Scott Larson, of, Mayville, North Dakota, brought in a three-day total of 74.89 pounds of walleye to win the pro-angler category of the championship event for the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) on Sept. 19. With the victory, Larson took home a fully-equipped Ranger 621FS with an Evinrude 225 horsepower outboard and $15,000 cash, for a total purse of $83,000.
Larson started out the tournament in second after he brought in 27.52 pounds using a one-two punch of a morning trolling bite and a big-fish jigging bite. However, he admits he played it extra safe on day two, just trying to assure himself that he’d make it to the final day. He nearly played it too safe, as he boxed his first five trolling fish, but then went to his jigging area and never got a bite in four hours. With only 18.12 pounds on day two, Larson went into the final day of competition sitting in sixth place with ground to make up.
Larson opted to start the final day targeting big fish jigging isolated rock piles in the Six Mile Bay area. He had one main spot, but would search around using his Humminbird Side Imaging to mark and come back to other ones, which eventually proved crucial.
Larson’s trolling bite was one many other anglers had found in Pelican Lake. The difference is that Larson was able to quickly catch limits thanks to one key adjustment while others barely caught anything.
“I slowed way down,” Larson said. “Most guys were in that 2-2.2 mph range. I was trolling at 1.5-1.6. That really worked to allow the lead-core to take my lures (Berkley Flicker Shad and Rapala Jointed Shad Raps in bright perch patterns) and get them to bump against the sidewall of the long structure we were trolling. Other guys were just going too fast and trolling above the fish’s heads.”
While the trolling bite had been good for quick limits, on day three it produced quantity and quality. Larson said he was throwing back too many four-pounders to count, and by the time he opted to try and jig up one more big fish, he already had 26-27 pounds.
Still, he had an hour and wanted to see if those rock piles would produce. With about 30 minutes left he marked a big fish suspended off the bottom.
“I just hovered over that fish, and she finally bit,” Larson said. “It was a 7-8-pounder, and once I caught that one I laid down in the bow of my boat. I had a good feeling I had a chance.”
With nearly every angler above him stumbling, Larson’s chance turned it a realized dream.
“It’s incredible,” Larson said. “To beat the best of the best, it’s such a privilege. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s probably the best feeling I’ve had since my kids were born. This is my first major win, and to do it on my home waters makes it that much better.”
Ed Stachowski (second), Gary Maher (third), Robert Bruegger (fourth), Paul Steffen (fifth), Todd Zemke (sixth), Gary Parsons (seventh), Chad Schilling (eighth), Mike Gofron (ninth) and David Andersen (tenth) round out the top ten for pro-anglers.
Clint Glass, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, won the co-angler category for the championship event with a three-day total of 69.78 pounds. The angler was paired with Gary Larson on day one and with Paul Steffen on day two. His final-day pro partner, Gary Maher, had brought in the largest bag of the tournament the day before.
Unfortunately, those big bites eluded the Maher and Glass on the final day. The anglers’ 16.46 pounds was enough for Glass to hold off the hard-charging Aaron Saar who finished 1.77 pounds behind Glass. The winning co-angler took home $6,739 in winnings.
“All of the guys I fished with were excellent fishermen,” Glass said. “Gary had a great game plan, but the fish just weren’t there for us. Still, it feels amazing to win. I couldn’t be happier.”
Aaron Saar (second), Karl Sprengel (third), Chester Jones (fourth), John Hoyer (fifth), Kurt Zins (sixth), Bernard Schauer (seventh), tom Wiehoff (eighth), Leon Mucha (ninth) and Scott Cisewski (tenth) round out the top ten for co-anglers.
Mark Courts and John Hoyer captured the pro- and co-angler Angler of the Year titles. Both anglers will receive custom Lucas Oil rings and paid entries for the 2016 NWT season.