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LAST UPDATE 09/15/01
Professional Walleye Trail 2001 Championship
Septmeber 13-15 2001
DODGE TRUCKS Championship
PWT Championship Walleye Festival in Bismarck
Bismarck, North Dakota....In September, the country's top-ranked walleye anglers head to North Dakota. The Dodge/Mercury Championship contenders have fished the Missouri River currents five of the past six years, and following the Sept. 13 - 15 competition, one man will earn $100,000.
"Best of all," said In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail executive director Jim Kalkofen, Brainerd, MN, "Walleye fans from all across North America will be cheering their favorite anglers." The anglers transport their walleyes to the Bismarck Civic Center, where weigh-ins begin after school at 4 p.m. The Thursday and Friday crowds build to a massive frenzy by the final day of competition, Saturday, Sept. 15. Fans enjoy the friendly rivalry, the freebies tossed by the anglers, the banter on stage and the antics of the anglers.
The veteran tournament organizer explained that a full Bismarck Civic Center creates waves of excitement. "It's more than just a fishing event, it's like a rock concert, the Super Bowl and the World Series all rolled into one," he said.
Leading the pack is In-Fisherman Angler of the Year Gary Gray, Oshkosh, WI. He said, "Catching fish on the Missouri River is important, but hoisting fish from the livewell, flashing them before the fans and hearing their cheers is awesome. I wouldn't miss this big show for anything." That same sentiment is shared by the 45 pro anglers.
The competitors represent 11 states and winners of 38 past PWT tournaments, eight former Championship winners, five Anglers of the Year and five Remington Top Guns. Wyoming and New York are represented for the first time. The field consists of the top six pro anglers from the both the Dee Zee western and eastern divisions, the top 30 touring pros, Ron Seelhoff, Burlington, CO, back-to-back winner of the last two Championships, and Mercury Top Amateur Rich Sidor, Clarendon Hills, IL. Sidor will compete against the same pros he fished with for the past nine years. Of the pros, only Mark Martin, Twin Lake, MI and Perry Good, Eagan, MN, have qualified for all 12 PWT Championships. Martin won the Championship in 1990; Good in 1994.
The first 500 youngsters each day win special PWT prizes. On Thursday, they receive tackle packs; on Friday they receive Plano tackle boxes; and on Saturday, they receive Pinnacle/Silstar rods and reels. Kids must wear a Folk Festival button and be accompanied by an adult to receive the free fishing tackle.
Fans can see a complete display of 2002 walleye boats, outboards, gear and equipment in the adjacent PWT Sport Show, with many company owners and industry leaders present. The Sport Show and all seats in the Civic Center are free to the public, but Kalkofen advises, "Be early."
The PWT has conducted walleye tournaments and Championships since 1989, and more than $10,000,000 in cash and merchandise has been earned by contestants. PWT Championship action can be watched in person, on the PWT Live Leader Board at www.in-fisherman.com, or Sept. 30 on TNN.
The PWT is part of PRIMEDIA,
Inc., America's leading producer of targeted media headquartered in New
York City. PWT sponsors include: Aqua Vu, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley
PowerBait, Berkley Trilene, Blue Fox Tackle, Carhartt, Coleman, Cotton
Cordell, Daiichi hooks, Dee Zee, Dodge truck, Eagle Claw, Eagle Trailers,
Evercel, Flambeau, Guest chargers, IMCO Boat Buckles Lindy Little Joe,
Lowrance Electronics, Lund Boats, Mack's Lure, Marinco, Mercury Outboards,
MinnKota, Rapala Lures, Northland Tackle, Oceanwave sunglasses, Pinnacle
rods and reels, Plano, RAM, Raytheon Marine, Real Tree, Shimano rods,
Storm Lures, T-H Marine, Yamaha all terrain vehicles, Bismarck/Mandan Convention
& Visitors Bureau (800-767-3555) and North Dakota Tourism (800-HELLOND).
The Dodge/Mercury Championship is one month away. Make plans now to attend the biggest indoor walleye celebration in the world.
Dates of competition are Sept. 13, 14, 15. Fishing takes place on the Missouri River from Bismarck, ND downstream. But, the real excitement is inside the Bismarck Civic Center each afternoon.
In addition to stories about hometown and state favorites fishing the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Championship, media will find plenty of news at the "Walleye Only" sport show. New boats, outboards, gear and equipment will be unveiled for the first time, and the owners or key personnel from these companies will be present. So will the leaders in the industry, including Al and Ron Lindner and others.
