Swank Wins $88,000 Wal-MArt Walleye League Finals
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (Sept. 8, 2003) Boater Darold Swank of Pierre, S.D., landed a two-day total of four walleyes weighing 12 pounds, 5 ounces to win this weekends Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League Finals on Lake Okoboji near Spirit Lake. Swank claimed an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat as winner of the first-ever championship event of the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League.
Swank caught two walleyes Saturday weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces to finish second and followed that up Sunday with another pair of walleyes weighing 3 pounds, 7 ounces to claim the victory. He keyed on sunken rock pumps in 40 to 45 feet of water with a perch- and bluegill-colored crankbait. Swank ranked 10th in 2003 South Dakota Division points standings to advance to the finals. Prior to his win Sunday, his best finish of the season was a fifth-place effort on Lake Sharpe in June.
Swank outfished his nearest competitor, second-place finisher Doug Iverson of Pierre, S.D., by 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Iverson caught a two-day total of four walleyes weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces to earn a Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat. Third-place finisher Jack Johnson of Pierre, S.D., finished third with a two-day total of 9 pounds, 11 ounces that earned him $2,000 plus a $1,000 bonus. (Ties are resolved by day-one standings.) Rounding out the top five boaters are Rocky Niewenhuis of Hartford, S.D., (four walleyes, 9 pounds, 10 ounces, $1,000 plus $500 bonus) and Matt Thompson of Maple Grove, Minn. (two walleyes, 7 pounds, 7 ounces, $750 plus $300 bonus).
Daron Wheelhouse of Pierre, S.D., won a Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat as winner of the Co-angler Division with a two-day catch of five walleyes weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces. The 22-year-old used a Hot Tots bait in green/chrome and blue/chrome colors to claim his tournament-winning walleyes in 10 feet of water.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Brad Graff of Hartford, S.D. (five walleyes, 11 pounds, 4 ounces, $1,000); Gordie Fiddler of Ray, Mich. (four walleyes, 9 pounds, 3 ounces, $750); Brian Hilgardner of Farmington, Minn. (two walleyes, 8 pounds, 14 ounces, $625 plus $250 bonus); and David Hanson of Baxter, Minn. (two walleyes, 7 pounds, 7 ounces, $500 plus $200 bonus).
Bonuses are awarded to boaters who are the registered owner of a Ranger, Crestliner or Lund boat and fish out of that boat during the tournament. Co-anglers earn bonuses if they are a registered owner of a Ranger, Crestliner or Lund.
The inaugural season of the $350,000 Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League featured four divisions Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin with three regular-season events each. Every angler who received weight credit in a tournament earned points that determined angler standings, and the top 25 boaters and co-anglers in year-end points standings of each division advanced to the no-entry-fee $88,000 RCL League Finals.
The entire field of 100 boaters and co-anglers competed Saturday to determine the top 15 boaters and co-anglers who advanced to Sundays final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
In Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League competition, boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired and fish together for a combined boat weight, with boaters competing against other boaters and co-anglers competing against other co-anglers.
The success of the $3.07 million Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, featuring the worlds best walleye anglers and most lucrative payouts, resulted in high demand for weekend walleye tournaments designed for working anglers. Thus began the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League, which is administered by FLW Outdoors, the worlds leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the worlds most lucrative bass-fishing 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 League, call (270) 252-1000 or visit FLWOutdoors.com.
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