Johnnie Candle and Dave Noble pulled three limit catches from Pools 9 and 10 of the Mississippi River Oct. 14-16 to capture top honors and a $25,000 first-place check at the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit's 2010 World Walleye Championship.
Consistency was key during the three-day tournament, which saw numerous lead changes as the elite field of 27 teams-who qualified for the no-entry-fee event during the circuit's 2009 season-battled for more than $100,000 amidst ever-changing water conditions. Candle and Noble brought an MWC five-fish limit to the scale each day. At 12.10 pounds, their final basket anchored the win by more than seven pounds over their closest competitors, New Yorkers Nate Capton, Jr., of Niagara Falls, and Dave Waldeck of Sanborn.
"It's a pretty incredible feeling," said Candle, of Devils Lake, North Dakota. Besides the emotion of being crowned an MWC World Walleye Champion, Candle explained to the weigh-in crowd that his grandfather was clinging to life in a nursing home. "The fact that the guy who taught me everything I know about fishing is hanging on just to see this happen makes it even more special," he tearfully told the weigh-in crowd.
With the river at flood stage during prefishing, Candle and Noble initially looked for areas with reduced current. "We didn't catch anything," Candle admitted. "Not a junk fish, not a walleye or sauger-nothing at all." So the team shifted gears, looking for current seams in the fastest water available. They struck gold at a rock jetty protecting the Wyalusing Boat Launch.
The pair pitched crankbaits, including size 5 Berkley Flicker Shads, and soon found that depth control was critical. "We each kept two rods, rigged with different diameter line (14/6 and 6/2 Berkley FireLine) to control running depth," said Noble, of Dixon, Illinois. "If the baits banged bottom too much-or didn't tap it at all-we didn't get bit."
Candle and Noble also received a $200 sponsor bonus from the Oxygenator for using U2 in their livewell. In all, the field shared a $101,500 cash purse, plus another $3,350 in sponsor contingencies-including Cabela's Angler Cash, Ranger Cup, Lowrance HDS, and U2 the Oxygenator. Lowrance also sponsored a Comeback Award, presenting Scott Aydelotte, of Garner, Iowa, and Tim Harms, of Owatonna, Minnesota, a pair of new Ice Machine winter fishing systems for advancing the most places from Day One to Day Three. The MWC also offered $1,050 in Cabela's gift cards for big-fish awards.
The tournament featured waterfront weigh-ins before standing room only crowds at the Winneshiek Marina, and was co-hosted by the Prairie du Chien Cabela's store and Falling Rock Walleye Club. Following each day's weigh-in, teams trailered to the store to visit with fans in the Fishing Department, and hold a free drawing for $50 Cabela's gift cards-courtesy of Cabela's.
On Friday, the MWC, Cabela's and National Professional Anglers Association held a free Youth and Family Fishing Clinic at the MWC tent outside the Cabela's store. The first 60 kids received a new Shakespeare rod-and-reel combo, plus a tackle kit courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle, and participated in a free drawing for a $200 Cabela's rod and reel. In addition, MWC anglers showed the youngsters how to tie a slip bobber rig, and helped get their new rods ready for fishing.
The Championship returned to Prairie du Chien for the first season since 2006-where it ran for five consecutive seasons starting in 2002-and will return in 2011. The event was filmed for airing later this year on Versus Television Network. At press time air dates had not been set; check versus.com for Showtime's.