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Dunking a monkey in Lake Erie
Pat Byle puts bad memories of tournaments lost behind after netting FLW Walleye Tour title on Lake Erie

By Vince Meyer - 18.Apr.2009


PORT CLINTON, Ohio – Redemption for Pat Byle totaled 1 pound, 5 ounces.

That was the margin of the Colgate, Wis., pro’s winning weight over second-place Ted Takasaki at the 2009 Walmart FLW Walleye Tour season opener on Lake Erie. Until Byle placed his last fish in the tank on the weigh-in stage, his victory was very much in doubt. Takasaki had wowed the crowd with a 30-pound, 12-ounce sack, the heaviest of the day, and had taken over first place. Byle needed more than 27 pounds to make up the difference, and with a surprisingly tough bite prevailing on day three, he wasn’t sure he had it.

One by one he placed his fish in the tank. When the weight came up at 28 pounds, 6 ounces – bringing his three-day total to 92 pounds, 9 ounces – Byle seemed stunned. His face went blank. Then he leaped forward and shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in one of the more dramatic displays of emotion in the history of FLW walleye tournaments.

Byle has fished the FLW since its start. His previous best finish was a third at the inaugural event on Green Bay in 2000. Between then and now, he had six top-10s, but never a victory.

Saturday the big day finally came.

“I just got a huge monkey off my back,” said Byle, who took over first place from Steve Vandemark after day two. “And it had to come here on Lake Erie. I worked so long and so hard for this. I was due.”

The big lake had treated Byle rudely in the past. In 2003 he led this tournament after two days and then swamped his boat on Gull Island shoal. He began pulling his fish from the livewell, but two swam over the transom, taking victory with them. He weighed 15 pounds that day and finished sixth.

Saturday, Byle started fishing in a pack of boats – it’s the weekend, after all, on the world’s most famous walleye lake – and found he couldn’t maneuver as freely as he trolled. He lost three of the first four fish he hooked, and the one he landed weighed 4 pounds, hardly the stuff with which Eerie tournaments are won.

“I hadn’t lost any fish until then,” Byle said. “And when I saw that 4-pounder I thought, ‘Oh great, and now they’re small, too.’”

He moved five miles and caught another 4-pounder. That was the last fish he caught until 2 p.m. But with an hour to go until weigh-in, the fish started feeding again, and he upgraded four of his five fish, and the biggest one was the last one.

“It was a miracle,” said Byle, whose first-place check totaled $82,667.

Speed was critical to the winning presentation. Byle trolled with pink, purple and white Reef Runners, using bright colors in the morning when the sky was sunny and darker colors in the afternoon when the sky clouded over.

Onstage at the weigh-in, he cradled the first-place trophy in his arm and recounted some of his past: “This one’s for my grandpa, who passed away when I was a teenager. I grew up in the city, and we didn’t have any lakes. Had he not taken me fishing, I don’t know where I’d be today. A lot of my old neighborhood friends are gone. We buried one just a couple years ago.”

Takasaki is second again

No. 2 is getting to be a real downer for veteran walleye pro Ted Takasaki, who doubles as president of Lindy/Little Joe Tackle Company in Brainerd, Minn.

This tournament marks the third second-place finish in his career, the others coming at Lake Sharpe last year and Green Bay in 2006. Last year he finished – you guessed it – second in the tour’s overall points standings.

“I’m starting to wonder what it’s going to take,” he said after Saturday’s weigh-in, where he earned a runner-up check for $16,533. “This was a tough day. I didn’t get a good fish until two hours into the day.”

But then a 9-pounder hit, raising his spirits. With about 15 minutes left, he added a 5-pounder to his five-fish limit. He brought in 30 pounds, 12 ounces and had a three-day total of 91 pounds, 4 ounces.

Takasaki caught all of his fish on Reef Runners in 15 to 20 feet.

“The key,” he said, “was a slower speed, about 1.1 to 1.4 mph. That and making a lot of S-turns. It stalls and stops the baits and speeds them up. When trolling, it’s important to not go straight all the time.”

1 PAT BYLE COLGATE, WI 0 0-00 5 28-03 5 36-00 10 64-03 5 28-06 15 92-09 $41,333 $41,334
2 TED TAKASAKI EAST GULL LAKE, MN 0 0-00 5 28-02 5 32-06 10 60-08 5 30-12 15 91-04 $16,533
3 RICK FRANKLIN BEMIDJI, MN 0 0-00 5 29-13 5 30-13 10 60-10 5 28-02 15 88-12 $9,920 $7,026
4 STEVE VANDEMARK LINWOOD, MI 0 0-00 5 36-06 4 18-04 9 54-10 5 29-11 14 84-05 $8,267 $4,960
5 SCOTT SCHIEFELBEIN BIRCHWOOD, WI 0 0-00 5 26-15 5 31-14 10 58-13 5 23-02 15 81-15 $6,613 $4,134
6 PERRY GOOD BRAINERD, MN 0 0-00 5 26-12 5 30-14 10 57-10 3 20-13 13 78-07 $5,787
7 JOHN GILLMAN FREELAND, MI 0 0-00 5 21-12 5 33-00 10 54-12 5 22-14 15 77-10 $5,373 $2,894
8 DAVID KRAFT BISMARCK, ND 0 0-00 4 25-12 5 25-12 9 51-08 4 22-13 13 74-05 $4,960 $2,480
9 ROSS GROTHE NORTHFIELD, MN 0 0-00 4 22-06 5 29-10 9 52-00 4 17-03 13 69-03 $4,547 $2,066
10 RICK MCLAUGHLIN GLENROCK, WY 0 0-00 4 21-11 5 35-00 9 56-11 0 0-00 9 56-11 $4,133 $827
11 TROY WALWOOD GRAND HAVEN, MI 0 0-00 5 22-08 5 28-11 10 51-03 $3,307 $496
12 RON SEELHOFF BURLINGTON, CO 0 0-00 4 21-01 5 29-15 9 51-00 $3,307
13 ROBERT KRESSE CAPE HAZE, FL 0 0-00 4 24-13 5 25-08 9 50-05 $3,307
14 TOM KEMOS OCONOMOWOC, WI 0 0-00 3 19-07 5 29-05 8 48-12 $3,307
15 RONNIE RHODES LORAIN, OH 0 0-00 4 26-02 3 21-02 7 47-04 $3,307
16 JOHN SWANSTROM SUPERIOR, WI 0 0-00 2 11-02 5 35-04 7 46-06 $2,893 $826
17 SCOTT STEIL RICHMOND, MN 0 0-00 3 15-06 5 30-09 8 45-15 $2,893 $826
18 JARED MEISTERICS RICHFIELD, OH 0 0-00 1 3-10 5 41-04 6 44-14 $2,893
19 SCOTT WOODWARD GLENDIVE, MT 0 0-00 4 29-13 2 14-14 6 44-11 $2,893 $826
20 ERIC PALMQUIST OSHKOSH, WI 0 0-00 5 15-06 5 28-13 10 44-03 $2,893 $413


http://walleyetour.flwoutdoors.com/tournament.cfm?cid=5&did=29&t=news&tday=4&atype=6&tid=6331&tyear=2009&aid=149728
 
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