-Presented by Berkley Gulp!
May 21, 2011—Sandusky, OH—In a stellar Great Lakes tournament marked by world-class fishing, great competition and trophy walleyes—including a new all-time big-fish record—Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit veterans Greg Yarbrough and Jeff Seyka finished strong to win the MWC’s Eastern Division stop on Lake Erie.
“It hasn’t totally sunk in yet,” said Seyka, of Milford, Michigan, on topping the field of 166 of the world’s best walleye anglers. “I’m getting texts from all over, congratulating us, from people I don’t even know.”
Indeed, the hard-fought, big-fish spectacle drew national media coverage, front-page headlines in fishing-friendly Sandusky, and caught the attention of anglers everywhere as a parade of walleyes topping 10 pounds crossed the Cabela’s MWC stage at Sandusky’s scenic Shelby Street Boat Ramp.
“It feels great,” grinned Yarbrough, a Port Clinton, Ohio, charter captain with more than two decades of experience pulling walleyes from the Great Lakes. He explained they targeted “resident” fish on shallow rock structures rising from depths of 30 feet off Pelee Island. Using a bow-mount trolling motor with assistance from their Mercury kicker outboard, the pair pulled purple and green spinner rigs with size 5 and 6 blades, trimmed with either nightcrawlers or 6-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Crawlers, at speeds of 1 to 1.2 mph. “Gulp! was key when white perch pecked our ‘crawlers apart,” Yarbrough noted.
“Crashing the breaks was key,” added Seyka, referring to the team’s tactic of trolling from deep water up onto the shallower breakline. To hit critical depths, the team used 22- to 42-foot letbacks of 10-pound Berkley Trilene mainline behind their planer boards, with ¾- to 1 ½-ounce inline sinkers and 5- to 6-foot fluorocarbon leaders.
Though longtime MWCers, 2011 marks the first season that Yarbrough and Seyka have fished the Circuit together. Their winning program at Sandusky produced a 10-fish MWC limit weighing a whopping 84.54 pounds—good for a $13,400 first-place check, along with a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card through the Cabela’s Angler Cash Program, $500 Berkley Baits Prize Package, $500 Cabela’s gift card for being the highest-finishing MWC Premier Team, $500 Lowrance Electronics HDS/Elite DSI bonus, plus the MWC’s Oxygenator contingency.
After leading on Day One, Pennsylvanians Rich Fike and Ryan Reiger placed second with 84.05 pounds, worth $6,200 plus a $300 Cabela’s gift card through the MWC’s Premier program. The Michigan team of Nate Seiferlein and Jason Kaniszewski placed third with 81.77 pounds, worth $3,900 in cash plus a $200 Cabela’s gift card.
Michiganders Walter Price and Chad Fett, of Lowell and Spring Lake, respectively, took home the $1,000 Ranger Cup contingency (along with $2,300 for 5th place), while Richard Haney, Arnold, Michigan, and Larry Smith, Mowhawk, Michigan, won the $500 Worldwide Marine Insurance bonus, along with $1,200 for 12th place. In all, the top 16 teams shared a $43,170 cash purse, plus thousands in contingencies and Big Fish Pot winnings.
The Imlay, Michigan, father-and-son team of John and John Murphy made MWC history when they broke the Circuit’s longstanding big-fish record of 12.65 pounds with a 13.25-pound Lake Erie behemoth on Day Two. The trophy fish earned $975 from the Big-Fish Pot, plus serious bragging rights in the walleye world. The Murphys credited their Lowrance HDS sonar unit for spotlighting baitfish and walleyes suspended 16 feet down over 27 feet of water in Mosquito Bay.
The magical Lake Erie fishery yielded a total 688 walleyes weighing a total of 4,278.08 pounds. The event was a harvest tournament by Ohio law, and the walleyes were donated to the local Amvets Post to aid their support of the Ohio Veterans Home. In turn, the Amvets hosted the rules meeting and provided volunteers, along with the City of Sandusky, led by Recreation Division Supervisor Jaclene Bahnsen and City Commissioner Diedre Cole.
Following Saturday’s weigh-in, the MWC and National Professional Anglers Association presented a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic, giving away great gifts including 50 free rods and reels, along with tackle packages courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle, a 4-hour sailing trip and a bike donated by the Shelby Street Boat Ramp.
This is the second stop on the MWC East Division’s 2011 season. The remaining tournament will be held on the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 26-28. The MWC’s 2011 trail is comprised of nine qualifiers in three divisions. Anglers fishing at least three events (from any division) accumulate points toward a berth in the no-entry-fee, $100,000 Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Championship; teams fishing four events are in the running for overall MWC Team of the Year honors and a $13,000 cash prize.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is entering its tenth season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Fishouflage, Versus (Vs.) Television Network and North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Energizer, O2 Marine Technologies, Northland Fishing Tackle, Ryjus, Reflections, Worldwide Marine Insurance, The Walleye Federation, Sea Grant and Wildlife Forever. Now heading into its 27th season, the Cabela’s MWC is the oldest team circuit in walleye fishing.