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Last Update 08-08-98

Nebraska Team Captures Day One Title in Red Ball/MinnKota "Team Challenge"

 Saturday, July 18,1998 - Ogallala, NE ....

A pair of Nebraska walleye anglers took a huge bite out of rumors that near-record temperatures had turned off Lake McConaughy's hot early summer walleye bite here during Day One of the Red Ball"Team Challenge" - a world class fishing event designed specifically for team anglers.As Nebraska's largest reservoir, Lake McConaughy, covers 35,700 acres within the state's famous sand hill region and boasts a reputation as an excellent walleye fishery. Widely recognized among veteran walleye anglers as "Big Mac", the sprawling reservoir served up plenty of walleyes, as well as a variety of challenges to NAWA anglers today.In addition to the sweltering daytime temperatures of over 100 degrees, the teams also dealt with rapidly falling lake levels and extremely clear water.Winning the first-day title and top prize of $1,331 were Nebraska anglers Troy Bozard of Sidney and Barry Walker of Big Springs with a six-fish basket weighing 26.94 pounds. Unlike many of the competitors, Bozard and Walker experienced their best success fishing deeper water."The walleyes are feeding shallow very early in the day, but have retreated to deeper waters by the time we start fishing," Bozard said during the Day One press conference, "The heat is driving the baitfish deeper and the walleyes are going with them."Through reluctant to reveal their exact technique until after the Day Two competition, Bozard and Walker admitted catching all their fish on live bait. Bozard said the bite was extremely light and difficult to detect.Weighing six walleyes totaling 20.17 lbs and collecting the Day One second place prize of $799 were runners up Ron Nelson of Sidney, NE and Chuck Villareal of Dix, NE. Unlike the first-place finishers, Nelson and Villareal found success using two different techniques."We caught fish using live bait and trolling, and experienced similar success with each approach," Nelson said. "While the hot wether may have played some role in the fishing, I really feel the rapidly dropping lake levels are what's causing the walleyes to move deeper."The Sidney, Nebraska team of Brad Olson and Doug Veldhuizen weighed the day's third best basket. Olson and Veldhuizen weighed a six-fish limit of 17.89 lbs and collected $719.
Teams finishing in the top five spots include:
Place Name City State Weight Winnings
1 Troy Bosard Sidney Nebraska 26.94 lbs $1,331
Barry Walker Big Springs Nebraska
2 Ron Nelson Sidney Nebraska 20.17 lbs $799
Chuck Villerael Dix Nebraska
3 Brad Olson Sidney Nebraska 17.89 lbs $719
Doug Veldhuzen Sidney Nebraska
4 Jake Krause Bellevue Colorado 17.29 lbs $399
Shad Chandler Almena Kansas
5 Lonnie Snyder Thornton Colorado 14.74 lbs $320
John Flaherty Thornton Colorado

The Thornton, CO, team of Lonnie Snyder and John Flaherty collected today's Outdoor Technologies Group $500 Big Fish Award. Snyder and Flaherty weighed a 7.66 lb walleye, the biggest fish of the day.Of the 43 boat field, only six teams brought six-fish limits to the Day One scales. The anglers caught a total of 96 walleyes weighing 260 lbs during the first day of competition here at Otter Creek Lodge.Under NAWA's "Team Challenge" rules, Day One catches are not carried over to the second day and everyone starts from scratch on Day Two. The purse is paid in two portions, half on Day One and half on Day Two.Tournament anglers return to the water tommorrow for Day Two of the Red Ball/Minn Kota "Team Challenge", the third of NAWA's seven exciting high-profile two-day team competitions.The action gets underway tomorrow at 7 a.m. Weigh-in activities begin at 3:45 pm at Otter Creek Lodge. Beginning at noon, the public can attend a free mini outdoor sport show featuring products and hands on demonstrations from factory experts representing NAWA sponsors.

