PIERRE, SD -- It was a close, but In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail pro Bill Ortiz, Dodgeville, Wis., claimed a $50,000 first-place finish at the Lowrance Midwest Pro-Am May 10-12 on Lake Sharpe.
In doing so Ortiz proved that consistency pays. It was his first victory and he capped it with a 14.69-pound catch on the final day. Ortiz made the right decisions because a state-regulated slot forced anglers to keep only two walleyes per day over 18 inches; the other four were 15 to 18 inches. Ortiz, a fifth-year pro, has averaged $2,725 in winnings in each of his first four years on tour.
Ortiz trolled Hipple Lake, a backwater of the river just below Pierre and concentrated on the beach area in 6 to 10 feet. He ran bottom bouncers and spinners with Northland Rattle beads on long rods. Several top pros worked the same area with a combination of tactics. The main river by Farm Island was also a popular spot in the 10- to 15-foot depths, where contestants either jigged or trolled crankbaits.
Finishing second at only a pound back at 34.26 pounds was pro Michael Dahl, Fargo, N.D., who weighed one fish less than his tournament limit. He won $15,000. Claiming third and $10,000 was pro Brian Ney, Baudette, Minn. with 33.72 pounds. The winning amateur was Ed Steidler, Bismarck, N.D. He won a 17-foot Lund walleye boat with a 50-horsepower Mercury on an Eagle trailer.
The third day started under gray skies with 10 m.p.h. westerly winds, but by mid-morning a cold front had cleared the skies and winds that had been forecasted for 20- to 35-m.p.h. quickly built to 45 m.p.h. and stronger. About 40 anglers who were 30 to 45 miles down river elected the safe and professional course of action and launched at local access points instead of forcing a three- to five-hour journey in waves as high as six feet. Many anglers decided to fish close because of the forecast.
Advancing the most places from day one to win the $1,000 Coleman Cool Under Pressure award was rookie pro Kevin Merrill, Pierre, S.D. He moved up 85 places. Amateur Greg Abbott, Canton, S.D. advanced 98 places and won $600. The Storm Heavyweight $500 award went to Ortiz. Abbott won a Plano tackle box loaded with $300 of Strom crankbaits for his part of the Storm Heavyweight award. Ortiz also won the T-H Marine Live Release $500 award for releasing the most walleyes of his catch. Overall, more than 92 percent of the 2,063 walleyes weighed were released.
The Bass Pro Shops big fish, 5.79 pounds, on the final day went to amateur Glenn Crose, Marion, Ia. It was the largest of the tournament and paid $2,500. Abbott's 4.56-pounder paid $1,200. Third place went to Bob Allen, Gillette, Wy. with a 2.93 pound walleye and fourth was worth $950 for Tom Sperling, Mandan, N.D. with a 2.91-pounder.
Pierre guide John "Cherokee" Hight was honored with the PWT Key award for his valuable boat patrol work during the event. Rick Jorgenson and Susan Winthers received the PWT Host award for the significant contributions of the Pierre Chamber of Commerce in organizing the Lowrance Midwest Pro-Am.
The next PWT tournament, the second in the Dee Zee Western division, is May 31-June 2 on Lake of the Woods in Baudette, MN.
Name Hometown # of fish Total Wgt. Winnings
1-Bill Ortiz Dodgeville, WI 18 35.18 $50,000
2-Michael Dahl Fargo, ND 17 34.26 $15,000
3-Brian Ney Baudette, MN 18 33.72 $10,000
4-Dan Stier Pierre, SD 18 33.3 $7,500
5-Scott Fairbairn Walker, MN 18 32.12 $5,200
6-Rick LaCourse Oregon, OH 18 31.94 $4,200
7-Robert Crow Peterson, WA 17 31.77 $4,000
8-Gary Roach Merrifield, MN 18 31.56 $3,800
9-Marty Glorvigen Grand Rapids, MN 18 31.38 $3,600
10-Mike Kulm Rapid City, SD 17 31.25 $3,400
11-Larry Mote Burlington, IN 18 30.98 $3,400
12-Barry Walker Big Springs, NE 18 30.79 $3,000
13-David Spaid Pierre, SD 16 30.75 $3,000
14-Ross Grothe Apple Valley, MN 18 30.51 $3,000
15-John Peterson Bemidji, MN 18 30.45 $2,800
16-Curtis Reynolds Royal Oak, MI 18 30.39 $2,800
16-Irv Kraus Powell, WY 18 30.39 $2,800
18-Will Lage Rapid City, SD 18 30.33 $2,700
18-Jim Meder New London, MN 18 30.33 $2,700
20-John Campbell West Dundee, IL 18 30.2 $2,700
21-Tommy Skarlis Waterloo, IA 18 29.85 $2,600
22-Scott Rhodes Traverse City, MI 18 29.82 $2,600
23-Bob Hanson Pequot Lakes, MN 29.73 $2,600
24-Doug Hermanson Mandan, ND 18 29.66 $2,600
25-Mark Courts Harris, MN 18 29.6 $2,600
26-Pete Harsh Sauk Centre, MN 18 29.56 $2,000
27-Daryl Christensen Montello, WI 18 29.45 $2,000
28-Gregg LaMere Gwinn, MI 18 29.39 $2,000
29-Ron Seelhof Lewellen, NE 18 29.32 $2,000
30-Mark Martin Twin Lake, MI 18 29.31 $2,000
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