BAUDETTE, Minn. – Most anglers agreed that the key to winning the 2018 Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship would be locating and enticing overs. While Lake of the Woods is plum full of healthy 25- and 26-inch walleyes, catching an over, a female in excess of 28 inches, can be challenging. After two consistent 17-pound days, Robert Blosser is making the overs look easy. If he boats a third over tomorrow, he’ll likely win the biggest tournament in walleye fishing.
Officially, Blosser has a two-day total of 34.69 pounds and a lead of 3.44 pounds. He described his second day on Lake of the Woods as similar to the first.
“Another day down, one more to go,” said the two-time Angler of the Year. “We had a good morning; it went according to plan. I had two unders in the box when I caught my big fish. I know some people have been getting overs later, but that’s not been the case for me.”
In fact, Blosser had all but one of his weigh fish by 10:30 this morning. He spent most of the afternoon cruising, graphing, and marking.
“My main spot is a big, four-mile area. It’s a mud-bottom basin, and I’m trolling crankbaits with leadcore. I’m using one specific crankbait, and I don’t think many people are pulling this crankbait. I think that’s helping me with the big bite.”Within the one larger area, Blosser has pinpointed four specific spots. The one potential problem is that he’s not alone in this area. Blosser estimated half of the top 10 is fishing the same general area.
“There are a lot of boats around, but we’re not on top of each other. It’s a big area, and it’s open-water fishing.”
While Blosser possesses one of the more impressive resumés in walleye fishing, a championship win is the one accolade that has eluded him.
“Winning the championship would be the holy grail, because it’s the one thing I have left to do. I’ve taken second in just about every championship out there. We’ve got some great sticks left in this one, and anyone is capable of putting up a monster bag. Playing it safe tomorrow is not an option. It’s time to shut the door, put this thing away, and be done with it.”
Like Blosser, second-place pro Nick Schertz has demonstrated remarkable consistency. On day one, the Tomahawk, Wis., pro caught 15.79 pounds, and today he managed 15.46. Schertz and Blosser are fishing the same general area, at least when they’re targeting overs. Today, Schertz never made it to his unders spot, as the 8-mile run didn’t seem worth it in rough, choppy conditions.
“To win, I’ve got to go out there and get a third over tomorrow,” Schertz said matter-of-factly. “I can guarantee that we’re going to go out there and whack them, but there are so many fish that are close, but just under 28 inches.”
“It seems like it’s a better bite in the morning, but guys did catch some big ones later in the day. My take is that I’m going to stay there most of the day to get my over and hope to get some unders along the way. I’m chips in on getting an over.”
Schertz explained that like most, he’s trolling leadcore along transitions within the deeper basin.
“I’m mixing up the crankbaits, but I’ve had a lot of success using new prototypes from Lucky John.”
King closes in on AOY with monster bag
Surging up the leaderboard to third place was Brett King, the winner of the Saginaw Bay event. After putting together a solid limit of unders on day one, King dropped the heaviest limit of the week on the scales today. To go with four near-perfect unders, King coaxed a 30-inch behemoth, which pushed his day-two weight to 19.26 pounds.
While King is now in contention with a total weight of 30.94 pounds, he nearly sealed the deal on Angler of the Year. His lone remaining threat is Tommy Kemos, who finished the event in 12th place. Kemos came into the event with a 4-point lead, but unless King slips significantly tomorrow, the AOY title is his.
King and Blosser are friends and travel partners on tour, but that doesn’t mean King plans to concede the championship to Blosser.
“I’ve learned a lot about my under spot the last couple days. I now think I can afford to spend a couple hours in the morning trying to catch an over. If things don’t pan out, I can go to my under spot and try to sew up Angler of the Year.”
King revealed that for his unders, he’s trolling crankbaits in shallow water. For the overs, he’s pulling leadcore with crankbaits in the deep basin. The distance between the two areas is roughly five or six miles.
“I like the fact that the shallow spot is so consistent. I had a limit there in 20 minutes this morning, but I pretty much upgraded everything during a one-hour window. You chase around little packs, and when you’re on them, it’s a lot of doubles. The deep stuff is more of a lottery of what you get.”
While he started the championship fishing conservatively, King has no plans to end it that way.
“I’m going to go out swinging. It’s been pretty much a dream season. I’d like to win them both (AOY and the championship), but if I don’t, I’d love to win Angler of the Year and have my buddy win the championship. No matter how it ends, I can’t complain about this year.”
Herd fourth, Wilson fifth
Rounding out the top five are pros Drake Herd and Max Wilson. Herd, the Alexandria, Minn., fisherman, caught a two-day total of 29.62 pounds. Wilson, the Lomira, Wis., pro, managed 10 keepers over two days that weighed 27.21 pounds.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros who are fishing the third and final day at the 2018 Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship on Lake of the Woods:
6th: Gary Maher of Menoken, N.D., 26.69
7th: Michael Olson of Thompson, N.D., 26.58
8th: Rick Olson of Mina Lake, S.D., 26.45
9th: Jason Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., 26.17
10th: Kevin McQuoid of Isle, Minn., 25.67
The third and final day of competition begins tomorrow at 7 a.m. Central time as the top 10 takes off from Wheelers Point in Baudette. The final weigh-in will take place at Sportsman’s Lodge, beginning at 3 p.m. The winner is determined by the heaviest cumulative weight.