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  • Updated: 06/08/04


    SPIRIT LAKE, N.D. (May 26, 2004) – Nick Johnson of Elmwood, Wis., and co-angler John Blanchard of Crystal, Minn., landed a five-walleye limit weighing 28 pounds, 6 ounces Wednesday to lead the four-day, $401,750 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour stop on Devils Lake. The event is the third of four regular-season tournaments on the $3.19 million tour and features 174 pros chasing a top award of $90,000 and 174 co-anglers fishing for a top award of $15,000.  
       Johnson and Blanchard caught their fish on leeches while fishing trees in 6 to 9 feet of water to open a slim 14-ounce lead over their closest competitors, pro Tim Reitan of Sabin, Minn., and co-angler James Muntean of Maplewood, Minn., who caught a limit weighing 27 pounds, 8 ounces. 
       Recent unseasonably cool temperatures in the low- to mid-60s and water temperatures in the low-50s conspired to make fishing conditions difficult despite sunny skies and a gently breeze Wednesday. Anglers agree, however, that there is no shortage of 4- to 5-pound walleyes in the sprawling 150,000-acre lake. The trick is getting them to bite. 
       “We had one fish that probably weighed 8 pounds and another that probably weighed 7 pounds,” said Blanchard, an RCL League boater in the Minnesota Division who is fishing his third RCL Tour event. “We hit four different spots and caught fish at all but one. There were four or five boats around us casting crankbaits at pretty much every stop, too, but the leeches seemed to produce better.”
       If conditions continue to warm and winds stays calm, Blanchard predicts the leech bite will continue to improve. Windy conditions, however, could favor the crankbait bite. 
       Rounding out the top five teams are Mark Courts of Harris, Minn., and co-angler Brad Barth of Plymouth, Minn. (five walleyes, 27 pounds, 5 ounces); Shannon Kehl of Menoken, N.D., and co-angler Bradly Kjar of Fargo, N.D. (five walleyes, 24 pounds, 1 ounce); and Irvin Kraus of Powell, Wyo., and co-angler Jeffrey Edwards of North Oaks, Minn. (five walleyes, 23 pounds, 13 ounces).
       Overall, 160 boats representing 21 states and Canada weighed in 558 walleyes, including 61 five-walleye limits. The day’s catch totaled 1,879 pounds, 2 ounces. 
       Anglers take off each morning at 7 from Spirit Lake Casino and Resort, which is located at 7889 Highway 20/57 in Spirit Lake. Thursday’s weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. at the resort. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins start at 3 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located at 210 Highway 2 W. in Devils Lake. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins. 
       Pros and co-anglers fish for a combined boat weight and are randomly paired each day. The top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers advance to the one-day semifinal round Friday based on their two-day opening-round catch. Weights are cleared Friday, and only the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers advance to Saturday’s final round where the winners are determined by the heaviest two-day weight. Cash awards are presented to the top 60 anglers in each division.  
       Named after boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund, the RCL Tour is the world’s most lucrative professional walleye-fishing series. This is the second of four regular-season stops en route to the $1.4 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship on the Mississippi River in Moline, Ill., Sept. 29 – Oct. 2 where pros will fish for as much as $400,000 cash and co-anglers will chase as much as $150,000. 
       The RCL Tour is administered by FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned 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. FLW Outdoors is named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.
       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 more information about the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

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