Through North Dakota Tourism and the Bismarck/Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, you will be paired with experts to discuss the upcoming upland game and waterfowl seasons. Fishing throughout North Dakota continues to amaze biologists; find out why. The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition will soon be here; they spent more time in North Dakota than any other modern-day state, and local experts will be available for photos and interviews. Grouse and dove seasons will be open. Also, the ESPN folks who run a fantasy walleye game will be in attendance; talk with them. The fantasy game is at www.fbc2000.com.
Of course, the extravaganza occurring in the Civic Center as walleye fans cheer their heroes, is the highlight of Championship week. But, you will find dozens of additional stories to interest you and your editors.
As an added treat following the Championship, a special pheasant hunt has been organized for Sunday and Monday, Sept. 16 & 17 for interested media. You will travel from Bismarck to the hunt Sunday morning, with lodging and dinner provided Sunday night. Call PWT for details.
Qualified media may be eligible for complimentary lodging in Bismarck; call PWT executive director Jim Kalkofen, 218-824-2552, or e-mail Jim at email@example.com. Local media should also notify Jim so appropriate credentials may be prepared.
Special press conferences will be conducted each Championship day with top anglers. Press conferences will be from the main stage, with all walleye fans listening to your questions and the pro's answers.
Results will be posted on the PWT Live leader Board as the anglers cross the stage. Check the PWT web site for other Championship details and schedules (and Live Leader Board) at www.in-fisherman.com. Then, go to the tournament link.
Top 10 Reasons to Attend PWT Championship Fun & Festivities
Bismarck, North Dakota...The In-Fisherman Professional
A sport show fills the adjacent Exhibit Hall, and
The PWT Top 10 List for Kids & Fans of all Ages
to Join the Fun,
# 10: The best walleye anglers in North America are in town;
# 9: The pros are fishing for your favorite fish -- walleyes.
#8: A huge kids fishing fair with games, prizes,
#7: Pros from Casper, Wyoming to Conover, Wisconsin;
#6: The first 500 kids each day receive FREE
#5: Watch how 25 pounds of fish can be worth
#6. The Bismarck Civic Center action, thrills,
#5: The Sport Show in the adjacent Exhibit
Hall is loaded
#4: Learn the secrets of the mighty Missouri River.
#3: Listen for rigging and jigging details for elusive walleyes.
#2: Get autographs of the walleye heroes you
only see on TV
#1: The Championship and Sport Show are family-oriented
NOTE TO MEDIA: For Championship "floor" credentials, see PWT
staff at the Civic Center. Special floor seating is provided to
Walleyes Swim to Main Stage at
Bismarck Civic Center September 13 - 15
Bismarck, North Dakota....From Wyoming to New York, the walleye pros are coming to Bismarck. Each of the top-ranked anglers hopes to catch the largest fish and display them to the walleye fans from the Bismarck Civic Center main stage.
"That's right," said In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) executive director Jim Kalkofen, Brainerd, Minnesota, "The pros work their magic on the Missouri River, then drive inside the Civic Center to show off their fish to the world's best walleye fans." Each day of the Dodge/Mercury Championship, Sept. 13 - 15, brings new triumphs and a few heartaches as the pros tell their stories. One pro will win the $100,000 first prize.
Only the 45 highest placing pros qualified for Bismarck. They fished hard all season; the Championship is the culmination of thousands of road miles, thousands of nightcrawlers, thousands of gallons of gasoline, thousands of walleyes (and a few missed bites), and a major commitment by these dedicated professionals.
Even though Wisconsin pro Gary Gray leads the group as the In-Fisherman Angler of the Year, two North Dakota pros with intimate knowledge of the Missouri River system . Les Vietz and Dave Kraft, both of Bismarck, will be competing, along with Johnnie Candle, Devils Lake, and Tom Backer, Fargo for in-state honors. "The river changes so much, everybody's got the same chance," said Kraft, a retired federal game warden. He also serves as the Championship committee chairman. He is a past PWT winner and anxious for the competition to begin.
Kraft is proud of the community
support and the numbers of fans who attend the big festival inside the
Civic Center and the adjacent Sport Show. "It's all free and for
family fun and entertainment, you can't beat it. Come and join us,"
he said. The actual stage festivities begin at 4 p.m. daily,
which makes this a perfect after-school activity.
Kraft also wants all youngsters to know that with a parent and a Folk Fest button they are eligible for attendance prizes. The first 500 kids on day one receive a tackle pack; on day two the first 500 get a Plano tackle box; and on day three the first 500 win a Pinnacle/Silstar spinning rod and reel.
