Fishing could be great for Mercury National Tournament and Walleye Weekend Festival
Parsons and Kavajecz to be inducted into Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame at event

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (June 4, 2001) ---According to a state fisheries expert, the fishing could be exciting for the 600 anglers competing on Lake Winnebago in the upcoming 26th Annual Mercury National Walleye Tournament this weekend (June 8 - 10).

Held in conjunction with the Fond du Lac Walleye Weekend Family Festival, the highly regarded live-release tournament, the fishermen who participate, and the Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins are a major draw for spectators from across the state.

"It's hard to predict, but based on the recent angler reports, we should expect to see some nice fish coming in at the tournament weigh scales," said Kendall Kamke, senior fisheries biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). "Of the 5,500 fish we tagged this spring, the average length has been 16 3/4 inches for the males and 21 inches for females. I've been hearing that the fishing has been fantastic so far this year."

"Anglers have been catching them on slip bobbers, jigging a leech and trolling," said Kamke. "The fish are out there," he continued, "and if those patterns hold without any extreme weather changes, we could see some pretty good tournament weights being reported."

Kamke has been studying the catches from Lake Winnebago for the past 11 years. "The batches of fish we've looked at over these spring months have been the nicest in size, health and structure in those 11 years," he reported.
"This tournament is a cost-effective way for us to collect important data on the walleye population of the Winnebago system, and helps us to better manage the resources," said Kamke.

Kamke wasn't sure of the size of the biggest walleye ever recorded for the Winnebago system.

"The largest I can recall was about 13 pounds, caught quite a few years ago," said Kamke. "I'm hearing reports of a few walleye out there in the 26-plus-inches range that would tip the scales around 10 pounds."

"That's good news for the 300 teams of anglers who will be competing for the $85,000 purse with the top winning team collecting the $13,000 first place check," said Mercury's Tournaments and Events Manager Rob Riesterer, "and for the anglers catching the biggest walleye each day. They'll win a Mercury 9.9 hp. 4-stroke outboard among the many others prizes from Mercury," Riesterer added.
"Based on Kendall's biological research, his spring studies--and if the weather holds with no radical changes--, this could be one of the best events we've had," said Riesterer.

Riesterer and Kamke also wanted to credit the more than 30 volunteers from the Lighthouse Anglers of Fond du Lac who assist with helping to keep the fish release rate at a high-level. The group stages an "assembly line" of oxygen fed tanks leading to the weigh stand along with their specially equipped release boats.

The WDNR also inspects the Mercury National tournament catches to determine which fish have a high likelihood of survival. Walleye with a low chance of survival upon release are filleted and donated to local non-profit charitable organizations and agencies that provide meals for their residents.

Newest Fishing Hall of Fame inductees and event MCs: Parsons and Kavajecz
Two guys who would love to fish the Mercury National and Lake Winnebago again, but won't, are Keith Kavajecz, Kaukauna, Wis., and Gary Parsons, Glidden, Wis. They will be busy being inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in a ceremony on stage before Sunday's weigh in at 1:30 p.m. They'll also serve as the masters-of-ceremonies'.

Between them, Parsons and Kavajecz have amassed over 40 circuit championship qualifications, 13 major tournament wins and eight "Angler of the Year" titles. The two Mercury Pro Team members have introduced many innovations in tackle and techniques to the world of walleye fishing.

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