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  • Updated: 10/23/03


    Minnetonka, MN-"We've won other tournaments, but nothing like this.  This is
    special.  Dad and me, world walleye champions.  It's awesome.  It's a great
    ending to the season."
    These were the words of an emotional, teary-eyed son, Tim Minnema (Markesan,
    WI), after he and his father, Jim (Randolph, WI), won the 2003 Cabela's
    Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) World Walleye Championship.
    Forty-five of the country's best professional walleye angling teams competed
    in the championship which took place October 16-17-18 on pools 9 and 10 of
    the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, WI.  The field consisted of the
    top 40 point accumulating teams who competed during the 2002 MWC season and
    the top five finishing teams from the 2003 Cabela's National Team
    Championship.  They were allowed to weigh five fish per day measuring 15
    inches or more.
    The highly-skilled teams faced the lowest water levels in over two decades,
    resulting in a lack of current which walleyes prefer, along with an
    abundance of baitfish.  As one angler put it, "It's a tough bite.  Why would
    the fish go after what we're using when they have a buffet of shad in front
    of their noses?"
    All of the teams were required to launch in pool 10.  Yet, a majority of
    teams opted to fish pool 9, which presented the added challenge of locking
    through the dam twice a day.  Because barges are given preference to lock
    through first, several teams failed to return to the pool 10 check-in area
    on time and were penalized.  Teams returning up to 15 minutes late forfeited
    half of their daily fish weight and lost their entire weight after that
    The prevailing strategy was to catch five 15 inchers, then upgrade to larger
    fish, and pool 9 had been producing larger fish prior to the competition
    days.  At the pro/am event held the day before the start of the
    championship, pool 9 surrendered the heaviest walleye of the event-a 9.67
    lb. lunker caught by Bob Bodin and Scott Mann of Red Wing, MN, and their
    local amateur, Scott Wahl.
    Employing the above tactics, the Minnemas went to work.  According to Jim,
    "Since he was a kid, Tim loved to fish and everything and that goes with it.
    He put together our game plan-where we were going to fish and what we were
    going to use.  I'm really proud of him. Winning the championship is
    something that fathers dream of and now it happened to us."

    Per Tim, "First off, we kept an eye on the barge traffic and were in touch
    with the lock master by cell phone (permitted by the rules) as to when
    barges might be locking through so we wouldn't get stuck in the lock and get
    penalized.  We started below the dam in pool 9, which was mostly a sauger
    bite.  They were small and not the quality fish to win the championship.  We
    moved down to an area we previously located and caught a two pounder and
    continued to catch fish.  We were trolling firetiger colored crankbaits from
    27-lb. leadcore line with an 8 foot Berkley 14/6 lb. FireLine leader.  For
    added attraction, I hand painted the bills of the lures in orange and
    chartreuse and some blue on the sides of the lures.
    "The key to our presentation was boat speed and direction.  Most of the
    teams were slow trolling upriver.  We trolled downriver at 3-½ mph, which is
    fast when it comes to trolling.  We figured, even though the fish had so
    much natural food available to them, the high-speed lure presentation would
    trigger them into striking-it worked!  Dad never took his hand off the
    trottle on our Mercury 4-stroke kicker.  He zigzagged along the breakline
    between 10 and 12 feet with perfection.  The fish that won it for us came on
    the second day, a 4-½ pounder from pool 10 on a flat adjacent to the main
    channel near the Yellow River inlet."
    The Minnemas allowable three day 15 fish limit totaled 29.03 lbs.  For their
    crowning achievement, the champs collected $27,500 in cash plus $1,000 for
    the highest placing Ranger boat owner in the Ranger Cup tournament series.
    Besides elaborate trophies they also were awarded customized gold
    championship rings.
    Second place finishers, a mere pound from the title, were Tom Diercks (Hager
    City, WI), and Jim Siewert (Lake City, MN), with 28.03 lbs. worth $13,000.
    Only they and the Minnemas were able to catch daily limits.
    Third place went to the father/son team of George and Russell Gahagan
    (Sheboygan, WI).  Their 14 fish weighed 27.80 lbs., earning them $9,000.
    The entire field shared the $100,000 cash purse.
    A total of 301 walleyes and saugers, weighing 537.99 lbs. were caught in the
    MWC catch and release format.  Cabela's employees and members of the Falling
    Rock Walleye Club assisted the MWC staff in the operation of the
    The Cabela's MWC World Walleye Championship will be aired on Saturday,
    November 15, at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on The Outdoor Channel.
    Repeated airings will be November 17-8:30 a.m. and November 19-1:00 a.m.
    Tournament coverage and related articles also appear in the North American
    Fisherman magazine, the official publication of the MWC.  All circuit events

    are conducted from the Cabela's state-of-the-art, computerized mobile
    transport vehicle, which is specifically designed for tournament television
    coverage.  Additionally, all MWC tournaments serve as qualifying events to
    the 2004 Cabela's National Team Walleye Championship.
        Further championship and circuit information can be obtained from
    the MWC website, www.masterswalleyecircuit.com, e-mail,
    events@masterswalleyecircuit.com, or by calling the MWC, 877-893-7947.  Next
    years schedule includes:
    2004 MWC Central Division:
    March 27 & 28:  Illinois River, Spring Valley, IL
    June 26 & 27:  Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, WI
    September 18 & 19: Leech Lake, Walker, MN

    2004 MWC Eastern Division:
    May 22 & 23: Lake Ontario, Henderson Harbor, NY
    July 17 & 18: Lake Chautauqua, Jamestown, NY
    August 7 & 8: Saginaw Bay, Linwood, MI

    2004 Cabela's MWC World Walleye Championship*
    October 13-16: Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien, WI.  
    *for 2003 season qualifiers

        In addition to Cabela's, MWC sponsors include-Berkley Trilene, Lindy
    Legendary Tackle, Lowrance Electronics, Mercury Marine, North American
    Fishing Club, Ranger Boats, Cotton Cordell, The Outdoor Channel, MotorGuide,
    Yum, Daiichi Hooks, Progressive Boat Insurance, Walleye Assassin Lures,
    Optima Batteries, Panther Marine and the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

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