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  • Updated: 09/03/03


    RED WING, Minn. (Aug. 29, 2003) – The fourth annual Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship will return to the Mississippi River near Red Wing Oct. 1-4 with a $1.4 million purse. The sport’s most lucrative tournament features 220 pros vying for a top award of as much as $400,000 cash, the largest payout in walleye-tournament history. Two hundred and twenty co-anglers will compete for a top award of $150,000 cash. 
        Last year, Dr. Bruce Samson of Minnetrista conquered the mighty Mississippi in Red Wing to claim $300,000 cash, and Samson will try to defend his title this year to again claim the tournament’s top prize.
        “Last year was a dream come true,” Samson said. “It changed my life and allowed me to just go fishing for a living. I’m planning on spending as many days (on the river) as possible, trying to understand the system. I expect a lot of competitors will have figured it out. I’m just excited to go there again. My goal is to finish 12th after two days, because then you start over. If I can finish in the top 12, then I can win.”
        According to RCL Tour pro Gary Roach of Merrifield, the amount of early autumn rainfall on the upper Mississippi will likely determine angler strategies. If the area has received significant rainfall, walleyes will likely be found in shallow backwater areas. If the weather has been dry, Roach is betting on a main-current bite. He says that live bait, including red-tail chubs, leeches and night crawlers, will likely claim the most walleyes, but don’t count out Wally Diver crankbaits, which will likely round out more than a few limits.
        Treasure Island Casino and Resort in Welch will host daily 7 a.m. takeoffs. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held at Treasure Island beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 1752 Frontage Road in Hastings beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
        The winning pro is guaranteed a cash award of $150,000. If the winner is a registered owner of a Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat, he will earn a $150,000 bonus, and if his boat is equipped with an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard, he will receive another $100,000 for a total cash award of $400,000. 
        The winning co-angler is guaranteed $75,000 cash and is eligible for a $45,000 bonus from Ranger, Crestliner or Lund if he is a registered owner. The winning co-angler will also receive a $30,000 bonus if his boat is equipped with an Evinrude or Yamaha for a total cash award of $150,000.
        Anglers scheduled to appear at the event include 2003 RCL Tour Angler of the Year Jason Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., who will be casting for his first RCL win. Scott Glorvigen of Grand Rapids, who won the inaugural RCL Championship in 2000, will be back to contend for yet another lucrative championship crown, and perennial contenders Tim Minnema of Markesan, Wis.; Mark Martin of Twin Lake, Mich.; and 2001 Champion Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, Wis., will also be in the hunt for the $400,000 top prize.
        Pros and co-anglers who finished in the top 35 in any of the four regular-season Wal-Mart RCL Tour events in 2003 qualified for the championship. The rest of the pro field comprises Ranger, Crestliner or Lund owners who competed in sanctioned tournaments, and the remaining co-angler spots were filled by participants in sanctioned events. With a $3.07 million purse, the RCL Tour is the world’s most lucrative walleye-tournament series.
        The full field will compete on days one and two for one of 12 semifinal-round spots in their respective division. Weights are cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine the top six pros who will compete in the final round. The co-angler winner is determined after day-three competition. Final-round pros start at zero and compete for one day for position and prize money.
        The Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship is administered by FLW Outdoors and named after boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund. FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing, is named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood. Other FLW Outdoors tournament trails include the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League for weekend anglers; the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world’s most lucrative bass-tournament series; the EverStart Series, designed as a pathway to the FLW Tour; the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League for weekend anglers; and the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.
        Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
        For more information about the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

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