The krugerfarms.com anglers had another strong NWT tournament on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, OH. Even though the tournament was unexpectedly cut down to one day, every one of them landed in the money! We sat down with Dusty Minke, Korey Sprengel and Bill Shimota again to get their thoughts.
So, first things first, how did you guys finish?
Dusty – I took home $11,000 for finishing in 9th place with 44.15 pounds.
Dusty on Lake Erie.
Korey – I took 16th place with 42.87 pounds and won $6,555.
Bill – I ended in 24th place with 41.11 pounds for $4,770 in winnings.
Nice job guys! What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?
Dusty – Honestly, I felt pretty good even though practice was short for me—I was only able to prefish Monday through Wednesday. The bite was good during practice and our krugerfarms.com walleye team had a game plan going into the event! We had a great crew; everyone pitched in and worked hard.
Bill – I was pretty confident going into the event, and I told myself that I would be disappointed if I came in with less than forty pounds. At the same time, I knew most of my competitors would have the same kind of prefishing experience so it would come down to getting the 9-10 pounders instead of 7-8 pound fish.
Korey – I thought that we all had a shot at having a good finish. Prefishing went great, as it did for everyone else, but we stumbled upon an area in prefishing that had quality fish that weighed more than average fish of the same length.
How much experience have you had fishing this specific location? How did the weather affect your prefishing?
Bill – I have competed in about eight tournaments on Lake Erie. The weather during practice was great; we were able to go where we needed to fish almost every day, which is pretty rare for Lake Erie.
Korey – This was my first tournament on Lake Erie but I felt confident because I had learned a lot about what to expect and where to look for the right fish. The weather was fairly good when we were prefishing, we only lost one day due to wind—the day before the tournament.
Dusty – This was the second event for me on Lake Erie. Like Bill said, the weather was nice for the short time I was prefishing but we had our work cut out for us and a lot of miles to cover because Canada was in play—I really put Sparkie, the Ranger Evinrude, to work! Peely Island and the Canadian side offer endless fishable water, making it hard to dissect in a short amount of time.
The tournament was postponed on Day One and didn’t start until June 15th. Why did that happen?
Dusty – There was a wind and small craft advisory—basically the waves were too big to let us out of the gate. We were running around 25 miles so that could have taken a long time in that wind…
Korey – The winds were gusting over 30 mph.
Dusty – …Some other teams were running 50 miles one way to the East, so I couldn’t imagine that would have been ideal in those conditions.
What were your thoughts when Day One was postponed?
Bill – I think it was a good call but I was disappointed because I was so excited to get out to those big walleyes again!
Korey – I was kind of relieved knowing that I was making a 25-mile run on the lake no matter the weather conditions, but it may have played to our advantage if we would have started the tournament on the 14th as planned.
Korey on Lake Erie.
Dusty – Honestly I was ready to go! But when I looked at the main water I could see it was brutal and that the tournament director made the right call! We prepare ourselves to compete and fish but when it comes down to it, the tournament has to consider the safety of the anglers. No matter what we have to respect the director’s call!
What tactics and lures did you use to fish?
Korey – We trolled Chartreuse Crawler harnesses with gold or antifreeze blades in Colorado, pulling them behind 3oz weights. The key was to keep moving around to find active fish—after about 2-3 passes on a school they would scatter or quit biting.
Bill – I pulled Jolly Roger Spinners and in-line weights.
Dusty – I was fishing with spinners and crawlers—using a mixture of VMC, Northland and Jolly Rogers spinners in Gold and Chartreuse with the gold-orange–green and chartreuse beads. I also used 1-1/2 and 2 ounce inline weights, fishing from 20 to 30 feet behind off-shore planer boards in 40 Feet of water. Typically, I’d be moving around .9-1.3mph. This was the first time I had only six rods in the boat for the tournament!
Did you have to adapt your methods because of the wind and weather?
Bill – The only thing we had to adapt to was the current; you really had to watch it every day and that would tell you how fast or slow you needed to troll.
Dusty – The day of the tournament was flat and calm, just like it was during prefishing, so no changes were needed. I did, however, learn to give myself more time to get in! The wind kicked up on the ride back which created big waves off of the waves created by pleasure boaters in the area. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t make it back in time.
You all did really well this tournament, but did you try any tactics that didn’t work?
Korey – During prefishing, I tried cranks but didn’t have much luck. I probably should have tried them more because this is how the tournament was won!
Bill – I didn’t really experiment with tactics. I’ve been on Lake Erie enough times to know what needs to be done and I didn’t waste any time trying new things.
Day two was cancelled due to weather. Do you think things would have turned out differently if you’d had a second tournament day?
Bill – Again it was a great call with safety in mind, but I was bummed because I felt I could move up in the standings with a second day to fish. That being said, when the smoke cleared, we were all pretty happy to end up in the money!
Bill on Lake Erie.
Korey – If we would have had a second day it might of played to our advantage a little—because we knew that we were going about half as far as some of the leaders…but it would be hard to say if that would have played out as we hoped.
Dusty – I definitely think it would have played out differently! That is why the NWT hosts two-day events. It allows the tournament to be won by someone who consistently brings in big bags. I feel that if we could have returned to our spot for a second day that we could have got them—but there are some things we will never know! Weather, wind, and currents change and the angler that adapts and finds them can have the advantage. However, I respect the decision to cancel day two because the wind got worse, which would have been really hard on the equipment and anglers.
When is your next tournament?
Dusty and Bill – NWT in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It will take place on July 26th and 27th.
Korey – My next tournament will be the MWC on Winnebago, June 28th and 29th.
Do you have any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?
Bill – If you ever have a chance to experience fishing on Lake Erie I would highly suggest it. Like they say, “There’s Lake Erie, and then there’s everywhere else!” Where else would you need an 8-pound average just to get a check?