Tough time finding ‘slot’ fish

The third-annual Kenora Walleye Open took place over the long weekend on Lake of the Woods and a record 135 teams showed up to fish it.
The weather was pretty good and the fish were biting, so it was a fun event for everybody who participated.
JP Kennedy has a long history of organizing this event previously in Minaki before he moved it to Kenora a few years ago because regulations on Lake of the Woods made it a little easier to operate.
It turned out to be a great move because while the fishing is excellent on the Winnipeg River (it really is), Lake of the Woods just offers anglers so many options for how to catch walleyes.
For this tournament, teams can bring in four fish each day. One can be greater than 23 inches while the other three need to be under 18 inches. This creates some strategy because to do well, teams definitely need to catch a large “over” fish, then catch good “slots” that are approaching 18 inches.
At the end of the two-day event, Anthony Paoni of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Dean McCammon of Sioux Narrows took home the $32,000 first-place prize, thanks in big part to the 10.45-pound walleye they caught on Day 2 of the tournament.
Their total of 27.13 pounds narrowly edged out the Winnipeg duo of Mike Davey and Josh Haisell by .03–that is 3/100ths of a pound! A drop of water!
Davey and Haisell set a new tournament record when they brought in an 11.90-pound walleye on Day 2 that helped them earn the second place. That single fish was larger than 90 percent of the catches brought in during the tournament!
Taking third place was the Kenora team of Scott Dingwall and Jay Samsal. They are both great friends of mine and they always are a threat to win any of the bass or walleye tournaments across the region.
They were the most consistent team during the tournament and they missed winning by less than half-a-pound.
Bryan Gustafson and I teamed up for this event–our first time fishing together in a tournament and we ended up finishing in 24th place. It paid to use a Lund boat, though, because we won $500 for the top finishing team in a Lund boat that finished outside of the money.
The top 20 teams won money in this tournament.
The fishing was great for us this weekend but we failed big time on our “slot” fish. Our big one each day was over six pounds, which was pretty good but the first day we had three 16-inch slot fish, then had three not much bigger then second day.
We lost a couple of pounds there by not having 17-inch fish to bring in with our big ones.
We caught most of our fish on jigs, fishing on specific corners or edges of humps and points where we have caught fish in the past.
These spots are marked with GPS waypoints so in the tournament, we were able to just drive right up on top of the best parts of these humps where the fish usually are and start catching them. For the most part, all but a couple of the places we stopped on had plenty of fish on them.
We tipped our jigs with leeches, chunks of worms, and soft plastic minnows.
The bass tournament scene gets started across the region this weekend, with tournaments taking place at Lake Despair and Shoal Lake.
The “Castin’ For Cash” tournament hosted by Lake Despair Lodge takes place Friday and Saturday while Shoal Lake goes Saturday and Sunday. There still are a few spots open for Lake Despair while teams can sign up at Shoal Lake on Saturday morning if they have not already done so.
Happy fishing!

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