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  • Updated: 09/13/03

  • Weather Forces PWT to Cancel Final Day at Bay de Noc; Kuffer Wins!

        Escanaba, Michigan......With winds howling at 25 mph and skies filled
    with lightening, In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) directors
    canceled the final tournament day at Escanaba, Mich.

        ³Waves were building to more than four feet off Portage Point,² said PWT
    tournament director Charlie Moore, after he ran about five miles into the
    Bay.  He also noted, ³The forecast was for 25 mph and stronger southwest
    winds.²  He noted that two-thirds of the field fished the Cedar River
    vicinity or Big Bay de Noc, a run of 25 to 30 miles from the Escanaba
    Municipal Marina.  

        Tournament directors met with the PWT Advisory Council members, advising
    them of the decision.  ³Safety is our Number One concern, and being safe
    means these men and women can fish another day,² Moore said.

        With the cancellation, pro Andy Kuffer, Fair Haven, Mich., day two
    leader, was named the winner of the Lowrance/Lund North Central Pro-Am.  He
    won $64,500, for his first PWT victory.  This is his fourth top 10 place
    finish in 21 PWT events. He ran spinners and nightcrawlers in the Big Bay de
    Noc Round Island area.  ³After catching two big fish on day two, I went to
    my Œsmall fish¹ spot and got all my slots (under 23 inches) and an
    8-pounder.  It was a good decision,² Kuffer said.

        Kuffer also advanced 25 places in the Dee Zee East Division to qualify
    for the Mercury Championship, set for Sept 12-14, at Houghton, Mich.  Dave
    Kraft, Bismarck, ND, leads the East Division top 10 into the Championship.
    A total of 51 anglers will compete, with a $1,000,000 prize available from
    Quantum Performance Tuned rods and reels if the Michigan walleye record,
    17.3 pounds, is broken.

        Of those fishing the entire PWT tour, pro Bill Ortiz, Dodgeville, Wis.,
    claimed the Angler of the Year title.  ³With the $25,000 prize from PWT and
    $10,000 from Mercury Marine and sponsorship contingencies, this is a quarter
    million dollar payday,² he said.  This season he finished in the money at
    every tournament (2nd, 6th, 15th, 16th, 34th and 36th, for total earnings of
    $73,700.  He has a previous PWT title, and in nine  years of PWT competition
    has won a total of $200,000.  If he also wins the Championship, it¹s another
    $250,000 from Mercury.  Keith Kavajecz, Kaukauna, Wis., 2002 PWT Champion
    and Angler of the Year leader going into the Escanaba tournament, finished
    second.  Gary Parsons, Glidden, Wis. was third.

        Final tournament results put John Gillman, Freeland, Mich., and Pat
    Schuette, Manitowoc, Wis., in second and third, for their biggest PWT checks
    to date, $20,000 and $13,000, respectively.  The top three anglers weighed
    48.04 pounds, 40.98 pounds and 39.74 pounds.  Amateur Bob Kubacki, Eagle
    River, Wis., won the Lund 17-foot walleye boat with a Mercury outboard on an
    Eagle trailer, a $15,500 prize.

        Many walleyes in excess of seven pounds came to the scales for the
    Miller Big Fish awards, including a 9.46-pounder, which paid $3,000 to pro
    Ronnie Rhodes, Lorain, Ohio, and amateur Wally Thiel, Heartland, Wis.
    Kuffer and amateur John Matchinski, Manistique, Mich., won $1,000 for their
    9-pounder on day one.  Kuffer and Matchinski won $500 and $300 for their
    Gander Mountain Heavyweight award caught on day one, 27.36 pounds.  Eric
    Naig, Cylinder, Iowa, won the $1,000 Coleman cool Under Pressure award for
    advancing 92 places.

        Other year-end results included naming the pro Rookie of the Year.
    Kevin Schweder, Janesville, Wis., won that honor for placing 12th, 20th and
    68th this season, winning $7,000.  He also qualified for the Championship.
    Also Championship bound is the Mercury Top amateur Aaron Abaurrea, Fargo,
    ND, who will represent all amateurs, and compete with the pros.  His goal is
    to turn pro in 2004, but the schedule has been moved up seven months.

        The PWT web site, www.professionalwalleyetrail.com, contains results and
    statistics, along with photos and information about the anglers.  A Mercury
    Real-Time Scoreboard posts results as soon as anglers weigh their fish.
    More details will be posted as the Championship approaches.

        Delta County Chamber of Commerce executive director Vickie Micheau and
    Great Lakes Sportfishermen fishing club representative Tom Polkey received
    PWT Key Awards for their year-long support and commitment to bringing the
    tournament to Escanaba.  They headed up the local organizing efforts, and
    directed hundreds of volunteers.  Local businessman, Jeff Richardson, owner
    of Richardson Jewelers, donated PWT Bulova watches to the top five pros and
    the top amateur.  At the Mercury Championship, he will donate a $3,000
    diamond and gold ring to the winner.
        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 & reels and the
    Delta Chamber of Commerce 1-888-335-8264.

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