Rough water makes fishing tough at Walleye Derby

Mother Nature made for an unstable playing field for the opening day of the 9th Annual Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby on Friday with waves building to seven feet, keeping the anglers “reeling & rocking.” More than a few teams reported having a teammate getting seasick and hanging over the side.

The derby rules allowed for anglers to set lines in the water at 6 a.m. so many anglers took advantage of the relatively calmer water to head out toward their target area and ride with the waves once the wind picked up. It didn’t take long and by 9 a.m. it was a one-way (direction) troll for most anglers. With two more days scheduled in the derby, few anglers were willing to give up specific information on where they got their fish and what they were using but many of the teams reported that they found the walleye in front of Dunkirk in the 75 to 90 foot depths.

Because of the strong winds, most anglers were unable to utilize planner boards or fish as many fishing rods as they were allowed to use in calmer weather. Many anglers reported using 10 colors of leadcore line to seek out fish closer to the bottom as well as dipsey divers and side planner boards as well as down riggers. One half declared taking most of their fish on worm harnesses while the other half declared using strictly stick baits. Go Figure!

The weigh station, which is located at the lower parking lot at the Con Club, opened at 1 p.m. with about 50 teams weighing in by 3:30 p.m. and the remainder tricking in around the 6 p.m. deadline. Team 31, with Captain Dennis Gaul, Bill Gunn and Bob Slocum came in early with the largest walleye of the day, weighing 10.21 pounds and two other heavy fish for a total weight of 25.90 pounds. The guys collected $300 for the biggest fish Friday, $276 from the $30 Calcutta for second heaviest total weight and $475 for the optional $30 Big Eye Calcutta. Team 58, Captain Carl Lanski, Dan Chapman and Glenn Chapman later in the day took the lead from Gaul with a total weight of 26 pounds by weighing in three walleye that weighed 9.22, 8.50 and 8.28 pounds. The $30 and $100 Calcuttas paid out to the Lanski team $460 and $609 respectively.

Team 3 – Captain Adam Zwack, Mike Russell and Pat Bohen – put together the third heaviest three-fish weight for Friday with the aide of a 9.62 pound walleye. They were in second place for most of the day for heaviest walleye, but got knocked out of the top three by Mike Munson who weighed in a 9.82 pound fish and Barry Ball Team 91 who entered the second heaviest walleye, weighing in at 10.15 pounds. Munson took home $100 for third place and an additional $190 for the $30 Big Eye Calcutta. The optional Calcutta paid off for Zwack with a $184 payout for the $30 Calcutta and $435 for the $100 Calcutta.

The $100 Calcutta provided payouts for the next seven heaviest three-fish total weights with Team 30 – Jim Dolly Sr. – taking fourth with a total weight of 24.61 pounds, good for $348. Team 39 – Donald Mullen – with a total weight of 24.50 for a $261 payout was good for fifth place. Team 91 – Barry Ball – took sixth place with a total weight of 24.41 and $217 prize money. Seventh place prize money of $174 was claimed by Team 87 – Bob Vandette – with a 23.90 weight , while Team 94 took the same cash prize for eighth place with a 23.78-pound total. Ninth and 10th place prize money was $87 and claimed by Team 99 – Tim Schrantz – with a 23.67-pound total and Tom Leman’s Team 32 with a total weight of 23.52 pounds.

Today is a brand new day with Big Fish of the day payouts, $100 Calcutta and $30 Big Eye Calcutta. There were almost 30 teams that did not weigh in fish Friday and a number of teams that had total weights under 20 pounds. Day two provides a number of opportunities to cash in, which makes the Con Club Derby so unique. It only takes one heavy walleye to cash in, but three heavy fish is even better. The weigh in is from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. today with refreshments, T-shirts, raffle items and more available to the public.

Look for coverage of this event in the OBSERVER.

Gene Pauszek is an outdoor columnist for the OBSERVER.

Photo o851 (l to R ) Barry Ball and Jim Horbett display 24.41 pounds of walleye including a 10.15 pounder.

Photo 0849 (L to r) Carl Lanski and Dan Chapman had the heaviest total weight of 26 pounds on Friday Missing was team mate Glenn Chapman.

Photo 0840 (l to r) Dennis Gaul and Bill Gunn display 25.90 pounds of walleye including the heaviest walleye caught on Friday. 10.21 pounds. Missing was team mate Bob Slocum.