Angling event a walleye opener
Written by Lexington Herald-Ledger   
Monday, 03 January 2005 02:37
Want to learn how to catch walleye from Lake Cumberland in just three days?

The 120 anglers who sign up to fish as amateur co-anglers when In-Fisherman's Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) makes a stop at Lake Cumberland, June 1-3, will get that opportunity.

"These anglers will fish with a different pro during each of the three days of the tournament," said Jim Kalkofen, PWT executive director. "They will learn how to fish for walleyes, what lures and fishing tactics work best, how to find walleyes with electronics, and how to control the boat for maximum success."

But the biggest advantage for Kentucky anglers might be that they get to do all this on a lake that's close to home and one they can fish regularly.

PWT's Pro-Am format, which pairs professional touring walleye anglers with local fishermen, is like fishing with a guide but with the added opportunity to win cash and prizes. The amateurs in the tournament fish against one another, and at the end of three days of fishing the top 40 amateurs (in total weight of walleyes caught) get gift certificates and prizes. The winning amateur takes home a fully rigged Lund boat valued at $17,000.

"We are taking entries now, and there are plenty of openings," Kalkofen said. "We would prefer that half of the field of 120 amateurs come from Kentucky."

The cost is $600 per person and includes boat, motor, fuel, fishing tackle, bait and three days of personal instruction. "Our pros are not only good fishermen, but they have good communication skills. That's critical," Kalkofen said. "We've seen some strong relationships develop over the years between these anglers."

Kalkofen said a recent survey of amateurs fishing PWT tournaments found that many of them wanted to make a career in the fishing industry, meet pro anglers, and fish in a tournament on their favorite lake. "Some of the things they wanted to learn from their pro partners were new techniques and presentations, walleye patterns, how to use a GPS (global positioning system) and how to read water and locate fish," Kalkofen said.

In-Fisherman, a magazine, book, video and television network based in Brainerd, Minn., is the parent company of PWT and has conducted walleye tournaments throughout the United States the last 15 years. "During that time we've paid out $18 million in cash and prizes," Kalkofen said.

It's the first time PWT has ever held a tournament in Kentucky, but it's not the first time Lake Cumberland has hosted a professional walleye tournament. The now-defunct North American Walleye Anglers (NOWA) circuit held year-end championship tournaments on Lake Cumberland in 1995 and 1996.

The walleye tournament on Lake Cumberland, one of six PWT qualifying tournaments held in 2005, will be headquartered in Russell Springs on the lower end of the lake. Daily boat launches will be from Alligator II Marina (telephone 270-866-4410), and weigh-ins will be held at the Indian Hills KOA Campground on Ky. 1383, just up the hill from the marina.

Kalkofen said the Pro-Am format enables anglers with little or no walleye fishing experience to be competitive right away.

Consider what happened to Roger Hackman of Harrison, Ark., winner of last year's PWT tournament on Bull Shoals Lake, on the Arkansas/Missouri border. "These pros really showed me about fishing with live bait, and how patience and boat control can make a difference," said Hackman, a veteran of bass fishing tournaments. "The first walleye I ever caught was in a PWT tournament. These guys are as serious as any bass pro."

Under the tournament rules, the boat's total weight of walleye caught is the weight for the day, for both the pro and the amateur angler. "It's not only a fun way to fish, but the best opportunity to learn," Kalkofen said.How to enter

Since all the professional anglers who fish in PWT tournaments are invited, only amateur slots are open to the public.

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