STORM LAKE - Mike Heller of West Des Moines and Jessie Roush of Clive narrowly edged the team of Bob Henderson from Worthington, Minn. and Dan Iblings from Minneapolis, Minn. to take home the $1,940 first place check at the I.O.W.A. Team Walleye Tournament opener at the King's Pointe Resort qualifier at Storm Lake on Sunday, April 19.
Their five-fish limit weight of 7.89 pounds was only .27 of a pound more than Henderson and Iblings' five-fish limit weight of 7.62 pounds. Henderson and Iblings cashed an $1,160 check for their second place finish.
Heller and Roush also captured the Smooth Moves Seat Mounts Award of two $100 certificates, two certificates for two-night's lodging at King's Pointe Resort, a $100 Visa Card from the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce and the $500 Lund Bonus for the highest placing team fishing out of a Lund boat.
Third place and a check for $870 went to the team of Scott Sundet from Urbandale and Cory Batterson from Pleasant Hill with a five-fish limit weight of 7.24 pounds.
"Talk about tight," said I.O.W.A. Tournament Director Dean Higgins. "The top five teams were separated by less than a pound. All of the fish weighed came in under the slot size, so that really made the weights close."
The battle for the big fish of the tournament was even closer with Terry Green from Mason City and Steve Templeton from Clear Lake bringing in a 1.68 pounder to just edge the team of Gerry Buffington and Larry Meinders from Mason City with their 1.67 pound walleye. Green and Templeton won the $370 optional Big Fish Pot.
Several other special awards were also awarded at the tournament. The Cabela's Family Team award for the highest placing family team turned out to be a tie between the team of Brandon Carpenter from Rockwell and Paul Carpenter from Carroll and the team of Joe and Kathy Kirk from Urbandale. They both brought in five-fish limit weights of 6.75 pounds.
The $500 Wright County Motors Contingency Award went to the team of Kirk Moe from Algona and Steve Meints from Burt with a two-fish weight of 2.72 pounds, while the optional Big Bucks Pot of $500 was split three ways between Sundet and Batterson, Kirks and the team of Bruce and Terry Sparks from Des Moines.
The top three teams all had a little different twist to their day. For Heller and Roush, it was all about long-lining No. 5 white Shad Raps 160 feet behind the boat. They worked the west end of the lake in 9-10 feet of water, and caught and released several more fish during the day. "Both of these guys have been a part of tournament walleye fishing in Iowa for a long time. Jesse, who is 75 years 'young,' is simply an amazing competitor. It seems that every year that Jesse fishes the circuit, he and his partner are at or near the top."
The second place team pulled off an incredible feat. Neither their main motor nor their kicker would start, so it all came down to their electric trolling motor. Luckily, they were able to troll around the corner from the marina and anchor out of the wind. Using a slip bobber and a minnow, they caught their fish in two feet of water.
Sundet and Batterson pulled Firetiger colored jointed Shad Raps in 8-10 feet of water, letting out 69 feet of Berkley's Fireline Tracer Braid Line while trolling at 1.9 mph in the morning and speeding up to 2.5 mph in the afternoon.
Higgins continued, "We had 13 teams weigh in five-fish limits. That's a testament to these teams. Pre-fishing was tough, but the top teams found a way to scratch out a limit."
Higgins also thanked all of those that helped make the tournament go so smoothly. "I want to thank King's Pointe for being our tournament sponsor. Also, a big thank you goes to all of the volunteers that turned out today to help at the weigh-in. The city of Storm Lake was just great to work with, and even with the weather, we had a good crowd today."
With one tournament now over, the I.O.W.A. teams begin making plans for the second qualifier, the FCIS "Anglers Choice" Insurance Clear Lake Tournament on Sunday, May 3.
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 Clarion.