Some fisherman always seem to know how to get the job done on a certain body of water. Gary Parsons should write a book on how to fish Lake Oahe at Mobridge. S.D.
The veteran walleye pro from Glidden, Wis. won the PWT Western Pro-Am with a three-day of catch of 18 walleyes totaling 31.56 pounds. It was Parson's third victory on the Missouri River reservoir and it paid $63,000. His first two wins came in 1994 and 1998.
The July 30-Aug. 1 tournament was one of the closest in PWT history. In second place, just two-tenths of a pound behind Parsons with 31.33 pounds was Keith Kavacejz, who led the competition after Day One. Tying for third with 31.32 pounds were John Butts and Scott Fairbairn. Behind them in fifth and sixth places, respectively, were Brad Davis with 31.05 pounds and Barry Walker with 31.05 pounds.
Never before in PWT history have the top six places been separated by less than a pound. The extremely tight finish was due to a Lake Oahe slot-limit that allowed anglers to keep four walleyes from 15 to 18 inches and two over 18 inches.
Rich Boggs, Nisswa, placed eighth with 29.48 pounds, making him the highest-placing Minnesotan at the tournament. Other local pros and their place of finish were Ted Takasaki, East Gull Lake, 18th with 26.69 pounds, Bob Hanson, Pequot Lakes, 77th with 14.24 pounds, Jeff Sterriker, Staples, 90th with 11.27 pounds, Kevin Gologowski, Staples, 91st with 11.12 pounds, and Brent Gutzman, Aitkin, 121st with 4.13 pounds.
Competitors dealt with water levels about 25 feet lower than a year ago. The biggest walleyes were found about 30 miles south of Mobridge. Tactics switched from live bait presentations prior to the tournament to trolling crankbaits over submerged trees when the competition began. Shad Raps were the ticket as long as they ran just over the trees. If not it proved costly, as submerged cottonwood trees ate thousands of crankbaits over the three-day event.
"Fortunately for me I stumbled onto the pattern early and was able to fine-tune it," said Parsons, who joins nine other pros with three or more PWT victories. His average check over 69 tournaments is $4,800 and he has 15 top 10 finishes.
On the heels of a recent win at Lake Erie, Walker's Tommy Skarlis picked up $1,000 as the Coleman "Cool Under Pressure" award winner. Skarlis was 109th with 1.21 pounds after the first day, but rebounded to finish 36th with 21.34 pounds.
The Gander Mountain "Heavyweight" award, which goes to the pro who weighs the heaviest single-day catch, was split between Kavajecz and Davis, who both weighed a catch of 12.21 pounds. Kavajecz' catch came on Day One while Davis weighed his on Day Three. The Miller "Big Fish" award was taken by Kavajecz, who brought a 5.34 pounder to the scales.
Kevin Madigan, Yuma, Ariz., was the top amateur.
The Western Pro-Am was the final West Division tournament of the 2003 season. The top 10 pros in the division are invited to the PWT Championship, Sept. 12-14 at Houghton, Mich. They are Ross Grothe, Northfield, Barry Walker, Big Springs, Neb., Rich Boggs, Nisswa, John Butts, Kenora, Ont., David Andersen, Amery, Wis., Terry Ryckman, Toledo, Ore., Myron Sylte, Williston, N.D., Jeff Zbasnik, Hazen, N.D., Mark Christianson, Walker, and Dale Gilbert, Ulm, Mont.
The 10 East Division qualifiers will be known after the PWT's final '03 qualifier, scheduled for Aug. 22-24 at Lake Michigan's Bay de Noc.
In the race for Angler of the Year, bestowed on the angler who scores the most points over all qualifying tournaments, Keith Kavajecz leads with 399.87 points. In second with 396.14 is John Bergsma of Walker, Mich. Skarlis is 21st with 316.55 and Takasaki is 28th with 294.67.
Hanson wraps up his season in 32nd place in the West Division with 155.59 points. Sterriker finished 35th with 150.20, Gutzman 52nd with 129.02 in his rookie season, and Goligowski is 55th with 111.46.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.