--Presented by North American Fisherman
May 19, 2012—HURON, OH— South Dakotans Rick Olson & Tom Wiehoff finished strong to win a big-fish shootout by more than four pounds. They competed among 160 anglers from 13 states and one Canadian province at the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit’s Lake Erie tournament out of Huron, Ohio.
“We’re very excited; any tournament you win is great and the MWC is especially tough because of the great anglers you compete against,” said Rick Olson, of Mina, SD. The team broke away from the pack to find secluded spots, and after an impressive start of 43.45 pounds on Day One, a 42.29-pound Day Two basket gave them an 85.74-pound total weight.
The win earned them the $12,900 first-place cash purse, plus took home the $1,000 Ranger Cup award and $160 in U2/Oxygenator bonus awards.
Taking second place with 81.56 lbs was Al Szoke, of Grosse Ile, MI and David Leach, of Linwood, MI. Added to their winnings was a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card from the Cabela’s Angler Cash Program, a $500 Berkley Baits Berkley Tackle Package and a pair of Okuma Dead Eye rod-and-reel combos for being the highest-placing Premier (earlybird) Team. Also taking home Okuma Dead Eye rod-and-reel combos were 2nd place Premiers Mark Lemke, Dexter, MI and John O’Reilly, Lincoln Park, MI, as well as 3rd place Premiers Mark Campeau, St. Jochiam, ON and Greg Whitson, Windsor, ON. Campeau and Whitson earned the $500 Lowrance Electronics HDS/Elite DSI contingency as well.
In all, the top 16 teams shared more than $45,000 in cash, sponsor bonuses and Big Fish Pot winnings.
Set for May 18-20, the tournament offered two days of competition on Erie’s world-class walleye fishery, with one day reserved in case of bad weather – though idyllic weather kept the tournament on schedule and wrapped up Saturday evening. A total of 771 walleyes weighing 5,144.98 pounds crossed the scale in the event. Big fish was a 12.89-pound behemoth brought in by Mark & Richard Bretz of Newark, OH—worth $1,175 from the Big-Fish Pot.
Weigh-ins were held on the shores of the Huron River in Huron, Ohio. Following Friday’s weigh-in, the Cabela’s MWC, National Professional Anglers Association, Pure Fishing and Zippo Outdoors presented a Youth and Family Fishing Clinic, giving away free rod and reel combos, tackle and a Zippo Outdoor Family Camping Pack.
Walleyes were winners as well. The Cabela’s MWC donated $15 per boat, for a total of $1,200, to the Fish Huron organization to aid efforts to protect local fisheries. In turn, the group supplied an army of volunteers to assist with tournament operations. Since 1992, the MWC Conservation Fund has donated more than $300,000 to fisheries-enhancement projects.
This was the fourth of nine Cabela’s MWC qualifying tournaments in 2012. Open to diehard anglers regardless of club or sponsor affiliation, the remaining schedule includes Mille Lacs Lake at Isle, Minnesota, May 31-June 1; Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, June 29-July 1; Lake Oahe at Pierre, South Dakota, July 28-29; the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 24-26; and Cass Lake, Minnesota, out of Stony Point Resort, Sept. 14-16.
The Cabela’s MWC is open to all anglers regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. Registration costs $650 per tournament per two-person team, and remains open through the Sunday prior to each event. Payouts are based on the number of teams fishing each event. Overall in 2011, the Circuit paid back more than 120 percent of entry fees in cash payouts, team of the year awards, sponsor contingencies and winnings in the no-entry-fee Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Championship. To register or for details, call (877) 893-7947; visit masterswalleyecircuit.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1984, the Cabela’s MWC is the oldest team tournament circuit in the walleye world. It has a rich history of intense competition on top destinations, plus youth outreach and a lasting legacy of conservation. Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is in its 11th season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Zippo, NBC Sports Television Network and North American Fisherman. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Okuma, O2 Marine Technologies, Reflections, The Walleye Federation, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Gemini Sport Marketing and RPM Outdoor Sports.