DAVENPORT, Iowa – The National Guard FLW Walleye Championship will visit the Mississippi River and the Quad Cities area Oct. 25-28 to crown walleye fishing’s top angler of 2012. Hosted by the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 42 of the world’s top walleye pros and co-anglers fishing for the sport’s biggest award – $100,000 cash in the Pro division and $15,000 cash in the Co-Angler division.
“This is the most excited I have been for a tournament in quite a while,” said Dr. Pepper TEN pro John Balla of Bartlett, Ill. “I consider this event as being on my home waters. I’ve fished these river pools extensively over the last 10 years, and it’s a fantastic place for a tournament. So many different decisions are going to have to be made.
“The first challenge that guys are going to have to address is the slot limit,” said Balla, who has seven Top-10 finishes in FLW competition. “We’re allowed one walleye over 27 inches per angler, and four from 15 to 20 inches. That can make it tough to scratch out a limit. Some guys are going to be targeting the saugers and saugeyes, as there is no slot limit for them. That means if a guy changes his strategy and gets on a nice school, he could win with those.
“The low water levels also present a big challenge for us,” Balla continued. “The river is a foot and a half low right now, and that makes it tough to find a good current. That definitely slows the bite down.
“However, the biggest decision that anglers are going to have to make is using the river lock system,” Balla said. “We’re launching out of Pool 16. There are plenty of fish there, but Pool 14 has the biggest population of fish and the most over 27 inches. With the lock system, though, it’s a long run and it’ll take quite a bit of time to get there. We’re going to have make the decision of do I grind it out in the closer pools and get more fishing time? Or do I make the long run and lose a few hours of precious time and gamble that we can catch a quick limit in Pool 14? Decisions are going to be the key to winning this tournament.”
Balla said that anglers are going to be able to fish to their strengths because of the low water levels, and every river presentation would be in play.
“Some guys will be trolling, others will be hand lining,” he said. “On the river, the leaves and debris can really play a factor as well. When the duck grass starts to get pulled off its roots and the leaves start to just pile up, the river gets dirty and it can take the trolling bite out of the equation. If there is a ton of debris in the river, everyone will be jigging and rigging.
“The first two days are really key in this tournament,” Balla went on to say. “The weights are going to be very close, and you’re not going to be able to make a giant jump to the top of the leaderboard. You’re going to have to be consistent, and it’s really important to make that top 10 after the first two days.”
Balla predicted that it would take 8½ to 9 pounds a day to make the final day 3 cut, and that the winner would have 34 to 36 pounds.
“It was a personal goal of mine to qualify for this tournament this year,” Balla said. “There are a ton of decisions that anglers will have to make, and it’ll make for an extremely interesting and competitive tournament.”
Anglers will take off from the Centennial Park Launch located at 315 S. Marquette St. in Davenport, Iowa at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the River Center located at 136 E. 3rd St. in Davenport beginning at 4 p.m. daily.
In celebration of the festivities, Davenport, Iowa, mayor Bill Gluba and the Davenport City Council proclaimed the week of October 22-28 as FLW National Guard Walleye Championship Week.
The NPAA will be offering a free Youth and Family Fishing Clinic on Friday after the weigh-in beginning at 7 p.m. Prizes, including rods & reels, will be given away after the clinic. Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo at the River Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday the first 300 children 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau/Quad Cities Sports Commission. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a $500 Walmart gift card. The gift card giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
FLW Walleye Tour pro anglers will be on hand to sign autographs, take pictures and talk fishing to fans of all ages all week prior to the tournament. The Walmart located at 5811 Elmore Ave. in Davenport will host Walmart Pro Night Saturday Oct. 20, from 5-7 p.m. Lujack Chevrolet, located at 3700 N. Harrison St. in Davenport, will host Chevy Pro Night Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 6-8 p.m. Scheduled to appear at both locations are Chevy pro Jason Przekurat, National Guard pro’s Mark Courts and Bill Shimota, Walmart pro Dean Arnoldussen, Dr. Pepper TEN pro John Balla, Straight Talk pro Tom Keenan and the 2011 FLW Walleye Tour Champion and EverStart pro Dan Stier.
Coverage of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 2 from 1-2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Chip Leer and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing unparalleled fishing resources and entertainment to our sponsors, fans and host communities. FLW is offering anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2012 over the course of 191 tournaments across five tournament circuits, each providing an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the “Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water,” through a variety of platforms including tournaments, outdoor expos and the world’s richest fantasy sports game – FLW Fantasy Fishing. For more information about FLW and FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FLWOutdoors.com or FantasyFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter and Facebook.