NWT Insider Report: Slugfest Expected at Walleye Fishing Super Bowl

Category: Tournament

18 seconds ago by sworrall

Amended August 19, 2022 at 2:47 PM

DUNKIRK, NY – The top 40 professional walleye anglers in the world are busy training for the 2022 National Walleye Tour Championship, presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Hosted by the City of Dunkirk, the most lucrative walleye fishing event takes place on legendary Lake Erie, known as the walleye capital of the world. The three-day event, which has no pro entry fee, begins August 24. Although many pros are new to the eastern basin of Erie, they have now received a few days of on-water experience.

Kevin McQuoid currently leads the Lucas Oil Angler of the Year race with 717 points. McQuoid has had four days on the water, and he’s been impressed with what he’s seen.

“Erie is not going to disappoint,” said the Bass Pro Shops and the Cabela pro. “There’s a lot of fish in the system right now, but there’s also a lot of bait. With the right combination, they are quite willing (to bite). For angler of the year, I don’t have to win the tournament, but I have to do on day three. If I’m in the top 10, mathematically they can’t catch me.

McQuoid reported water temperatures of 73 or 74 degrees, which is warm for such a massive Great Lake.

“With the warmer water, the fish are definitely deeper. It’s just different from a spring event in Erie. With high metabolisms, they move around and feed a lot.

McQuoid predicted the 40 pros will have five-fish limits.

“We catch 6 and 7 pounds, but there are a lot of 4 to 4 1/2 pounds. I think there will be a lot of guys in that 25-pound bracket, and I think 27 pounds a day will get you into that top 10.”

McQuoid also reported that there was a bit more structure in the Eastern Erie Basin. He spent a day sampling it with slip bait, but was largely unsuccessful.

“I’m comfortable trolling in open water, but a touch of structure is possible. There is also the possibility of a shallow spinner puncture. You might not get as many bites, but it could be the key to catching bigger fish. That’s what scares me right now. Can you catch kickers when it counts? All in all a great walleye fishing. I would like to thank the City of Dunkirk. They welcomed us with open arms; it’s a fun place.

Behind McQuoid by 11 points is Max Wilson, the winner of the 2018 NWT Championship on Lake of the Woods. Wilson prefers a six-day prefish so only spent one day surveying the deeper eastern basin.

“There are so many fish in this system,” the Blackfish pro said. “Sometimes today was really fun, but I’m just not a troll. I can troll, but it’s a whole different world of trolling. This extreme deep trolling style is so different. It’s more like salmon fishing.

Overall, Wilson was happy with the first day.

“It took me about 2 hours before I started dialing the number and then we caught a good number. First I wanted to take a look at a new body of water. Second I wanted to locate a few schools and have an idea for trolling. I didn’t have a crazy weight, but we did it. I have some confidence, and now it’s time to start developing and building on that.

Wilson has built a solid reputation as a jigger who skillfully uses forward-looking sonar.

“I’ve looked at a few structural elements and will try again eventually. A jigging bite could be had; a lot of that depends on the weather. A lot of that structure is complete on the Canadian side which is long term. If it’s hard, it’s just not doable.

Like McQuoid, Wilson envisions many bags around 25 pounds.

“This 9-pound kicker will get you into the 28 or 29-pound range.”

In third place, just one point behind Wilson, is Duane “Dewey” Hjelm. The native of Pierre, SD won the fourth qualifying game of the season in Green Bay. Earlier this month he also won the Bass Pro Shops and the Cabela National Team Championship on Lake Oahe with Tyson Keller. He’s had 2 1/2 days of practice on Erie so far.

“There are fish literally everywhere,” the Dakota Lithium pro said. “It seems like most fish are very deep, and you can go just about anywhere and catch fish. I’m still trying to figure it out, and the biggest problem is finding the biggest fish. Today It was very windy today and they didn’t even ask for a lot of wind, to be honest I didn’t accomplish much today.

Hjelm, arguably the hottest stick in the sport, reported his biggest walleye in practice so far was 26 inches tall and weighed around 6 pounds.

“I believe in momentum, and I’ve made good decisions, but I’m not onto anything crazy. One thing I’ve learned about Lake Erie is that it can make you feel incredibly small. I’m going to work hard for the next four or five days. It’s definitely going to be a shootout.

The first prize in the championship is a Ranger 620FS Deep V boat with a Mercury 250 XL Pro XS worth $89,995 + $30,000, with second place winning a Ranger 2080MS with a Mercury 250 XL Pro XS worth of $76,995 + $15,000. The top prize for co-anglers is a Ranger VS1882 Angler worth $44,995 + $6,000.

Fishermen will take off each day at 7 a.m. Eastern Time from the Chadwick Bay Marina holiday port, located at 30 Central Avenue in Dunkirk. Daily weigh-ins will take place at Dunkerque Pier, located at 2 Central Avenue, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The open field fishes each of the first two days, with the first 10 moving to the third and final day. The winner of each division is determined by the heaviest cumulative weight.

The public is invited to attend the daily weigh-ins, and there will be a fishing clinic for children after the weigh-in on August 25. Prior to the tournament, a community meeting is scheduled for August 21 at 5 p.m. at the grounds between the Clarion and the Tim Hortons where anglers will have the chance to show off their boats and answer questions.

The National Walleye Tour includes four regular season events and a championship with no entry fee. Pros compete against other pros and co-fishermen compete against other co-fishermen. For more information on tournament rules and payouts, visit www.nationalwalleyetour.com.

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