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Lund - Tournament Coverage
PWT PRO Qualifier
 Escanaba, MI
 8/26 - 8/28
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· PWT Pro Ron Gazvoda Climbs Into Winner's Circle at Bay de Noc
· Mr. April Could be Mr. August if PWT Lead Holds at Bay de Noc
· Young Gun Danny Plautz Takes PWT Day One Lead at Bay de Noc
· Next Stop on Professional Walleye Tour- Bay de Noc's Giant Walleyes
PWT Pro Ron Gazvoda Climbs Into Winner's Circle at Bay de Noc

Escanaba, Michigan - Ron Gazvoda is in the record books. The Lakewood, Colorado, pro angler won the Outdoor Channel Pro-Am in Escanaba, Michigan. He also collected the $64,000 first prize by outfishing the world's 120 top-ranked pro anglers on Bay de Noc. It was the final In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournament of the year.

Like Gazvoda, the pros faced adverse weather all week as a cold front dropped water temperatures 15 degrees. On the final day, the wind switched 180 degrees to the north at 10 to 20 mph, and air temps never passed the mid-fifties. Despite that, the pros brought in about 300 walleyes each day. Many large fish were discovered by trolling the areas south of Escanaba near rocky points along the west shoreline and the Minneapolis Shoals area.

Gazvoda weighed 10 fish for 56 pounds. In his third PWT season, he has cashed nine checks in 16 tournaments (5 of 6 in 2004). He also placed second in the Angler of the Year standings. Winning that coveted $25,000 title for the first time was Tommy Skarlis, Walker, Minn. He earned $13,000 for third place, which brought his total PWT winnings for the year to $123,000. John Gillman, Freeland, Mich. was second in the Outdoor Channel Pro-Am and won $20,000.

Pros and amateurs netted nearly $300,000 in cash and merchandise prizes. The top amateur, Aaron Martin, Warren, Mich., towed home a $17,000 Lund boat and Mercury outboard on an E-Z Loader trailer. Other amateurs winning big were Mercury Top Amateur Rick Willet-Johnson, Omaha, Neb. who won $4,000 and an entry into the Mercury Championship, and Pflueger Top Amateur of the MotorGuide East Division Mark Butke, Hancock, Mich.

A special year-end award and a MotorGuide trolling motor went to pro John Gillman for winning the MotorGuide East Division. The Stowmaster Rookie of the Year $5,000 honors went to Ted Merdan, Maple Grove, Minn. Gazvoda also won the Dee Zee VIP (Very Impressive Pro) $2,000 award for advancing the most places from his standings in 2003 (38th place) to second this year. Final standings and Championship contestants are listed on www.professionalwalleyetrail.com.

On Bay de Noc, the Gander Mountain Heavyweight award went to pro Gillman ($500) and amateur Kelly Pollock, Dryden, Ontario ($300). Their final day catch weighed 25.42 pounds. Pro Jamie Sherman, Cambridge, PA, advanced from a "zero" on day one to 20th place to win the Coleman Cool Under Pressure award of $1,000. Amateur Alvin Davis, Ada, Mich., moved up 94 places to win $500. He advanced to seventh.

Pro Larry "Big Fish" Smith, Berlin, Wis., and amateur Bob Kubacki, Eagle River, Wis., landed a 11.49 pounder, and split $2,500. Many other fish over nine pounds came to the scales. Several anglers averaged six and seven pounds for all their fish.

A PWT Key Award went to Tom Polkey, area tournament coordinator, for his behind-the-scenes and on-site efforts. Many volunteers made the event a success. Another Key Award went to Vickie Micheau with the Delta County Chamber of Commerce and Steve Masters with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, who cooperated closely with many "details" that allowed the event to run so smoothly.

The PWT is an integral element of the In-Fisherman Communications Network headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and PRIMEDIA, America's leading producer of targeted media. PWT sponsors include: Mercury Marine, Lund, Berkley Gulp!, The Outdoor Channel, Trilene, Optima Batteries, Realtree, MotorGuide, Mr. Clean, PowerBait, Lowrance, MinnKota, Frenzy, Gander Mountain, Blue Fox, Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Coleman, Storm, Boat Buckle, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, Kwik Pfyt, Beckman, Rejuvenade, E-Z Loader, Raymarine, Rapala, Matzuo, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Drift Control, Aqua-Vu, Plano, Stowmaster.net. Delta Chamber of Commerce 906.786.8830 and Bays de Noc County Visitors Bureau 800.533.4386.
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Mr. April Could be Mr. August if PWT Lead Holds at Bay de Noc
Escanaba, Michigan - The In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) pro known as "Mr. April" is in position to also grab the "Mr. August" title. Tommy Skarlis, Walker, Minn., with two big catches in a row, leads the Outdoor Channel Pro-Am at Escanaba, Mich. He weighed eight walleyes in two days for a total of 43.66 pounds, with one day to go.

