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Arnoldussen parlays local angle into RCL Championship by David Rose
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
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RCL 2001 Championship Schedule and information
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RCL 2001 RCL Championship Schedule of tournaments and information
Arnoldussen parlays local angle into RCL Championship
by David Rose - 5.Nov.2001
Makeshift plan on day four proves to be the difference
On Oct. 6, Dean Arnoldussen was awarded walleye fishing's largest-ever payout, a whopping $400,000, for winning the Wal-Mart RCL Championship in Green Bay, Wis. Only a few weeks removed from one of the greatest and most lucrative victories in walleye fishing history, Arnoldussen is finally willing to tell the world the techniques and strategies that helped him snag the prestigious championship.
A mere 30 minutes from Arnoldussen's hometown of Kaukauna, Wis., the waters of Green Bay have been one of Arnoldussen's favorite walleye fishing destinations for many years. Consequently, Arnoldussen knew before the championship even started that tournament organizers had picked a prime time of the year to fish one of his favorite destinations.
“The walleye fishing in Green Bay is really at its best in fall,” said Arnoldussen. “They (walleye) start to show up when the water finally cools down to the magic 65 degree mark.”
‘Local hotspot' proves golden
Green Bay started seeing the all-important 65-degree temperatures at least two weeks before the start of the Wal-Mart RCL Championship. It was at this time that Arnoldussen originally found the tightly packed school of walleye that would keep him going during the first three days of the tournament. It was in this little known, local hot spot in the waters off of Green Island, located on the west side of Green Bay, that Arnoldussen started laying the foundation of his championship.
“As soon as the water cooled down, a good number of large walleye migrated to this spot. I marked these fish on the graph, and immediately put the underwater camera down to confirm they were walleye,” said Arnoldussen. “Then I trolled though the area, caught a few on harnesses, and then left that spot alone until the first day of the tournament. I didn't want anyone to know those fish were there.”
But Arnoldussen became a little nervous during the last four days of pre-fishing. He had other spots to fish just in case the walleyes moved away from the Green Island area, but they were not cooperating.
“I was marking a few fish here and there in my other spots and was again able to confirm they were walleye (in the area) with the underwater camera, but I never caught any of them – not even a hit,” he said.
As a result, on the first day of the championship, Arnoldussen was in the uncomfortable position of knowing that the school of walleye he had found two weeks earlier represented the only real chance of winning the title. But were the walleye still there? As the tournament began, Arnoldussen made the 43-mile, 90-minute, one-way trip to the Green Island area, where he and seven other tournament boats would fish. Luckily for him, the walleyes were still there.
“There are so many humps and dips in that area, it is very hard to learn just right where they are,” Arnoldussen said. “I have been out there plenty of times in the past years and still haven't been able to memorize that water.”
During Arnoldussen's first day of the tournament, he caught a 29-pound, five fish limit of walleye, all on Deep Diving Rip Sticks in a variety of colors – trailer trash pink, purple, and clown.
By day two, word had gotten out about Arnoldussen's honey hole. As a result, he ended up fishing along side 40 other tournament boats, which were scattered throughout the area. However, he still managed to boat three walleyes while using the same tactics, for a 19-pound total on day two. It looked as if it was going to be easy to get enough weight on day three to get him into the final round.
Murphy's law strikes again
Right off the bat on day three, Arnoldussen found that things just were not going to start out as planned. While bouncing through the rough seas on the way to Green Island, he found himself with a broken kicker motor. He stopped the boat, and along with his co-angler, attempted to fix it, but to no avail. The resulting problems caused the Green Bay native to get to his fishing spot a full 45 minutes later then expected. To make matters worse, he had no kicker for trolling. So, he did the only thing he could do. Discouraged about the broken motor, Arnoldussen kept the big outboard down, and started trolling with that.
However Arnoldussen's attitude quickly changed when his outside board went back, and his first fish was on. As he and his co-angler were reeling in their first walleye, the inside board went back, and the pair found themselves fighting their second walleye of the day. Within the first 10 minutes of fishing, Arnoldussen had his first two walleye.
His third walleye came to the boat within the hour. But soon the wind died down, the water became flat calm and the walleye quit hitting. Arnoldussen's three fish weighed in at 20 pounds even, and put him in the top six. More importantly, it allowed him to fish the fourth and final day.
No room for error
The final day is where local knowledge of the water really paid off for Arnoldussen. With gale force winds stopping him, and four other pros halfway to their Green Island destination, Arnoldussen found a significant portion of his fishing time wasting away. However, Arnoldussen would receive another important break as tournament officials gave the group permission to re-launch their boats in the safety of the Fox River. Although Arnoldussen hadn't recently pre-fished in the river, he had fished it hundreds of times before. But would his local knowledge pay off?
“Now all I was hoping for was enough fish to hopefully get me into second place,” he said. “I am still amazed that I did so well in such a small amount of time.”
Although he thought he knew where to go, Arnoldussen knew that precious
time was ticking away. On his way to a favorite spot, he had to motor slowly
through a long no-wake zone. So he thought, ‘What the heck, I have to go
through here slowly… I might as well fish.' Again, with the big motor running,
he set out a shallow running, clown-colored Rip Stick behind lead core
line, and trolled up the middle of the river. This is where his first fish
came from on the final day of competition. Once to his new destination,
one of many warm water discharges along the river, he attempted to troll
crawler harnesses. However, he found it too windy to control the boat while
moving so slowly.
“I had not a clue that I had done so well,” Arnoldussen added. “I thought there might be a chance I could get second, but never thought I would win after all that had happened. I still can't explain the feeling.”
When you're the 2001 Wal-Mart RCL Champion, no explanation is necessary.
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