‘Big Fish Friday’ event held in Dunkirk, walleye tourney today

Sportsman’s Journal

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek The top three winners of the Big Fish Friday event are shown, from left: Dan Hanley, Rob Orm, Justin Wekenmann, Greg Stoos, Roger Voorhees, Ken Jones, and Captain Dankearney.

Friday was the Big Fish Friday event of the 2019 Big Dawg Walleye Tournament. Formerly known as the Razor’s Big Dawg Tournament, tournament director Mark Mohr is now going solo. Sign-ups for the main event today looked brisk, as I departed to make the OBSERVER deadline.

Big Fish Friday is what the name implies. Anglers who are registered to fish in Saturday’s main event pay an optional $100 per boat to fish for the biggest walleye on Friday. The event pays out for the top three heaviest walleye caught on Friday. For the deadline, anglers had to be standing in line by 4 p.m. at Rookies, located on Lakeshore Drive, just east of the City of Dunkirk Pier.

There were over a dozen coolers lines up and the tournament staff wasted no time in getting started. Captain K Dawg Dankearney stepped up to the scale with a hawg weighing 9.54 pounds. That lead was short lived when last years Con Club winner Rob Orm pulled out an impressive fish weighing 10.56 pounds. A few other fish were weighed by familiar faces, including a fish weighed by Team REEL Mania, captained by Mark Lewandowski. His fish was just .5 ounces away from the second place fish. Then came Roger Voorhees of Team Dragon lures. Voorhees is to local tournament fishing what Doyle Brunson is to Texas Hold ’em poker playing. The fish pulled down the scales to 11.10 pounds. Team Dragon Lures, made up of Voorhees, Ken Jones, Dan Hanley and Greg Stoos, reported catching that monster on a Perfect 10 lure made by Rapala, presented on leadcore line off the planner boards in shallow water. Note that all information given by fishermen in an ongoing tournament may not be overly detailed. Voorhees often is the exception. Orm reported using a lure made by Dennis Pillard, and Lewandowski reported using a flicker shad made by Berkley.

After the weigh-in, the crew prepared for Saturday’s event. It is mandatory for a representative to be at the Captains meeting, which is at Rookies and starts at 6 p.m. sharp. Failure to do so results in a two-hour delay in start up today.

The Big Dawg event will start at 6 a.m. sharp with a shot gun (air horn) signal from the Dunkirk Harbor. Anyone leaving early will be disqualified. Teams are composed of two up to five anglers on board, but each team of three or more is limited to having no more than nine rods in the water at one time. All of the teams are required to be checked starting at 5 a.m. prior to the 6 a.m. start. Each team is issued a puck with their boat team number. Each boat must also display their team number on two identification cards that are provided. Each team is also provided a plastic zip tie which must be placed in the jaw of their largest fish that they want to be weighed for big fish consideration.

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek Mark Lewandowski, Jonathan Lewandowski, Mark Lewandowski Jr. and Rick Deubel were .5 of an ounce from finishing in third place in Friday’s event.

All coolers of fish for Saturday’s event must be in line at the pick-up station by 4 p.m. sharp or face disqualification. All fish to be weighed in must be a minimum of 26 inches in length. That could be tough. There are a lot of fish lately that fall just short of that mark. All coolers, which must contain the identification puck, will be transferred to the weigh-in at Rookies. Coolers can contain no more than six walleye. In addition anglers must use block, contained or bagged ice. No ice water baths. All standard state fishing laws will also apply. The anglers will also conduct themselves in a professional manner while on stage, during the weigh-in. The weigh-in will be around 5 p.m. and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. How many pay-out places will be announced today. You can join the action at Rookies and see some impressive fish. The results will be posted in the OBSERVER on Sunday in the Sportsman’s Journal.