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Dr. samson wins $300,000 as Wal-Mart Walleye RCL champion
RED WING, Minn. (Oct. 5, 2002) – Bruce Samson of Minnetrista, Minn., caught five walleyes weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to claim a top pro award of $300,000 in the $1.4 million RCL Walleye Championship on the Mississippi River. Samson won the guaranteed cash award of $150,000 plus a sponsor bonus of $150,000 for running a Crestliner boat.
Samson survived the opening-round cut Thursday in ninth place with eight walleyes weighing 27 pounds, 13 ounces followed by a second-place finish in Friday’s semifinal round with four walleyes weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces. The Crestliner pro is a physician by trade who was fishing in his second RCL Championship.
“It was a long journey to get here. I’ve been planning for a year,” said Samson, who took a seven-month sabbatical from his job to concentrate on his fishing. “Everything worked out the way I wanted. I’ve been at this for a few years, and now it’s finally coming together.”
Samson, who caught his fish over the course of the tournament using mainly night crawlers and minnows, said he decided to devote his total attention to fishing this year because it had become all he ever thought about. “My wife said, ‘When you’re home, you’re not home,’” Samson said. Added his wife, Julie: “He is a really good doctor and a really good fisherman, but he loves fishing much more. He’d give up his other job in a second!”
Competition began Wednesday at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Red Wing with a full field of 234 pros and 234 co-anglers competing for two days before the field was cut to 12 pros and 12 co-anglers following Thursday’s competition. The pro field was narrowed to six after Friday’s competition, and co-angler competition concluded Friday with Tim Lessila of New Berlin, Wis., winning $75,000 cash as the co-angler champion. Nineteen states and Canada were represented in the tournament.
Rounding out the top six pros are Lund pro Mike Gofron of Antioch, Ill. (five walleyes, 12 pounds, 15 ounces); Crestliner pro Richard Franklin of Louisburg, Kan. (three walleyes, 11 pounds, 11 ounces); Ranger pro Joe Wilson of Rolling Stone, Minn. (two walleyes, 6 pounds, 11 ounces); Ranger pro Richard Nascak of Winona, Minn. (two walleyes, 4 pounds, 8 ounces); and Ranger pro Brad Knoll of Menasha, Wis., (no walleye).
Named after Wal-Mart and boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund, the $2.9 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit is the world’s most lucrative walleye-fishing series. With a purse of up to $1.4 million, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship is the most lucrative walleye tournament in the history of the sport. The championship will be broadcast to 45 million Outdoor Life Network subscribers Oct. 12 at 10:30 a.m. CST.
FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing tournaments, administers the RCL Walleye Circuit. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.
Sponsors of the 2002 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit are Wal-Mart, Castrol,
Conseco, Crestliner, Energizer, EverStart Batteries, Evinrude, Faded Glory,
Garmin, Kellogg’s, Lund, Minn Kota, Newell Rubbermaid, Poulan, Ranger Boats,
Snickers, Stanley, Weed Eater and Yamaha Outboards.
To register for competition or for more information about the Wal-Mart RCL
Walleye Circuit, visit www.operationwalleye.com or call 270-362-5259. Entry
fees for the championship are $1,500 for pros and $750 for co-anglers.
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