Following a week of incredibly nasty weather, the team of Bruce and Terry Sparks from Des Moines brought the only five-fish limit to the scales and took home the $1760 first place check at the I.O.W.A. Team Walleye Tournament Trail opener at Storm Lake on Sunday, April 13.
Their five-fish limit weight of 6.56 pounds not only gave them the title, but also the Smooth Moves Seat Mounts Award of two $100 certificates and the Cabela's Family Team award for the highest placing family team.
Second place and a check for $1060 went to the team of Frank Wood from Mason City and Lance Thoe from Ventura with a four-fish weight of 5.12 pounds, while Carl and Dan Griese from Dolliver took home the third place check of $790 with a four-fish weight of 4.84 pounds.
The past two weeks have really been a roller coaster ride for the I.O.W.A. teams with extremely late ice-out, everything moved back a week later and a week of really nasty weather for pre-fishing. We had a lot of spectators at the weigh-in curious as to how the teams would do, because they all knew that the bite really died as the week wore on. We knew it was going to be a tough bite going in, but I am really proud of the way these teams stuck with it and brought a good number of fish to the scales.
The $500 Lund Bonus for the highest placing team fishing out of a Lund boat went to Mike and Doug Rodwell from Oskalooska, who also captured the fourth place $620 check with a three-fish weight of 3.72 pounds. They also won the King's Pointe drawing of two-$400 resort packages.
The ABU Garcia Line Counter Lunker Award of two 5500LC reels went to the team of Mitch Skellenger from Garner and Travis Jorgensen from Britt with a 1.69-pound walleye. The also won the $350 optional Big Fish Pot.
Patience was the key for the top three teams with the Sparks duo anchoring by the small island and pitching chartreuse jigs tipped with Berkley Powerbait in 4-5 feet of water. They had four fish in the livewell by 9 a.m., which helped relieve some of the pressure, and then completed their limit around 2 p.m.
Wood and Thoe worked the north shore, pitching jigs tipped with Berkley Gulp! Alive Black Shad into the shallows.
The Griese team also pitched jigs, but had little success doing so. Instead, their fish all came on a slip bobber and a plain hook tipped with a minnow. They worked an area south of the small island in 4.5-5.5 feet of water.
The I.O.W.A. circuit and the Iowa DNR formed a partnership for the tournament. With the high winds the past few days, it was extremely difficult for the DNR to get their annual seining done. All of the male walleyes caught during the tournament went directly into the DNR tanks to be used for their spawning.
Tournament officials thanked King's Pointe resort for playing host, and sid the dock system and sea wall design were ideal.
The I.O.W.A. teams next compete in the Clear Lake Tournament on April 20.