When Americans think of greenbacks the almighty dollar probably comes first to mind. For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the word Greenback is HUGE Canadian walleye. Lake Winnipeg and the Winnipeg River in Manitoba are home to a special strain of large walleye called the Greenbacks. These fantastic fish have developed this name for the iridescent green stripe that shimmers along their back. Each fall anglers from all over the U.S. and Canada gather for the Kevin Fryklund Memorial Walleye Championship. Here, these fisherman are put to the test as they see who can master these monster "eyes" of the north.
Fifty-five teams entered this year’s two-day tournament in Pine Falls, Manitoba. This year’s competition included a competitive field of the top local walleye anglers along with veteran sticks out of Ontario, and a talented U.S. contingent.
To start out the competition, the greenback walleye run was at its peak as many teams were on big fish during pre-fishing excursions. It came as no surprise then when numerous MONSTER walleye were brought in at the day-one weigh-in. So Monstrous, In fact, that the top ten teams were able to bring in bag weights over 20 lbs. Baudette, Minnesota anglers Kent Christianson and Cory Ney took command of the standings at the end of the first day with a massive 26.89 lb bag anchored with not only one, but two 10 lb master angler walleye. The larger of the two massive ‘greens’ also captured big fish of the day! Coming in at a very close second for heaviest fish was a 29", 10 lb monster caught by the Winnipeg/Sainte Agathe team consisting of Garther Cheung and Bryan Maloney who sat in fourth with 22.51 lbs.
Dave Randash and Ed Pickutowski from Minnesota, and Chris Oakes and Robert Melanson representing Balmertown, Ontario were within striking distance of the over three and a half pound leader margin going into day two. The steady south-east wind from day one quickly changed to a blistering west wind by mid-morning of the second day. The giant rollers that anglers have come to expect on Traverse Bay had many boats rocking on the water. The fish apparently were also getting tossed around by the waves as many teams could be seen scrambling around to get onto a school. Adjustments to boat location pushed anglers further out into the lake, or further into the river. These last minute adjustments paid off for some, and left others searching for a big bite right up to the end.
The strategy of hunkering down on proven walleye grounds was key for the Red Lake, Ontario/Winnipeg team, Bill Spence and Brian Benes. These two brought in over 22 lbs each day to capture third place for the competition. Chris Blayden of Winnipeg and his partner Tom McNair from Ontario climbed three spots to finish in 4th place after bringing in another solid 20 lb bag. Mark Chapman and Leslie Morrison out of Baudette, MN rose from 10th place after day one, to rounding out the top 5 weighing in a hefty 19.16 lbs on day two.
3rd Place - Spence/Benes
4th Place - Blayden/McNair
5th Place - Chapman/Morrison
Randash and Pickutowski brought in a second consecutive 23 lb bag anchored by a 9.48 lb walleye that was good for big fish of day two. These guys sat atop the standings throughout the earlier flight weigh-in and well into the second wave of boats. As the teams came in, none could come close to knocking them out of the hot seat. The title was seemingly only in doubt as team #48 and day one leaders K. Christianson and C. Ney came to the scale. Anything approaching 20 lbs would seal the win for them but their limit of walleyes came in at only 18.55 lbs which put them in second place.
2nd Place – Christianson/Ney
That night, the 2014 Champions and the members of the well-represented Fargo-Moorhead Walleyes Unlimited club were still taking it all in at the awards presentation at the Papertown Inn, “It will all probably sink in tomorrow. We had an amazing two days of fishing,” beamed Pickutowski. Randash spoke to the crowd up on stage, “Thank you to all our Canadian friends for sharing this wonderful resource”. As the tournament organizer I had the pleasure of also awarding the Canada/USA team competition title to the American side, who have been dominating this event the last few years. The challenge is on for the home team in 2015!
If you are interested in learning more about chasing a monster Manitoba greenback walleye give me a call!
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Today Craig is known as one of the top Muskie anglers in Canada - Loudly and boisterously commanding and navigating throughout the Manitoba and Ontario lakes. He hosts seminars across Canada and throughout the USA on Muskie fishing. He has hosted several TV shows both in open and hard water and is featured as one of Lund Boats “Pro Staff”. Tournament founder, philanthropist, outdoors writer and outdoor expert, Craig simply can’t get enough of the great outdoors. Craig was selected to fish for Team Canada, one of 30 pro anglers from across the country to compete in a Canada vs. USA challenge. Find out more at www.staponoutdoors.com
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