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Minnema takes Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit lead on Lake Winnebago
Oshkosh, Wis., (May 29, 2002) — Pro Tim Minnema of Markesan, Wis., and his opening day partner John Solek of Indianapolis landed a six-walleye limit weighing 21 pounds Wednesday to lead the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit tournament on Lake Winnebago.
Despite a 2-pound penalty for late registration that knocked is weight to 19 pounds, Minnema holds the pro lead by 2 ounces over LeRoy Schroeder of Larsen, Wis. Schroeder and co-angler Keith Strauss of Syracuse, Ind., landed six walleye weighing 18 pounds, 14 ounces.
If Minnema can maintain his lead throughout the four-day tournament, he will collect more than $90,000 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat powered by Evinrude or Yamaha. Solek is fishing for a top co-angler award of $15,000 cash. Both men will be challenged by 144 competitors in their respective divisions. Minnema will also have to top his father, Jim, who is in fourth place with six walleye weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces.
“I was very anxious going into this event,” said Minnema, whose biggest tournament payday to date is $20,000 for a fourth place RCL finish last season. “I’m considered a local by many of the anglers, but I didn’t spend much time with these fish. And I have to continue putting fish in the boat to win.”
Minnema and Solek targeted migratory walleye in the Fox River. They were casting 1/8- to 1/4-ounce Lindy Fuzzy Grubs to current breaks in 3 to 12 feet of water and handlining a variety of stick baits.
Pro Mark Keenan of Menasha, Wis., and co-angler George Heller of Webster City, Iowa, finished opening day in third place with six walleyes weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces.
Competition resumes at 7 a.m. Thursday at Pioneer Resort in Oshkosh when competitors from more than a dozen states and Canada take off for the final day of opening round competition. Following Thursday’s 3 p.m. weigh-in at Pioneer Resort, the field will be cut to the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers. These anglers will advance to the one-day semifinal round Friday where they will compete for a spot in the final round. Only the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers will advance to Saturday’s final round. Catch weights are carried over during the opening round, but anglers start the semifinal and final rounds from zero. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins start at 4 p.m. at the Oshkosh Wal-Mart located at 2035 South Koeller Street.
Directed by FLW Outdoors and named after Wal-Mart and boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit is the world’s most lucrative walleye fishing series. The $2.9 million circuit features four regular season tournaments each with a $346,000 cash purse and a championship with a $1.4 million cash purse. Cash payments are presented through 50th place.
The fourth and final regular season tournament will be on Saginaw Bay in Bay City, Mich., June 26-29. Following the tournament, 200 pros and 200 co-anglers from the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit and other sanctioned tournament organizations and events will compete in the $1.4 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship for a top pro award of up to $400,000 cash and a top co-angler award of up to $150,000 cash. The championship will be held on the Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minn., Oct. 2-5.
Green Bay hosted the Wal-Mart RCL Championship last season when Dean Arnoldussen of Kaukauna, Wis., won $400,000 and instantly joined the sport’s top all-time money winners.
Entry fees for regular season tournaments are $1,250 for pros and $500 for co-anglers. A limited number of co-angler spots are still available in the next tournament. To enter, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call 270-362-5259.
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. Associate sponsors are Abu Garcia, Berkley, Eagle Claw, Laker, Plano and Solar Bat.
Opening Day ResultS — May 29, 2002
For complete results, visit FLWOutdoors.com
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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