BISMARCK, N.D. -- In nine years on the Professional Walleye Trail, Mike Gofron had won every title but one: PWT champion. On Saturday, Sept. 15, before a cheering crowd of 6,000 at the Bismarck Civic Center, the Antioch, Ill. angler added that elusive title to his list of achievements when he topped a field of 40 other pros at the PWT championship on the Missouri River.
Gofron's three-day total of 15 walleyes weighing 27.49 pounds was good for $100,000 and pushed his career PWT earnings to more than $300,000. The winning presentation was a Buck-Shot rattling jig tipped with fathead minnows. Gofron fished the Porcupine Creek area in 18 to 22 feet.
"Going through numbers and making the right decisions about which ones to keep made the difference," said Gofron, who last year finished third at the championship.
In second place was two-time PWT champion Ron Seelhoff, who salvaged a tough year on the trail with a typically strong showing on the Missouri River. In six regular-season tournaments this year Seelhoff had managed to finish in the money just once, and that was a 40th place on the Missouri River at Lake Francis Case, South Dakota. But when the big cash is on the line the veteran pro from Burlington, Colo. must always be contended with. This year he missed winning his third straight championship by just 1.24 pounds when he weighed 15 fish at 26.26 pounds. He took home a $30,000 Lund/Mercury boat package and now has two firsts, three seconds and a fifth in the last six championships.
In third was Tom Backer, Fargo, N.D. with 25.80 pounds. Bill St Peter was fourth (25.28) and caught a 5.33-pounder, the biggest fish of the third and final day. Daryl Christensen, who placed eighth overall with 24.48 pounds, caught a 6.23 pound walleye on Day Two, the largest fish of the tournament.
Locally, Ted Takasaki finished 21st with 22.46 pounds. Other Minnesota anglers of note included Scott Fairbairn, Walker, who was 12th with 24.01 pounds, Tommy Skarlis, Walker, who was 33rd with 18.74 pounds, and Pete Harsh, Sauk Centre, was was 44th with 10.07 pounds.
Special awards went to Bill St. Peter, Bay City, Mich., for the largest one-day catch, 11.16 pounds. For advancing 26 places on the final day Seelhoff and St Peter tied for the "Coleman Cool Under Pressure" award.
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