Brunz, Kunstman Lead Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour Event on Lake Erie
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (May 28, 2003) Pro Tom Brunz of Madison Lake, Wis., and co-angler Thomas Kunstman of Beaver Dam, Wis., caught a combined five walleyes weighing 47 pounds, 5 ounces Wednesday to kick off the four-day, $386,000 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour event on Lake Erie near Port Clinton. The tournament, presented by Yamaha, features more than 150 Pro Division anglers casting for a top pro award of $50,000 cash plus a fully rigged Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat. With Lake Erie walleyes in a spring-to-summer transition, RCL competitors expected to face a more challenging playing field than they would have just one month earlier. Bass are on the move on the monstrous waterway, but competitors still hauled in 773 walleyes weighing over 4,800 pounds. Even anglers farther down in the standings brought in heavy limits the 20th-place weight Wednesday was a whopping 39 pounds, 1 ounce.
Brunz and Kunstman trolled in open water with nightcrawlers to catch their tournament-leading walleyes. The pair enjoyed a rabid morning bite beneath cloudy skies before the sun came out and forced deeper-water fishing.
The fish bit really well in the morning for us, said Brunz, who has never ranked lower than 17th in his three seasons on the RCL Tour. We probably caught around 40 fish total. It was a little foggy and overcast, and we didnt have much wind today, which made it nice for fishing and running long distances. But around midday the sun came out and the water temperature started to come up, so we had to start looking a little deeper and our bite got considerably slower.
Kunstman parlayed Brunzs optimism into an auspicious RCL debut. I was pretty confident this morning when Tom and I went out, because he knew exactly where and how he was going to fish, Kunstman said. Confidence breeds confidence, and it brings a little luck with it. Im not sure I expected 47 pounds.
Finishing second were pro Edward Fiore of Ramsey, Minn., and co-angler William Vogel of Lafayette, Ind., with a five-walleye catch weighing 46 pounds, 9 ounces. Thomas Nordyke of Newport, Mich., and his co-angler partner, Dave Crawford of Maybee, Mich., combined for five walleyes weighing 45 pounds to finish third. In fourth place were pro Jim Klick of White Bear Lake, Minn., and co-angler Steve Anderson of Lovespark, Ill., with five walleyes weighing 44 pounds, 1 ounce, and rounding out the top five were David Kolb of Riverview, Mich., and his co-angler partner, Jim Miller of Spring Grove, Ill, with five walleyes weighing 43 pounds, 15 ounces.
Anglers take off each morning from Catawba Island State Park in Port Clinton at 7 a.m. Thursdays weigh-in will be held at Water Works Park in Port Clinton beginning at 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturdays weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4070 E. Harbor Road in Port Clinton beginning at 3 p.m.
Anglers from 20 states and Canada are competing in the lucrative tournament, which will award $386,000 in cash and prizes to the top 50 anglers in either division. The winning pro will collect $90,000 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat and trailer valued at $40,000. Co-anglers fish for a top award of $15,000 cash. 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 Saturdays final round, where anglers again start from zero.
Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour anglers compete in four regular-season tournaments in their quest to qualify for the $1.4 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship Oct. 1-4 at Treasure Island Casino and Resort on the Mississippi River in Red Wing, Minn. The Lake Erie event is the third regular-season stop.
The tour 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-sanctioned 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.
For more information about the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
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