Joining the North Dakota contingent and the Angler of the Year are names familiar to walleye fans everywhere. They include the winner of last year's Championship, Ron Seelhoff, Burlington, CO. Other past Bismarck Championship winners also fishing in a few weeks include Ted Takasaki, East Gull Lake, MN, and Rick LaCourse, Oregon, Ohio.
The field includes anglers with 38 PWT wins to their credit and many who have been past Anglers of the Year and Remington Top Guns. Ten anglers are fishing their first Championship and three are rookies. The rookies include Rick Walter, Casper, WY, Keith Segar, Muskegon, MI, and Jeff Russell, Grand Haven, MI.
PWT Championship Moves
Forward; Gofron Leads after Day 1
Bismarck, North Dakota....Mike Gofron, Antioch, IL, captured the day one lead of the Dodge/Mercury Championship with 8.88 pounds. The 45 "Best-of-the-Best" walleye anglers on the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tour have been in North Dakota for a week, all seeking the solution for the $100,000 first prize.
The Championship continues Friday and Saturday, with great Missouri River fishing, followed by exciting ceremonies inside the Bismarck Civic Center. Pro anglers drive through the Civic Center to the cheers of their walleye fans. Second and third place pros were Tom Backer, Fargo, ND, 8.66 pounds and Jim Peterson, Elk River, MN, 8.51 pounds. Weights were close in the 5-fish competition. Only one walleye could be over 18 inches. Most anglers weighed limits.
Prior to the weigh-in festivities, PWT emcee Jim O'Rourke read the following message,
"The events of these past days have shocked and saddened all Americans. The professional anglers in this Championship tournament, the staff of In-Fisherman, the sponsors, the participants in the sportshow, the Civic Center support staff, the Touchstone Energy media team, all of our families, indeed every person in North Dakota and the rest of this country have been profoundly affected by this tragedy. Yet our American spirit continues to prevail.
"President George Bush has urged all Americans to carry on. North Dakota Governor John Hoeven in conjunction with the Bismarck Chamber of Commerce, asked the Folk Fest, a long standing celebration here in Bismarck, and the Professional Walleye Trail Championship, an integral part of Folk Fest weekend for the past few years, move forward as planned. And we are doing that in Bismarck for the Championship. As each pro fisherman enters the arena he will proudly display the American flag in honor of the victims and their families and in the spirit of renewed patriotism.
"Let's pull together as a community and remember those who died this week, and reflect on our future as we give each of these contestants a rousing North Dakota welcome."
Those who visited the pros and Sportshow (free to all) said, "What a great show, we'll be back." The first 500 youngsters in the Sportshow Exhibit Hall received free fishing tackle packs today and 500 will get free Plano tackle boxes tomorrow, and 500 Silstar rods and reels on Saturday.
Bass Pro Shops big fish today
was 2.42 pounds caught by Norb Wallock, Conover, WI. The largest
walleye pays $1,000. All cash and prizes (nearly $250,000), will
be paid Saturday.
Dodge Truck/Mercury Outboards
Thursday, September 6
Friday, September 7
Saturday, September 8 First Day of Practice (launch at any
Sunday, September 9 Pro-Am Celebrity Tournament
(launch at any ramp)
Monday, September 10 Third Day of Open Practice (launch
at any ramp)
Tuesday, September 11 Fourth
Day of Open Practice
PWT Headquarters phone: 701-250-7637; FAX 701-250-7638
NOTE: First 500 youngsters with FolkFest buttons accompanied by parent or guardian receive coupons for tackle on Championship Day 1 and Plano tackle boxes on Day 2. On the final day, the first 500 kids get coupons for Pinnacle/Silstar rod & reel combos. Redeem coupons at Exhibit Hall following weigh-in.
Anyone looking for a ride, rider, or someone to share lodging and expenses with, can be posted on the PWT info bulletin board. Please provide your name, city, state and dates of travel, and any other pertinent notes you wish to include on your board posting and Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.Since this will be public information, it will be up to you on how much information you wish to display on the board, such as addresses and phone numbers. After a note is posted and an arrangement is requested, we will forward the name, address and phone number to the appropriate party(ies). This information will not be disseminated with out the consent of the parties involved. The point person coordinating the bulletin board information is Randy Tyler, can be reached at home at (708) 425-0996 Future possibilities for the website could include information like travel tips, lodging information, landings, local bait stores, etc. Hopefully, this “networking” will make traveling for all contestants’ easier, more cost effective, and safer, as well as promoting PWT fellowship. Your input, comments and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
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