Day two Results

Sunday, July 19,1998 - Ogallala, NE ....Finding the alewives, a popular forage for walleyes,proved to be the key to success today for Colorado anglers Jeff Meckleburg of Fleming and his partner, Ron Baucke of Uma during Day Two of the RedBall"Team Challenge"here on Nebraska's famous Lake McConaughy.   Widely recognized among veteran walleye anglers as "Big Mac," Lake McConaughy continued to dish out heaping servings of bragging-size walleyes, as well as new challenges during the second day of competition. Though failing to weigh a fish on Day One, Meckleburg and Baucke brought a six-fish limit weighing 23.58 pounds to the Day Two scales. The Colorado team stressed at the Sunday press conference that a change in wind direction brought alewives to their fishing area on the south end of the lake, which also attracted the walleyes. While most anglers in the 43-boat field were using live-bait rigs and nightcrawlers, the  Day Two winners found their success using bottom bouncers baited with live leeches. "We actually carried these leeches with us the past four days and finally decided to try  them today," Meckleburg said. "Thought the changing wind direction played a major role   in our success, I also feel that changing from nightcrawlers to leeches also helped."  Though daytime temperatures soared above the 100 degree mark during both days of competition, Meckleburg and Baucke caught all of their walleyes from depths of 20 feet or less. The winners, who took home a check for $1,331 said persistence was the key to boating Lake McConaughy walleyes during the hot summer months.  "You had to stick with it and concentrate on the task at hand," said Baucke, "The action was slow and it was critical to take advantage of every bite."    The fishing patterns were remarkably similar for Day Two runners-up Steve Beck,   Lakewood, CO and William Ianiro of Wheatridge, CO, who took home $799. Though    fishing bottom bouncers most of the day, Beck and Ianiro also found some success trolling crankbaits during the mid-day hours.  "Actually, both methods were equally productive," Beck said. "I really think it was the        alewives that brought our success, and not so much the technique." Beck and Ianiro, who weighed four walleyes totaling 17.76 pounds, were fishing near the  Boy Scout Camp (the same general area where the first place team boated their fish).  This location on the lake's south side has been a long-established summer hot spot for      "Big Mac" walleyes.  Jake Kraus of Bellvue, CO and Shad Chandler of Almena, KS, weighed the day's third best basket. Kraus and Chandler weighed a six-fish limit totaling 15.74 pounds and collected $719 in Day Two winnings.

Teams finishing in the top five spots include

Place Name City State Weight Winnings
1 Jeff Mekleburg Fleming Colorado 23.58 lbs $1,331
Ron Bauke Yuma Colorado
2 Steve Beck Lakewood Colorado 17.67 lbs $799
William Ianira Wheatridge Colorado
3 Jake Kraus Bellevue Colorado 15.74 lbs $719
Shad Chandler Almena  Kansas
4 Steve Isom Valentino Nebraska 14.20 lbs $399
Mike Pollack Norfolk Nebraska
Michelle Wolford Ogallala Nebraska 14.06 lbs $320
Lennie Collins Ogallala Nebraska

North Platte Nebraska Anglers John and Randy Rowland collected the days Outdoor Technologies Group $500 Big fish Award.  The team weighted a 8.95 lb walleye the biggest fish of the day.  Of the 43 boat field, eight teams brought six-fish limits to the Day Two scales, compared  to six teams on Day One. The anglers weighed 209 walleyes totaling 547 lbs during the two-day team competition here at Otter Creek Lodge.  The NAWA tournament trail now leads to the famous Lake Sakakawea near Garrison, ND, August 12-16, for the Starcraft/Mercury "High Plains Quest" - a combination Pro/Am  and "Team Challenge". Openings are still available for team competitors and interested individuals should call Jim George Cabela's Sportsman's Quest at (800) 224-4990 for more information.

1998 NAWA sponsors
Nautimatic Marine Systems LUHR-JENSON 
VMC  WISE COMPANY Guest Chargers




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