Keenan Wins $300,000 as Wal-Mart Walleye Champion
RED WING, Minn. (Oct. 4, 2003) Pro Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis., collected $300,000 cash Saturday as winner of the $1.4 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship, held this week on the Mississippi River near Red Wing. Keenan outfished six final-round competitors Saturday and caught five walleyes weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces to emerge as the 2003 champion.
Pro Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis., collected $300,000 cash Saturday as winner of the $1.4 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship, held on the Mississippi River near Red Wing. (Photo by Jeff Schroeder)
To take the crown, Keenan had to prevail over some very tough conditions presented during the week by the formidable Mississippi River. Despite consistently sunny skies, cooler air temperatures had caused water temperatures to drop eight to 10 degrees over the past week. As a result, fewer limits and big fish were brought to the scales, but in true championship form, Keenan left the final weigh-in an exception to the rule.
I actually switched spots today, said Keenan, who finished second at the 2001 championship on the Fox River. I didnt think I could catch enough fish where Id fished the past three days. I went to a spot where Id done well in the past and fished Wally Divers on leadcore line in 7 to 8 feet of water. The bite got hot for about two hours, and they were snapping pretty good. Ive been wanting to fish this spot for four days, but the waters been dirty. I went yesterday, and the water had cleared up a bit. I thought I could win the tournament on it, so I saved it for this.
Keenans victory was especially sweet after his heartbreaking runner-up finish in 2001. Its awesome, Keenan said. Its everything I wanted it to be. Two years ago was a killer. I just prayed to get a chance to do this. I caught a lot more fish than I anticipated in this tournament, and I fished hard. I wanted to win something like this; its a dream come true. I know the three guys who have won this before, and it feels pretty good to join them.
As winner, Keenan was guaranteed $150,000 cash, and because he was a qualified Ranger pro, he claimed a $150,000 bonus for a total award of $300,000 cash.
Rounding out the top six pros are Scott Allar of Welch (three walleyes, 10 pounds, 3 ounces, $75,000); Steve Lamb of Nashville, Tenn. (four walleyes, 6 pounds, 9 ounces, $32,500); Jim Schulta of Hazelhurst, Wis. (four walleyes, 6 pounds, 2 ounces, $21,000); Doug Vandersteen of Lundar, Manitoba (two walleyes, 3 pounds, 12 ounces, $20,000); and Jerry Hein of Stillwater (one walleye, 2 pounds, 10 ounces, $16,000).
The tournament kicked off Wednesday from Treasure Island Resort and Casino, where 220 pros and 220 co-anglers competed for two days for one of 12 semifinal-round slots in each division. Co-angler competition concluded Friday, with Darrell Archey of Great Falls, Mont., claiming $120,000 cash as the co-angler champ. The pro field was whittled to six for Saturdays competition, with weights reset to zero.
The Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship field was comprised of anglers who qualified for the event via the $3.07 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour or other sanctioned tournament organizations. Pros and co-anglers were randomly paired each day and fished for a combined boat weight. In RCL competition, pros supply the boat and tackle and control boat movement.
The Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship is administered by FLW Outdoors and named after boat manufacturers Ranger, Crestliner and Lund. FLW Outdoors, the worlds 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 worlds 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 Americas 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.
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