There were two walleye tournaments in Iowa this weekend. Right here on the Iowa Great Lakes, of course, was the long-awaited walleye opener. At the same time, the I.O.W.A. Team Walleye Tournament held its second qualifier of the year on Sunday at Clear Lake.
The team of Bruce and Terry Sparks from Des Moines followed up their 10th place finish at Storm Lake with a first place finish at the FCIS "Anglers Choice" Insurance Clear Lake qualifier to move into a first place tie for the I.O.W.A. Team of the Year honors.
The Sparks duo weighed a five-fish weight of 9.10 pounds to take the $1940 first place check, the Cabela's Family Team Award and the Smooth Move Seat Award of two $75 certificates.
Second place and a check for $1160 went to the father-son team of Randy O'Tool and Ryan O'Tool from Mason City with a two-fish weight of 6.46 pounds. They also took the optional Big Fish Pot of $370 for their 4.57-pound walleye.
The team of Scott Roehlk and Ken Mitchell from Davenport took home third place and a check for $870 with a five-fish weight of 6.32 pounds. In addition they pocketed the $500 Lund Bonus for the highest placing team fishing out of a Lund boat.
Locally, the team of Carl and Dan Griese from Dolliver finished in 12th place with a weight of 3.57 pounds.
The winners boated their last two fish in the final five minutes to seal the deal! Instead of fishing the main lake, they focused on triggering the big fish in the little lake. Terry said, "We had three fish, a 22, 18 and 14_ incher going into the last 10 minutes. Bruce said to make one more pass. We both lost two good fish, so we decided to make one last troll." The result? Their final two keeper fish, all with five minutes to spare!
They trolled with a 1/8-ounce Lindy No Snag weight, a three-foot snell with a chartreuse bead and red hook tipped with a leech. They both felt that jig zagging up into two foot of water and then back off into nine foot was the key to their success.
The O'Tool team also stayed in the little lake in hopes of popping bigger fish. "We figured that was where the big fish would come from," said Randy. The gamble paid off with the big fish of the tournament, but they came up one big fish shy of winning it all. They pulled 1/16-ounce green jigs tipped with a minnow. They, too, caught a lot of sub-legal fish.
Roehlk and Mitchell pulled bottom bouncers and a plain hook tipped with a nightcrawler in 11-12 feet of water on Hy-Vee Reef. "We caught over 40 walleyes today, but most of them were 13-13_ inchers. Plus, lots and lots of yellow bass."
After pulling up on their spot and before Roehlk had his trolling motor in the water, Mitchell already had a legal fish in the livewell. Rohlk also felt that the corkscrew presentation of the new Mustad Slow Death Walleye hooks seemed to make a difference.
With two tournaments now over, the I.O.W.A. teams begin making plans for the third qualifier, the Lake Rathbun Brightwell's Boathouse qualifier on Sunday, May 31. Tied for first place in the race for Team of the Year race with the Sparks team is the team of Mike Heller from West Des Moines and Jessie Roush from Clive.
All of the latest news on the I.O.W.A. circuit can be found at the I.O.W.A. website (www.walleyepromotions.com). Anglers interested in learning more about the I.O.W.A circuit can call (515) 571-1085 or they can email the I.O.W.A. staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corporate sponsors for 2009 include Lund Boats, Mercury Outboards, ShoreLand'r Trailers, Brightwell's Boathouse, MinnKota, Humminbird, ABU Garcia, Cabela's, Smooth Move Seat Mounts, FCIS Anglers Choice Insurance of Forest City, King's Pointe Resort of Storm Lake and Wright County Motors of Belmond and Clarion.