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Dean Arnoldussen wins 400K in Green Bay
Six pros go into final day of Championship
Beginners luck brings $75 K to top co-angler
Paul Meleen moves into day 3 lead
Keenan weight tops 50 lbs at end of day 2
Day 2 dawns on Wal-Mart championship
Keenan Brothers take day 1 lead
Super bowl of walleye fishing begins in Green Bay
Green Bay To Host World's Richest Walleye Tournament
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Priority registration for Operation Walleye events to commence March 26
General RCL registration begins March 27
RCL 2001 Championship Schedule and information
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RCL Pro angler entry fee and purse
RCL Co-angler entry fee and purse
RCL 2001 RCL Championship Schedule of tournaments and information
One-Day Wonder slays them for second day in a row
by Jeff Schroeder - 5.Oct.2001
Meleen mounts 36-pound stringer, crushes fellow pro semifinalists
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Yesterday, on day two of the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship, pro fisherman Paul Meleen sauntered across the stage and casually weighed in the biggest five-walleye stringer of the day at 30 pounds, 13 ounces. On the first day Meleen laid a goose egg, and his 30-pound comeback push into today's semifinals prompted RCL host Charlie Evans to dub him the “One-Day Wonder.”
The moniker certainly seemed appropriate – for all of about 24 hours.
At today's semifinal-round weigh-in, Meleen again unceremoniously strolled up to the podium and calmly placed five walleyes, one by one, into the basket. Growing in size with each fish up to the final two – both of which were longer than his extended arms – the limit of ‘eyes tipped the scale at a massive 36 pounds, 5 ounces. The appreciative Green Bay crowd went absolutely wild.
Meleen – who fished with and led co-angler champion Chris Jeanquart to victory – topped the next closest pro qualifier, second-place Mark Keenan, by over 8 pounds. While there were no Big Walleye awards handed out, there was no doubt fans saw the largest walleye of the tournament when Meleen heaved his biggest fish onto the scale by itself and it weighed 10 ½ pounds. Even his second largest fish would have taken Big Walleye awards the first two days, weighing in at around 9 ½ pounds.
Keenan, yesterday's leader, weighed in five fish worth 28 pounds today. The bulk of his stringer came on stretch where he and co-angler Leo Schlauch of Suamico, Wis., hauled in three walleyes at the same time.
“I had a ball,” said Schlauch. “Three fish on at the same time – I was about ready to jump in that water myself.”
Taking the third-place pro qualifying spot into the finals was local favorite Tom Zollar, who hails from Green Bay. He weighed in a nice five-fish stringer at 25 pounds, 11 ounces. “We hit them fast and hard and went out there and took care of those fish all day,” he said.
Following Meleen, Keenan and Zollar into the final round were the other Keenan and the remainder of their Wisconsin fishing team. Mark Keenan's younger brother Tom, of Hatley, placed fourth with four walleyes weighing 22 pounds, 13 ounces; Dean Arnoldussen of Kaukauna placed fifth with three big fish weighing 20 pounds even; and Patrick Neu of Forestville took sixth place with three walleyes weighing 17-9.
But it was Meleen, a man who found himself at the confluence of extraordinary circumstances Friday, who was the story. Not only did he stage the biggest comeback of the tourney on Thursday with the largest stringer of day one, he topped himself today with the largest stringer of the week. Now in command of the first qualifying spot of the richest professional walleye tournament in history – Meleen stands to win $400,000 tomorrow – there is a chance that he may not even compete Saturday. Right now his wife is at home and is expecting their first baby. She is eight days overdue.
“If she goes into labor tonight, I'm going home,” Meleen said following today's action. “Our first child is much more important than fishing.”
To add to his mental load, Meleen, of Onamia, Minn., is shouldering the hopes of the entire Minnesota pro walleye contingency since he is the only Gopher State native to make the finals. He is poised to repeat the success of his friend and co-worker Scott Glorvigen of Grand Rapids, Minn., who captured $300,000 in last year's inaugural RCL championship in Green Bay.
“We fish as a team from time to time,” Meleen said. “He's a buddy of mine.”
With all that to consider, Meleen is still sitting in prime position for victory. He said the reason he zeroed on day one was that he opted to fish the Fox River, hoping adverse conditions would drive others away from productive Green Bay. But the weather held calm that first day, and he was left with a lot of ground to make up.
“The first day the wind was supposed to blow and it didn't,” he said. “On day two I decided to go fishing. One of my weaknesses is that I'm not a river rat. I'm an open-water fisherman.”
So he hit Green Bay, and days two and three became history. He hopes his voyage onto the big water – which the forecast says will be much less hospitable – tomorrow will bring him similar success. His fishing spot on the bay hasn't let him down yet.
Asked if he can repeat his stellar performance for the third day in a row, a confident Meleen said, “If the weather prevails, absolutely.”
Final-round competition with the top six pros resumes at 7 a.m. Saturday
at Metro Park Boat Launch on Bay Beach Road in Green Bay. It will be followed
by the final weigh-in starting at 3 p.m. at the Green Bay Wal-Mart Supercenter
located at 2440 West Mason Street.
To register for competition or for more information about the Wal-Mart
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