Skarlis won a PWT tournament in Wisconsin this April, his third PWT win in that month. He could become the first double winner in the same season, and he would claim a fifth PWT victory to tie pro Ron Seelhoff, Burlington, Col., who also has five first-place trophies.

The Pro-Am on Bay de Noc followed a record cold period for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, cooling water temperatures and negatively impacting the walleyes. But, by tournament-time, Aug. 26-28, warmer weather and smoother seas allowed the PWT pros to prove their skills. Skarlis and many pro anglers searched the waters south of Escanaba for big walleyes by trolling. They fished a combination of spinners and nightcrawlers for suspended walleyes. Some pros preferred crankbaits. Live bait rigs were used for smaller fish in Little Bay de Noc.

Moving into second place on day two was Ron Gazvoda, Lakewood, Col., with 39 pounds. Five pounds back is Charlie Johnson, Merrifield, Minn. Day one leader, Danny Plautz, Muskego, Wis., slid to fourth place with 33 pounds. Two-time PWT winner Scott Fairbairn, Hager City, Wis., is in fifth. On the amateur side, Aaron Martin, Warren, Mich., leads.

Big fish of the Pro-Am weighed 11.49 pounds, and boosted Larry Smith, Berlin, Wis. all the way to 57th place with one fish. It could be worth $2,500. A total of nearly $300,000 will be awarded Saturday, immediately following the weigh-in at Escanaba Municipal Marina. The top amateur wins a $17,000 Lund boat with a Mercury outboard on an E-Z Loader trailer. The top pro wins $64,000 including a Lund/Mercury boat.

A host of year-end awards will be made, including the $25,000 Angler of the Year honors, currently led by Skarlis. The qualifiers for the Sept. 17-19 Mercury Championship will be announced Saturday, also. That event will be held on the Keweenaw Waterway in Houghton, Mich.

The PWT is an integral element of the In-Fisherman Communications Network headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and PRIMEDIA, America's leading producer of targeted media. PWT sponsors include: Mercury Marine, Lund, Berkley Gulp!, The Outdoor Channel, Trilene, Optima Batteries, Realtree, MotorGuide, Mr. Clean, PowerBait, Lowrance, MinnKota, Frenzy, Gander Mountain, Blue Fox, Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Coleman, Storm, Boat Buckle, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, Kwik Pfyt, Beckman, Rejuvenade, E-Z Loader, Raymarine, Rapala, Matzuo, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Drift Control, Aqua-Vu, Plano, Stowmaster.net. Delta Chamber of Commerce 906.786.8830 and Bays de Noc County Visitors Bureau 800.533.4386.
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Young Gun Danny Plautz Takes PWT Day One Lead at Bay de Noc
Escanaba, Michigan - The proudest person at the Outdoor Channel Pro-Am day one weigh-in was Dan Plautz, father of Danny Plautz, PWT tournament leader. They were both fishing Little and Big Bays de Noc, but young Danny, 22 years old, fishing his second season, landed four walleyes for 24.45 pounds.

Not far off the pace was the senior Plautz with 18 pounds, tied for fifth place. He is also the 2003 In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Champion, and a 3-time PWT winner. The Muskego, Wis. pair were part of the elite PWT field of top-ranked walleye anglers competing for nearly $300,000.

The Outdoor Channel Pro-Am is the final qualifier of the 2004 season, and all eyes are on the invitation list (to be announced Saturday) for the September Mercury Championship. The top 10 in the MotorGuide East Division will be named after the third day, as will the top 30 of those pros fishing all six tournaments. Mike Gofron, Antioch, Ill., was ranked Number One in the Angler of the Year race going out this morning. However, he weighed 6.37 pounds, and Number Two pro Tommy Skarlis, Walker, Minn., scored 19.89 pounds.

Skarlis, currently in second place in the tournament and leading the Angler of the Year race said, "The great thing about the PWT is that itıs a 3-day event, and anything can happen." Jokingly, he said, "Letıs cancel the tournament right now!" Both Skarlis and Gofron are PWT winners this season, each winning more than $85,000. Angler of the Year pays $25,000, plus Mercury pays an extra $10,000 bonus.

Skarlis is followed closely by Mark Christensen, also from Walker, with 18.27 pounds. Freeland, Michigan pro John Gillman is fourth with 18.14 pounds. Charlie Johnson, Merrifield, Minn., is tied for fifth with two fish including Big Fish of the day, 10.66 pounds. The leading amateur is Jeff Ryan, Lake View, Iowa.

