Despite Penalty, Carstensen Wins FLW Walleye Event
Pro Kevin Carstensen of Merrill, Wisconsin, and co-angler Alan Wegleitner of Somerset, Wisconsin, caught five walleyes weighing 12 pounds, 11 ounces to win the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour on Leech Lake presented by Mercury. Carstensen had a three-day catch of 15 walleyes weighing 41-11. He won by 4-pounds over his closest competitor in an event featuring anglers from 17 states and took home $63,000 for his efforts.
Despite having a 2 ½ - pound penalty for bringing in five dead fish Carstensen's two overs carried him to victory. On the final day of competition Carstensen suffered an equipment failure, his livewell died about 1 p.m.
"Oh man, I can't believe this is happening," said Carstensen, who won his first FLW Walleye Tour title. "When my livewell went down this afternoon I thought I was in trouble. My gut just dropped. I knew with the pros so close behind me that someone else would get their two overs and the penalty would just kill me. I am so happy and so fortunate right now.
"I went to the same spot I have been fishing all week and had my two overs by 10 a.m. and I thought life is good," Carstensen went on to say. "Then my livewell went down and I thought all was lost. But we kept grinding away and got three good slot fish to fill our limit and keep the hope alive.
"The area that I was fishing was way north on the lake," Carstensen continued. "It was about a 10 by 10 foot area that just kept replenishing every day. I was fishing shallow, about 4 to 6 feet of water, along a transition line. There was about a 12-foot hole in the middle of it but the fish didn't seem to go there. I tried fishing through it but got nothing. All the action was along the transition line where you could see where the water went from light to dark.
"I was dragging the bottom with crawlers on a rig with a 3/8-ounce weight. The longer the crawler the better," Carstensen added. "I really simplified my fishing this week. During practice I decided I was over-thinking it too much and so I went with what was working and that was dragging a rig on the bottom. Sweet and simple.
"I have struggled on Leech in the past," went on Carstensen. "But I think I have finally figured some things out between last year's championship and this tournament. The lake is definitely growing on me!"
Wegleitner earned the victory in the Co-angler Division and took home $6,000. His three-day weight totaled 39 pounds, 1 ounce. He fished with Tom Keenan, Hatley Wis., Mark Christianson and Carstensen over the course of the tournament.
"When we first got to our spot this morning I thought this guy was nuts," said Wegleitner. "We were fishing thick cat tails, but then we got our first walleye within 10 minutes, I realized he wasn't crazy. We had some problems with our equipment ... but Kevin was great and we fished through it.
"What a great week this has been for me," Wegleitner went on to say. "I got to fish with some great pros and learned a lot. I will be back, that is for sure."
Overall there were 36 walleyes weighing 75 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 10 boats Saturday. The catch included four five-walleye limits.
In Walleye Tour competition, pro and co-anglers are also competing for valuable points in the hope of qualifying for a shot at the 2011 National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship held on the Missouri River in Bismarck, N.D., Sept. 22-25. Anglers are also vying for the coveted Angler of the Year title, which earns them a place in the 2012 Walleye Tour Championship, as well as $10,000 for the pro and $2,500 for the co-angler.
The National Guard FLW Walleye Tour on Green Bay will be the next Walleye Tour tournament and will be held July 21-23 in Oconto, Wis. The event will be hosted by the City of Oconto and boats will launch from Breakwater Park & Marina in Oconto, Wis. For additional information, visit FLWOutdoors.com.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Walleye Tour on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWWalleyeTour and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.