Con Club Derby Day 1 complete
The first day of the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club’s annual three-day walleye derby was warm and windy. Anglers reported no shortage of walleye, but trying to find fish heavier than three pounds was the problem. It is a credit to the phenomenal Lake Erie walleye fishery when you hear reports of anglers hooking up with 30 and more fish in an outing. It’s only during a tournament when you will hear complaints about too many hook-ups.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Con Club event and Chairman Zen Olow and his hard working crew of volunteers had a few “stressers” that they took in stride. In the end, only 16 teams out of 110 did not weigh in any walleye on day one. The first team to weigh-in was Dennis Wolfe, with brother Jim and Jim’s son, Allen. They set the tone for most of the other teams with a six pound plus walleye and two smaller ones. Watching fish being weighed in, it was hard to “guess-timate” whether or not any 10-pounders would come in or what weight would become a contender for the three fish daily total box.
Colin Gawronski was one of the first anglers to break the eight pound mark, with a nice fish weighing 8.51 pounds. His team put together two more fish for a total weight of 20.65 pounds. Towards the end of the day, Henry Smith, who was fishing west, reported in with an 8.60 pounder and a total weight of 20.83 pounds. Captain Don Ruppert had a good day with a big fish weighing in at 8.79 pounds and a three fish total weighing 19.83 pounds. Dennis Pillard of Pillard Lures turned a few heads with his walleye that proved to be the second heaviest walleye of the day weighing 9.20 pounds, which contributed to a three fish total weight of 19.93 pounds.
Shortly afterwards, the heaviest fish of the day was weighed by last year’s winner, Rob Oram, with a weight of 10.59 pounds. Oram has been weighing in big fish in all of the local walleye tournaments, and that fish might prove to be the fish to beat in this three-day event. His team also had the heaviest three fish total weight at 23.15 pounds. This tournament will pay out for the three heaviest walleye daily and the 15 heaviest walleye of the tournament.
In addition, these anglers will be vying for the heaviest three-day total weight prize, which pays out for the top five heaviest three-day total weights. That’s where it gets tricky. There are 26 teams that finished with a three fish total of 16 pounds or more. These are some familiar names including Larry Wilson, Darryl McNeil, Rob Ebersole, Dwayne Bobik, David Byers, Rick Powenski, Mark Mohr of “Big Dawg tournament fame”, Jim Skoczylas, Carlos Troche and David Shareno. Six anglers had totals in the 17 pound range including Tom Breckon, Gregg Marzec the “G-Man”, Thomas Miranda, Darren Buck, Jim Stoll and Robert Rustowicz — who won the Canadian tournament this year. Adam Zwack weighed in an 18.24 pound total, while Ruppert and Pillard weighed in 19 pound plus totals. In the enviable 20 pound total range are Vince Costello and Jim Steel, who runs the Innovative Outdoors tournament at the end of the month.
Day two weather is supposed to be nice, but keeping the smaller fish off your bait and finding quality fish in the 26 inch range and larger will be challenge. Oh yeah, did I mention they will have to do it again on Sunday?
The weigh-in starts at 4 p.m. today at the Con Club, with all contestants having to be in line by 6 p.m. sharp. There are T-shirts and beverages and burgers and dogs on sale, and the public is invited to come and join the fun.
Look for coverage in the OBSERVER.