Heinrich, Backstrand Win Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit Big Stone Lake Qualifier
Masters Walleye Circuit
"This was a blast!" said Heinrich, of Rogers, moments after claiming victory in the team-format event in front of a cheering crowd gathered at Riverside Park in Ortonville. "It hasn’t even started to sink in yet," added Backstrand, of Ortonville, noting that this was the team’s first-ever MWC tournament. "We’ve fished together a few years and finally decided to give it a try. Things really worked out great!"
The winners rocketed out of the gate on day one with a five-fish, 20-pound basket that would ultimately be the biggest bag to cross the Cabela’s MWC stage during the event.
"It was tougher on day two," Backstrand reported, speculating that calmer conditions may have slowed the bite. "We didn’t have a fish in the livewell at 11:30 and were getting a little nervous," added Heinrich. Just when they were about to abandon their golden pattern, Big Stone’s walleyes came to life and rewarded their patience with five fish for 14 pounds, 3 ounces, giving them a 34-pound, 3-ounce two-day total.
"We trolled spinner rigs with leeches 1.2 to 1.3 mph in 12 feet of water along a transition between rock, gravel and sand about a mile north of Ortonville," said Heinrich, admitting that multiple trips to his local Cabela’s retail store in Rogers helped him stock up for the winning performance. Other keys to the presentation were 10-pound Berkley XT monofilament mainline, size 2 Colorado spinner blades and bottom bouncers for ballast.
Heinrich and Backstrand collected the $7,700 first-place cash payout, plus the $500 Berkley Baits contingency and $525 from the big-fish pot for catching the largest walleye on day one. They also claimed a $1,000 Cabela’s National Team Championship Prize Package including paid NTC entry, travel stipend, team jerseys and plaques.
In second place, fellow Minnesotans Artie Arndt, of Ortonville, and Mike Frisch, of Elbow Lake, weighed in 10 fish for 31 pounds, 10 ounces, worth $4,100 in cash.
Rounding out the top 10 were: 3rd: James Hartman and Dan Sunne, 30-07, $2,700 4th: Gregory Jones and Scott Zupfer, 29-02, $2,100 5th: Kelly Stattelman and Monty Athey, 29-01, $1,700 6th: Brent Hasslen and Ritchie Seidell, 28-05, $1,400 7th: Mike Olson and Pete Geroy, 28-03, $1,200 plus $1,000 Ranger Cup and $500 Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch and Elite 7 contingency 8th: Isaac and Todd Pauly, 27-02, $1,200 plus $250 Zippo Hot Hands Big Fish Award for catching big fish of the tournament, a 9-pound, 1-ounce walleye 9th: Todd Laughton and Terry Zimmer, 26-09, $1,000 10th: Rick and Dillon Robinson, 25-13, $1,000
In other contingency winnings, 19th-place finishers Troy Morris and Corey Heiser collected the $200 Optima True Blue Bonus.In all, the Cabela’s MWC awarded $30,770 in cash and prizes.
Big Stone Lake yielded 303 walleyes weighing a total of 823 pounds, 1 ounce and 36 five-fish Cabela’s MWC limits were recorded in the catch-and-release event. The Cabela’s MWC, National Professional Anglers Association, Pure Fishing and Zippo Outdoor Brands presented a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after the first day’s weigh-in. Participating youths received rod-and-reel combos courtesy of the NPAA.
Under the umbrella of The Walleye Federation (TWF), the Cabela’s MWC is open to avid walleye anglers from all walks of life. The 2014 trail includes 10 stops spread across seven states in the Walleye Belt. Teams showcase their skills—and sponsor products—at world-class venues such as the Illinois, Detroit and Mississippi rivers, Green Bay, Big Stone Lake, Kinzua Reservoir, Cass Lake and Lake Erie.
Along with great payouts at each event, teams fishing three or more tournaments battle for coveted berths in the 2015 Cabela’s MWC Championship, set for October 2015 on Lake Erie out of Huron, Ohio. Teams fishing at least three qualifiers also compete for Team of the Year awards, including a $25,000 "Living the Dream" sponsorship package, which includes fully paid entries to the Cabela’s National Walleye Trail as a pro and co-angler, use of a 600 series Ranger boat, travel stipends and more.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is in its 12th season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Lowe Equipment Attachments, Lowrance Electronics, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, Ranger Boats, The Walleye Federation and Zippo Outdoor Brands. Associate sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Church Tackle, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Optima Batteries, Rockstar Hitch Mounted Mud Flaps, T-H Marine and Sea Grant.
Entry fees are $650 per tournament, of which more than 100 percent is returned to anglers at the qualifiers, World Championship and Team of the Year races. Registration closes at 10 a.m. on Monday prior to each tournament. For more information, visit masterswalleyecircuit.com, email email@example.com, or call (580) 765-9031.