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  • Updated: 09/03/03

  • September 1, 2003

          PWT  Million Dollar Showdown Set for Houghton, Michigan Sept. 12-14

        Brainerd, Minnesota.....In the competitive walleye game, it's known
    as the Million Dollar Showdown.  When the elite walleye celebrities arrive
    in Houghton, Mich. to compete in the Mercury Championship Sept. 12-14,
    they'll fish for "Big Walleye Bucks."

        The largest prize is $1,000,000 from Quantum Performance Tuned rods
    & reels to the contender who breaks the Michigan state record walleye, 17
    pounds, 3 ounces.  The world's best walleye anglers qualified by fishing the
    prestigious In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tour this season.

        They're now headed to Houghton, in the region known as Michigan's
    Upper Peninsula, following life-long dreams of fishing for a living.  "From
    what I've seen before the closed period, walleye fans will be impressed with
    the size of the fish," said Angler of the Year Bill Ortiz, Dodgeville, Wis.
    He leads the 51-man field for scoring the most points through six qualifying
    tournaments.  He cashed checks in all tournaments, netting $73,700 this year
    -- so far.  Ortiz faces a distinct challenge.  He is eligible to win
    $250,000 from Mercury Marine if he also wins the Championship.  "This
    incentive is one of the reasons Mercury powers about 75 to 85 percent of the
    walleye boats on tour," Ortiz said.  "I will aim high, and fish hard to win
    the bonus money."

        Ortiz already won the $25,000 PWT Angler of the Year award and the
    $10,000 Mercury bonus, plus more than $100,000 in sponsor incentives.  He
    hopes to land a product endorsement with his "signature brand" on each item,
    another lucrative reason to fish walleyes.

        The 51 qualifiers will fish the Keweenaw Waterway, a 27-mile canal,
    plus Portage and Torch Lakes and a portion of Lake Superior (Keweenaw Bay).
    At the turn of the century, this region was the largest copper mining area
    in the world.  Now, tourists flock to the area summer and winter -- it
    averages 20 feet of snow each snowmobile season.  But, the waterway remains
    largely undiscovered when it comes to monster walleyes.

        Other Champions in the field include the Dee Zee East and West
    Division winners.  In the east, Dave Kraft, Bismarck, ND, with two second
    place finishes, and Ross Grothe, Apple Valley, Minn., who won the top spot
    in the west lead the divisions.  Grothe is no stranger to the hot seat,
    placing second in the 1996 Championship.  Kraft made 11 of the past 13
    Championships.  Each claimed a $1,000 bonus for their divisional feats.

        The Rookie of the Year honors go to the pro who places highest while
    fishing a division for the first time.  Kevin Schweder, Janesville, Wis.,
    earned that honor.  The 27-year old auto worker collected two paychecks with
    a 12th and a 20th for $7,000 this season.  The Mercury Top Amateur award of
    $4,000 went to top ranked amateur (must have fished a 3-tournament division)
    Aaron Abaurrea, Fargo, ND.  He purchased a boat from one of the pros, with
    intentions of turning pro in 2004.  Competing with the pros will come about
    seven months earlier than planned.  His prizes included two top-of-the-line
    Pflueger spinning rods and reels, a Mercury outboard, a Lowrance GPS and
    other items he will need as a pro.

        Only one angler, Perry Good, has competed in every PWT event and all
    14 Championships.  His long career in competitive fishing includes four PWT
    victories.  He relocated from the Twin Cities to Brainerd, Minn., just prior
    to aiming his Lund and Mercury towards Houghton.  The original Champion,
    Mark Martin, Twin Lake, Mich., will sit out his first Championship, but
    said, "It was a good ride while it lasted, and that first Championship win
    propelled me into being a full-timer at what I love.  I'll be in Houghton,
    and urge every walleye fan to get there."

        The Championship occurs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12-14, in
    Michigan Technological University's MacInnes Ice Arena.  Photos, lists of
    qualifiers and their statistics are posted on the PWT web site,

        The PWT is an integral element of the In-Fisherman Communications
    Network headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and PRIMEDIA, America's
    leading producer of targeted media. PWT sponsors include: Mercury Marine,
    Lund, Berkley Gulp!, Trilene, PowerBait, Realtree, Miller High-Life, Nissan,
    Frenzy, Lowrance, MinnKota, Optima Batteries, Gander Mountain, Blue Fox,
    Northland Fishing Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Coleman, Storm,
    Eagle Trailers, Raymarine, Rapala, Matzuo, Pflueger, Ram rod holders, Drift
    Control, DeeZee, Cotton Cordell, Seal Skinz, Aqua-Vu, IMCO, Plano,
    KeepAlive, Stowmaster.net, Quantum Performance Tuned rods & reel.

    Julie Magnuson
    Two In-fisherman Drive
    Brainerd, MN 56425

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