Many anglers struggled during the "practice period" due to severe cold fronts which dropped water temperatures about 15 degrees. Walleyes and bait fish were stunned, but became more active the day prior to the Pro-Am. Danny Plautz said, "I knew the fish were there, and they finally turned on today. I can hardly wait for Friday." About one-third of the field fished rigs and spinners in Little Bay de Noc along the sand-breaks. The balance of the 120 boats headed south to troll secret GPS points as far away as the Cedar River area and shoals in Big Bay de Noc.

The weigh-in crowd was treated to nice weather and a fun-time during the stage festivities. The final two days of activities take place at Escanaba Municipal Marina Friday and Saturday starting at 3 p.m. A special youth fishing tournament is set for Saturday, with weigh-in and awards on the PWT stage.

The PWT is an integral element of the In-Fisherman Communications Network headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and PRIMEDIA, America's leading producer of targeted media. PWT sponsors include: Mercury Marine, Lund, Berkley Gulp!, The Outdoor Channel, Trilene, Optima Batteries, Realtree, MotorGuide, Mr. Clean, PowerBait, Lowrance, MinnKota, Frenzy, Gander Mountain, Blue Fox, Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Coleman, Storm, Boat Buckle, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, Kwik Pfyt, Beckman, Rejuvenade, E-Z Loader, Raymarine, Rapala, Matzuo, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Drift Control, Aqua-Vu, Plano, Stowmaster.net. Delta Chamber of Commerce 906.786.8830 and Bays de Noc County Visitors Bureau 800.533.4386.
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Next Stop on Professional Walleye Tour- Bay de Noc's Giant Walleyes
Brainerd, Minnesota - Touring pro walleye anglers from as far away as Washington and New York will be heading to Escanaba, Michigan later this month. The In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) anglers will be gunning for the $64,000 top prize.

They will be fishing Little Bay de Noc and Big Bay de Noc, immense bays on the north end of Lake Michigan's Green Bay. Fishing the Outdoor Channel Pro-Am will be 120 pros - the best of the best - who applied to the PWT credentials committee and were selected to fish.

This Pro-Am, Aug. 26 - 28, will set the field for the Mercury Championship, also in Michigan's Upper Peninsula this September. The PWT slate of six qualifying tournaments (leading up to the Championship) runs April through August, with $2,000,000 in purses paid out this season. The pros win big, as do their amateur partners. The top amateur in every tournament tows home a Lund/Mercury walleye boat on an E-Z Loader trailer, valued at $17,000.

The Mercury Top Amateur at the end of the season also competes with the pro anglers at the Championship. There, the winner takes home more than $100,000. Last year Dan Plautz, Muskego, Wis. claimed first place.

The year-end prestigious Angler of the Year title will honor the most consistent pro over the past five months. Going into Bay de Noc as the Number One angler is Mike Gofron, Antioch, Ill. His five money finishes this year include first, fifth and seventh place trophies and more than $86,000 in winnings.

Giant walleyes roam Green Bay, prowling from the shallow weeds to the vast expanses of open water. Anglers are faced with many choices, especially where to go and which tactics to use. Andy Kuffer, Fair Haven, Mich., won at Escanaba last year, and favored spinners with night crawlers in Big Bay de Noc. His best advice, "Don't rely on memories when fishing nomadic Great Lakes walleyes; be ready to travel and adapt."

The daily weigh-in festivities occur at Escanaba Marina, starting at 3 p.m. Aug 26 - 28, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Walleye fans are invited to the free stage shows to learn more about where the pros find fish and how they catch them. As a special treat, the PWT, in cooperation with the NPAA, will conduct a Meet the Pros event designed especially for youngsters on Monday, Aug. 23 in the Menard's parking lot in downtown Escanaba, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The PWT is an integral element of the In-Fisherman Communications Network headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and PRIMEDIA, America's leading producer of targeted media. PWT sponsors include: Mercury Marine, Lund, Berkley Gulp!, The Outdoor Channel, Trilene, Optima Batteries, Realtree, MotorGuide, Mr. Clean, PowerBait, Lowrance, MinnKota, Frenzy, Gander Mountain, Blue Fox, Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Coleman, Storm, Boat Buckle, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, Kwik Pfyt, Beckman, Rejuvenade, E-Z Loader, Raymarine, Rapala, Matzuo, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Drift Control, Aqua-Vu, Plano, Stowmaster.net, Bay de Noc Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-533-4FUN) and Delta Chamber (888-335-8264).
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