Representin' in the River
Written by Clark Allen - Educated Angler Field Staff   
Monday, 30 April 2007 18:03

BFG and Duckdude Representin’ 

I have fished a bunch of tournaments over the last ten years, both for walleye and salmon, with minimal success save a First Place finish with Trollinator at the May Wisconsin Salmon Unlimited tournament a couple years back out of Racine.  Living where I do, and fishing the Maumee River walleye run every year, I am often inclined to enter the Maumee Tackle Tournament.  This tournament is for “river rats” only, as two-man teams compete in a one-day event, fishing only the river.  The tournament date for this year was set for April 22nd, and I was scrambling to find a partner.  Fortunately, I have recently made a quick fishing friend in Chris (aka Duckdude) who shares many of the same passions (especially walleye fishing in the river) as myself.  I contacted Chris shortly after Easter, and he quickly agreed that we needed to fish this tourney together.  The cool down over the week of Easter had extended the run this year, keeping the water temps down and the fish in the river.  46 teams were registered for the tourney, which was by far the largest number of teams in the 17 year history of the tournament. 

The tournament format is as follows:

  • Two man teams, fishing allowed by either boat or wading
  • Weigh your 5 heaviest fish between the two entrants
  • Male walleyes only
  • Fishing time begins at 6:45 AM, and you must be checked in with your fish at the shop by 3:00 PM
  • Fish will be checked for snag marks, and any that have them will be disqualified

We would fish out of my 14’er, which would make for a very comfortable day.  I met Chris at Maumee Tackle at 5:30 AM, at which time the owner inspected the boat, and we were off to launch.  I wanted to get in the river as quickly as possible, to secure a good position in the river, knowing that we would likely have to sit in the dark for up to an hour prior to fishing time.  With the fantastic, nearly perfect weather forecast, I knew it would be an absolute zoo (big crowds) down there.  We launched at a private campground at 6:00 AM, and were somewhat (but not totally) surprised to see 7 other boats already sitting in the river.  Thankfully, each of them were sitting downstream of our desired spot.  As I dropped the anchor, a very good feeling came over me….something that told me this day was going to be a good one.  Chris looked at me and said, “I think we are going to hammer the fish today.”  I agreed, and that level of confidence was just what I was looking for in a teammate.  The river had dropped significantly over the previous few days, and we knew the fish would be holding in the deeper holes, one of which was directly in front of us. 

In the first hour of the tourney, Chris managed to get his 4 walleyes on the stringer, and I had 2 on mine.  His fish came on a #2 orange floater with chartreuse tail, and mine came on a #2 pink floater with neon green tail.  We were both using Carolina-rigs with 3/8oz. egg sinkers and 4’ leaders.  One of the fish was a decent jack, but the others were “eater” sized fish in the 16-18” range.  We would need bigger fish to compete, as we had discussed earlier in the morning that we thought we would need in excess of 15# to win.  Culling is permissible, and over the next couple hours, we upgraded our tourney catch significantly.  By 11:00 we had 2 “good” jacks, and several other “possibles” as well.  We had been catching and releasing cookie-cutter “eater” fish all morning.  Most of the fishermen around us were catching more of the same size fish, but the Fish Gods were definitely shining down on us this day, as our numbers were far in excess of those around us.  At high noon, I had a little flurry of action in which I boated two very nice jacks (culling two smaller fish) and then also had 2 more eaters in a period of 15 minutes.  This seemed to re-energize Chris, and it wasn’t long before he replaced an eater on his stringer with our largest fish of the day, a very nice jack of almost 5 pounds.  We now had 4 quality fish to weigh, needing just one more good one to complete a competitive box.  Chris hooked up at 1:55pm with a fish which would definitely have met the criteria, but his leader broke as the fish approached the back of the boat.  Disheartened, (but still somewhat confident) we pulled anchor at 2:10 PM and trailered the boat so that we could get to the weigh-in at Maumee Tackle before the 3:00 PM deadline. 

In looking at our catch, we thought that we might have 13-14# between the 5 fish.  Knowing that a jack-only tournament will result in somewhat low total weights, we thought that we would still be competitive.  In observing the other catches around us at the weigh-in, our spirits were lifted, as our fish were better than most around us.  We weighed our fish and they totaled 14.67#, which at that point put us in first place.  A team soon weighed 16#+, and we were bumped to second.  The next team to weigh had 14.85#, bumping us to third.  Another team still in line had good fish on their stringer, and one member of that team told me that they had at least 16#.  Figuring that we would finish 4th or worse, I told Chris that I had to get going, as I needed to get home for a family dinner in Cleveland.  Somewhat discouraged, I pulled away thinking that I had once again experienced a “close but no cigar” tournament effort. 

Chris called about 15 minutes later and informed me that the group behind us had two of their fish disqualified due to fresh snag marks.  This has been a problem with teams in the past, and became evident again today.  We ended up finishing 3rd for the tourney, netting us $345.00 for our team, which really made my day.  I called Salmonhead and left him a very long (and very excited) message with the results.  Unfortunately, I was on the road and missed any and all post-tourney pictures, but Chris was there for all of those proceedings.  You can see the results at:

Kudos to the winners, as they had 16#+ for their catch, and also to the 2nd place team, which had 0.18oz more than we were able to manage.  In all, it was a great day on the river with Chris.  He is an excellent river fisherman, and I was glad to have him on my team.  I started off slowly, but as the day wore on, I boated my share of fish, including 2 very nice “upgrades” to our tourney bag.  We boated in excess of 50 walleyes, and also at least another 50 “other” fish, which included quillbacks, carp, white bass, shad, and suckers.  One of the carp that I caught would barely fit in to the net, as it easily weighed 20#.  Chris also managed a very nice smallmouth early in the morning.  Although my 14’er is not a big-water boat, it serves the purpose for the river very well.  I think the stickers on the sides added to our luck for the day, as did my hat.  Hopefully Chris will attend the Walleye Smackdown in June so that you all can get a chance to put a face with a name.  He is a welcome addition to the community.

3rd isn’t 2nd nor 1st, but it surely isn’t 4th either…

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