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Walleye Bite Turns On at South Dakota's Bitter Lake

By Steve Weisman

GNWC Publicity Director With 20 teams catching six-fish limits, it was a real battle for the $1400 first place check at the South Dakota Region's Bitter Lake Tournament of the Grand National Walleye Cup (GNWC) held on Sunday, June 12. Cashing the first place check was the team of Jon Millim and Don Fellbaum from Webster, SD with a six-fish limit weight of 16.85 pounds. Holding down second place and a check for $700 was the team of Doug Iverson from Pierre, SD and Rolfe Behrend from Brookings, SD with a six-fish limit weight of 15.79 pounds. Gordon West and Mel Reilching from Watertown, SD took the third place check of $540 with a six-fish limit weight of 15.29 pounds. The Cabela's Big Fish Award of a $200 Cabela's shopping spree went to the team of Doug DeVries and Jason Drake from South Shore, SD with a 3.83-pound walleye. However, the optional Big Fish Pot of $280 went to Iverson and Behrend with a 3.81-pound walleye. "The teams on the South Dakota Region really hit Bitter Lake at the right time," said GNWC Tournament Director Greg Liebel. "It was a shallow water bite, and the teams really capitalized on it." Millim and Fellbaum pitched countdown Rapalas into the shallows over the weeds and then brought them back into six feet of water. Black and gold and one with an orange belly worked the best. However, it took until nearly 1:30 in the afternoon before anything happened. Then, as the winners noted, "Everything clicked." Fellbaum, "We checked several spots that had usually worked in the morning during pre-fishing, but we only had one fish. We used our trolling motor to move us along the edge of the weeds." According to Rolfe, their bite didn't take off until after noon either. They cast 1/8-ounce jigs tipped with white three inch Berkley Gulp! minnows into the shallows, snap jigged them back to the edge of the weeds and then let them drop down where the weeds ended. Rolfe said, "These fish are fat, like little footballs. We had never fished the lake before this week. We found the lake was full of freshwater shrimp, so we tried to snap jig the jigs back to look like the movement of the shrimp." West and Reilching used slip bobbers and jigs tipped with a minnow, drifting the bait slowly over the edge of the weeds. The Yo So Close Award, provided by AMFYOYO, manufacturer of the innovative stowable folding landing net, went to the three teams just finishing out of the money. They include Bryan Gaikowski from Watertown, SD and Mike Dorris from Madison, SD in 11th place; Mike Walerak and Tim Swank from Arlington, SD in 12th place; and Lance Peterson from Wood Lake, MN and Jason Schlapkohl from Canby, MN in 13th place. In the race for the South Dakota Region's Yamaha Outboards Team of the Year award, the team of Doug Iverson from Pierre, SD and Rolfe Behrend from Brookings, SD holds the lead with 14 points followed by the team of Todd Hight from Pierre, SD and Ron Gunn from Ft. Pierre, SD with 23 points. Next up on the South Dakota Region is the Spring Creek Tournament at Lake Oahe on Sunday, July 10. For those interested in entering this or any of the remaining qualifiers, call 1-800-890-FISH (3474), or email the GNWC at info@walleyecup.com. GNWC Executive Director Bernie Barringer said, "We have one tournament left in South Dakota. We welcome folks to check our website at www.walleyecup.com. Results from all seven regions, along with press releases and other information about the GNWC appear on the website." Major national sponsors for the GNWC include Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Lowrance Electronics, YoNet Folding Nets by AMFYOYO, Aqua-VU, Aqua Innovations, Cabela's and UpNorthOutdoors.com. National championship sponsors are Towtector Shield and the FoodSource Lure Corporation

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