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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
Special mailing List
RCL 2001 On-Line Entry Form
RCL 2001 tournament Rules
RCL 2001 tournament Yamaha Cash bonus
Priority registration for Operation Walleye events to commence March 26
General RCL registration begins March 27
RCL 2001 Championship Schedule and information
RCL 2001 Championship lodging information
RCL Pro angler entry fee and purse
RCL Co-angler entry fee and purse
RCL 2001 RCL Championship Schedule of tournaments and information
Six pro anglers chase after $400,000
by Jeff Schroeder - 6.Oct.2001
Final day takes off at 2001 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Summer came to a crashing halt as temperatures plunged below freezing on the frozen tundra of Green Bay Saturday morning, but, not surprisingly, few of the pro finalists in the 2001 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship seemed to notice. Their attentions were focused squarely on the task at hand: to catch three of the biggest walleyes they could and cash in on $400,000.
“I think 18 to 20 pounds will win the tournament with three fish,” said a bundled-up Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis. Tom Keenan and his brother Mark, of Appleton, Wis., have both led this tournament during the week. They and two other finalists, Dean Arnoldussen of Kaukauna, Wis., and Patrick Neu of Forestville, Wis., are fishing buddies and have all shared the same location about 50 miles out on Green Bay throughout the week. All four of their boats were headed that way at takeoff this morning, but expect their camaraderie to turn into competitiveness Saturday.
“It's every man for himself,” Mark Keenan said yesterday. “It's going to be key that, if you get a fish on, you get it in the boat.”
Local favorite Tom Zollar of Green Bay was also planning on making a 45-mile run onto the frigid waters of Green Bay, shouldering the hopes of many in the hometown crowd along the way.
Semifinal-round leader Paul Meleen of Onamia, Minn. – the only finalist not from Wisconsin – is staring down the barrel of what will likely be the most memorable week of his life. Not only is he contending to win the world's richest pro walleye tournament, his wife is at home pregnant and expecting their first child any day.
“It could be the two best days of my life,” he said, “other than when my wife said, ‘I do.'”
Today's final weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the Green Bay Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 2440 West Mason Street.
Sunrise: 6:57 a.m.
Arnoldussen wins 2001 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship
by Jeff Schroeder - 6.Oct.2001
Collects $400,000, largest cash prize in walleye tournament history
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Dean Arnoldussen doesn't view himself as a professional fisherman. Instead, as he put it, “I just love to catch fish.”
Well, he's really loving it now. The Kaukauna, Wis., native caught three walleyes weighing a collective 11 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday and won the Pro Division of the 2001 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship. He collected a history-making $400,000 for the victory.
“I don't think it has sunk in yet,” said a wide-eyed Arnoldussen, hands clutching the oversized cardboard check written in his name for $400,000. “I'm a pretty reserved guy, but I'm thrilled.”
He should be. Arnoldussen estimated his previous career earnings as a competitive fisherman topped out at $7,000. Today he took home the largest payout ever won by a professional walleye angler in a tournament - and he did it by fighting through a terrible day of fishing.
This morning, frigid temperatures and a wrong-way wind greeted the six pro finalists as they took off from the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay. Going for broke, all six competitors headed out onto the big water of Green Bay despite foreboding conditions. Four of them – Arnoldussen, brothers Tom and Mark Keenan and Patrick Neu – were all friends using a team approach and were headed to the same profitable fishing location they had shared throughout the week.
Around 28 miles out near Ocono, Wis., the four boats stopped and called back to base for help. Green Bay was throwing 5- to 10-foot waves at them on their run, which not only slowed their progress but threatened their safety as well.
“Mother Nature threw everything she had at us,” said Neu, who hails from Forestville, Wis.
“It was like they let the wind out of our sails,” Arnoldussen said of the decision to stop.
All four anglers received permission to trailer their boats back to the takeoff point and relaunch onto the Fox River, which was much calmer but also less generous with fish. Plus, they had lost a lot of time making their futile attempt at Green Bay.
“I'm a father first and a fisherman second,” said Mark Keenan, a 37-year-old from Appleton, Wis. “I think I made the right choice.”
Things looked bleak for the four Wisconsin finalists, a tight-knit group of fishing buddies who this week came to be dubbed the “Posse.”
However, things soon turned around for two of them. Mark Keenan's younger brother Tom, of Hatley, Wis., nailed two keeper walleyes not more than 15 minutes after relaunching onto the river. Using No. 5 Shad raps in two to three feet of water, the fish weighed a collective 7 pounds, 7 ounces and earned him $75,000 for second place.
“On Tuesday I went to the river to practice a bit and I learned how to catch a few fish there,” Tom Keenan said. “And it earned me a lot of money.”
Arnoldussen, though, was the Posse-member best served by the decision to turn around. “I've fished the river my whole life and I found a couple of good spots,” he said.
Fishing under bridges near downtown Green Bay, he landed two walleyes trolling Shad raps on lead-core line with an offshore planer board. His last fish came using a fireball jig with a night crawler.
Meanwhile, back out on Green Bay, Friday's leader Paul Meleen of Onamia, Minn., had made it to his spot and was battling the swells – and catching fish. He couldn't muster the same kind of enormous stringers he produced on days two and three, however, and placed third with two walleyes weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces. He earned $37,500.
“I was fishing a shoal (near Henderson Point) with 12 to 17 feet of water,” he said. “But the 8- to 10-foot waves would drop (the water depth) down to six feet. … It was really tough, but I had to go. You saw what I did the first day on the river.” Officially, he caught zero fish on day one fishing the Fox River, but made the biggest comeback of the tournament after heading out to Green Bay on day two.
“He was crazy for going out there,” said Arnoldussen. “And we were crazy for attempting it.”
The rest of the field had a little less luck than the top three. Mark Keenan, Neu and Tom Zollar of Green Bay all laid goose eggs Saturday on account of the nasty conditions. Keenan and Neu simply couldn't recover in time to catch the Fox River walleyes. Due to tiebreakers, Keenan placed fourth and took home $25,000 while Neu placed fifth and won $16,000.
Zollar, like Meleen, braved big-bad Green Bay and got walloped by boat trouble and locomotion problems. “I knew it was going to be big today,” he said. “I went on and pretty much sunk the back of my boat.” He earned $12,000 for sixth place.
While they didn't all catch fish Saturday, the Wisconsin Posse still had cause to celebrate their strong collective performance at the 2001 RCL championship.
Said Tom Keenan, “I have no regrets. We placed one, two, four and five. It's going to be a big party tonight.”
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