth place on day one.

"We had nice days and bad days ... we had that little hurricane that blew through," the Mercury pro said of his practice on the Missouri River. "Today was a good day - we didn't lose any fish."

Good said he was fishing "right next to" Kavajecz on an "inside turn with some rocks on it" about 24 miles downriver from the takeoff site. He was vertically jigging with Trigger X soft baits, primarily white in color, on VMC hooks, chartreuse and green.

Skarlis fifth
5th: Evinrude pro Tommy Skarlis of Waukon, Iowa, and co-angler Don Shepard of Lowell, Mich., five walleyes, 19-13.
Evinrude pro Tommy Skarlis held the fifth-place position after day one with five walleyes weighing 19-13.

Like Gilman, The Waukon, Iowa, angler is a past FLW Walleye Tour Championship winner. Skarlis earned the title on the Missouri River here at Bismarck, N.D., in 2008, so there's little doubt he will be one to watch as championship action continues this week.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River:

6th: Richard Zachowski of Milwaukee, Wis., five walleyes, 17 pounds, 14 ounces
7th: Walmart pro Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, Wis., five walleyes, 17-13
7th: National Guard pro Bill Shimota of Lonsdale, Minn., five walleyes, 17-13
9th: Chase Parsons of Brillion, Wis., five walleyes, 17-9
10th: Kevin Carstensen of Merrill, Wis., five walleyes, 16-3

Mickish on top in Co-angler Division
Co-angler John Mickish of White Bear Lake, Minn., brought in five walleyes weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces Thursday to lead day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River.
Third-year FLW Walleye Tour co-angler John Mickish of White Bear Lake, Minn., fished with Kavejecz on day one to secure his spot atop his division with a weight of 26 pounds, 12 ounces. He will also carry a 5-pound, 6-ounce lead into day two.

Mickish is already on a course to have the best year of his FLW fishing career, having finished the season ranked 19th in the Co-angler Division. If he makes the top-20 cut tomorrow, it will be the first time he has fished in the finals in an FLW Outdoors event.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Missouri River:

2nd: Todd Dankert of Anoka, Minn., five walleyes, 21 pounds, 6 ounces
3rd: Tim Depooter of Rock Island, Ill., five walleyes, 21-4
4th: Dave Barrett of Mosinee, Wis., five walleyes, 20-2
5th: Don Shepard of Lowell, Mich., five walleyes, 19-13
6th: Jimmy Cox of Bono, Ark., five walleyes, 17-14
7th: Lance Bainville of Mounds View, Minn., five walleyes, 17-13
7th: Brian Boelter of Colgate, Wis., five walleyes, 17-13
9th: Craig Cayemberg of Valders, Wis., five walleyes, 17-9
10th: Tyrone Larson of Amherst, Wis., five walleyes, 16-3

Overall there were 184 walleyes weighing 525 pounds, 15 ounces caught by the pros and co-anglers fishing in the 40-boat championship field Thursday. The catch included 33 five-walleye limits.

Anglers will take off from Hazelton Camp Ground and Access Area located 31 miles southeast of Bismarck on Highway 1804 at 8 a.m. Friday for the second day of championship action. The day-two weigh-in will be held at the Bismarck Civic Center located at 315 S. 5th St. in Bismarck beginning at 5 p.m.

Tags: patrick-baker  headline-story  2011-09-22-missouri-river 

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