Green Bay, Wisc.—Oct. 8, 2016—Randall Gaines and Mike Rhoades conquered both big-water and river bites to win the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit 2016 World Walleye Championship Oct. 6-8.
The pair led all three days, topping the 48-team field with daily five-fish limits weighing 27-11, 7-02 and 17-15 for a 52-pound, 12-ounce total weight.
Presented by title sponsor Cabela’s, the prestigious event saw the top qualifiers from the circuit’s 2015 season battle for their share of more than $100,000 in cash and prizes on Wisconsin waters of Green Bay and the Fox River out of Green Bay’s Metro Park.
“This is one of those pinnacle events that you always dream of winning,” said Gaines, of Salem, Ohio. “It’s good closure for a great year and will light the fire all winter long to get after it again next spring. I’m just so excited.”
“It’s a little unbelievable but I’m very happy,” added Rhoades, of South Bend, Indiana. “Earlier in the week, I wouldn’t have believed this was going to happen.”
Indeed, they endured a challenging practice period that started out tough. “We didn’t catch a fish our first day here,” Gaines noted. “But we just kept working, trying different things and fortunately peaked at the time of competition, so it turned out to be the perfect storm for us.”
On Green Bay, the five-year circuit veterans made a 40-mile run to an area near Sturgeon Bay where they vertically fished swimming jigs weighing up to 1¼ ounces on bottom at the base of a sharp drop-off in 60 to 70 feet of water.
“Slow lifts and tight-line drops were key,” said Rhoades, explaining that they used fast-action baitcasting outfits spooled with superbraid mainline capped with a two-foot, heavy fluorocarbon leader to limit tangles.
When the field was restricted to the Fox River on day two due to gale force winds, they trolled Berkley Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows behind planer boards.
Gaines and Rhoades collected a cool $15,000 in cash for their efforts, along with custom trophies and championship rings.
Wisconsin’s Michael Lenarduzzi and Douglas McDonough pushed the leaders throughout the tournament, holding second place with 26-07, 7-08 and 13-08 catches for 47 pounds, 7 ounces. They pocketed $9,255 including the $7,000 second-place cash payout, plus the $1,000 Ranger Cup contingency, $500 Lowrance Electronics bonus, $200 Okuma Reels award and $550 cash for second place in the MWC Big Fish Pot.
Rounding out the top five were:
3rd: Tommy Skarlis, Jeff Lahr, 42-03, $3,500
4th: Steve VandeMark, Jerry Fox, Jr., 41-06, $3,000
5th: Mike Dorris, Brian Tordsen, 37-14, $2,000 plus $370 from the Big Fish Pot
In all, the Cabela’s MWC awarded more than $147,000 in end of the season cash and prizes, including Team of the Year and Championship payouts. The circuit provided a 174 percent Championship payback and 137.5 percent overall payback on entry fees for the season.
A total of 545 walleyes weighing 1,274 pounds, 2 ounces crossed the scale during the three-day tournament in the Cabela’s MWC’s catch-and-release format. South Dakota’s Brian Steichen and Shawn Carl earned $925 cash plus the $200 Abu Garcia bonus for catching big fish of the event, an 8-pound, 10-ounce trophy.
Great crowds gathered riverside to watch the action at Green Bay Metro Park. To the delight of young walleye fans and their families, the Cabela’s MWC, National Professional Anglers Association and Pure Fishing presented a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after Friday’s weigh-in. Youngsters got to meet MWC anglers, learn about fishing and conservation, and received a free rod-and-reel combo courtesy of the NPAA.
Adding to the excitement, the event was being filmed for national television airing on Federation Angler TV, which appears on the Pursuit Channel.
To view image galleries from the each of the three days, along with team photos from the rules meeting and a special ceremony at the Green Bay Cabela’s commemorating the Cabela’s MWC’s induction into the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame ceremony on Oct. 5,
Under the umbrella of The Walleye Federation (TWF), the Cabela’s MWC is open to avid walleye anglers from all walks of life. The 2017 schedule includes qualifiers on the Illinois River March 17-18, the Detroit River April 7-8, Big Stone Lake April 28-29, Green Bay May 19-20, Lake Winnebago June 2-3, Devils Lake July 21-22, and the St. Marys River Aug. 25-26.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is concluding its 15th season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official Circuit sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Abu Garcia, Lowe Equipment Attachments, Lowrance Electronics, Mercury Marine, Ranger Boats and The Walleye Federation. Associate MWC sponsors include: AirWave Pedestals, G-Juice, MotorGuide and Okuma. For more information, visit masterswalleyecircuit.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (580) 765-9031.