|In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail all-time money winner Ron Seelhoff grabbed a commanding lead in the Optima Pro-Am tournament today.|
He landed two walleyes over the 28-inch Mille Lacs "slot" limit (the only pro to do so) for 19.58 pounds. He was fishing with amateur/co-angler Eric Vogel, Stuart, Neb.
The Super Pro series presented by MinnKota is an invitational to the top 60 walleye anglers. They fish four tournaments for cash and honors. In Seelhoff's case, he has won more than $550,000, claimed five titles including two Mercury Championships, and has been a past Johnsonville Brats Angler of the Year. The Burlington, Col., pro usually has trolling as his Number One game plan, and is regarded as the Grand Master of walleye trolling.
Mille Lacs in August has become a crankbait and spinner/nightcrawler-trolling bonanza. Fish are scattered like roaming packs of hungry wolves, and the pros key in on specific areas. Some pros concentrated on walleyes 15-feet deep. Others worked depths of 22 to 24 feet, and some worked 26 feet. These walleyes were suspended over about 35 feet of water "in the mud" as some pros proclaim the wide-open expanses of the 125,000-acre lake.
Mille Lacs is loaded with walleyes, and many anglers enjoy slip-bobbering with live bait or rigging with live bait. Almost every parking lot is filled with trucks and boat trailers from the season opener through late July. The Super Pros were forced to fish in a non-traditional period, but proved their skills. Some moved back and forth. With any breeze, they hit the rocks with bobbers, but trolled when the winds died.
Second place pro, Todd Frank, Pulaski, NY, weighed 15.46-pounds.
Andy Kuffer, Sterling Heights, Mich., holds third with 15.19 pounds, while Sheldon Meidinger, Bismarck, ND, is in fourth with 14.55 pounds. Canadian Super Pro Larry Snow is in fifth with 13.18 pounds. All caught one walleye over 28-inches. The winning pro nets $66,000 including a Lund/Mercury walleye boat. The Coleman Big Fish weighed 7.77 pounds was landed by Scott Fairbarin, Hager City, Wis, and amateur Russ Hanson, Belvidere, Ill.
The slot limit forced anglers to make critical decisions. Each boat could keep four walleyes, with no upgrading. Of those, all had to be 14 to
22 inches, but two could be over 28-inches. Anglers lauded the lake's walleye population. Nearly every boat accounted for several fish in the 22 to 27 _ inch range (all had to be released).
When the skies cleared about 2 p.m., families had fun at the PWT Outdoor Festival. The kids climbed the Rock Wall, shot paintball guns and Gamo air rifles and caught trout in the fishing pond, All activities were free, and will continue the final two days of competition, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 10 and 11. Everything including the drive-through weigh-in occurs at one of the many family resorts on Mille Lacs, Hunter's Point Resort. It's between Malmo and Isle on the lake's east side. The Festival begins at noon; the weigh-in at 5 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 promotional partners include: Mercury Marine, Lund, The Outdoor Channel, Berkley, Optima Batteries, Realtree, MotorGuide, Lowrance, MinnKota, Trilene, Frenzy, Blue Fox, Powerbait, Johnsonville Brats, Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, GULP!, Coleman, Storm, Tommy Docks, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, E-Village, Kwik Pfyt, Raymarine, Rapala, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Gerbing's Heated Clothing, Aqua-Vu, Plano, Stowmaster.net, Navionics, Yellow Bird, Beckman, Drift Control, Gemini Sport Marketing, Yo-Zuri , Reef Runner and Hunter's Point Resort, 320.676.3227.