All-around walleye hammers Brett “Kinger” King and Joe Okada took home 1st (10 for 49.83 lbs) and 2nd (10 for 49.71 lbs) at the Saginaw Bay NWT, bankrolling a combined $78,559 in cash + prizes:
Both were casting #7 Rapala Rippin’ Raps in the “chrome blue” color…just so happens to be the only #7 color sold out on Rapala.com. Coincidence? #IThinkNot
So much for trolling to win….
These guys didn’t just stumble into the right bites — they literally put hundreds of miles on their rigs each day…thanks to an 80+ mile run (one way) from takeoff that required a fuel stop.
Other folks were catching zillions of inner-bay walleyes — much closer to takeoff — but most were in the 12-19″ range. #GoBigOrGoHome #TheyDidn’tGoHome
> Brett King: “Knew if I could go up there and get 5 bites, it would beat anything I had going anywhere else. [Day 1] I literally caught 5…[day 2] I caught 7.
> “I just about got lead astray by the trolling bite. But when I saw the weather forecast, I decided I was going casting. I just always feel more comfortable with a rod in my hand. I’ve pitched so many jigs and blade baits on the river. It’s my Zen — it’s what I love to do. If at all possible, this is how I want to fish in a tournament. You’re not trolling a basin. You’re working a specific target. That’s just where I’m comfortable.
> “With the right conditions, I was willing to take the gamble and make the run. I put over 400 miles on my new boat during the 2 tournament days. It’s a daunting thing to think about those runs. Everything has to go perfect, and this time it did.”
Can’t fake that kind of confidence and commitment. Check Kinger’s #GameFace in this Aaron Eickhorst shot:
> Kinger: “Most of the time my boat would sit in 20-24’…the top of the pile would be in the mid-teens where they were relating to a specific type of rock. These clear-water fish were skittish, so we’d make long casts…let it hit bottom and rip it back up. When you’re limited on time, you’ve got to fish clean.
> “If I got a bite, it was almost a guarantee that it was a walleye over 3 lbs. Occasionally it was a lake trout and [the 2nd day] I caught 2 smallmouths for the first time. Knowing it was a walleye made it really fun. Plus, Saginaw Bay has such a clean bottom — it’s an awesome place to cast.”
Awesome place to cast…once you got there. No way you’d catch me running the Great Lakes without a Smooth Moves suspension seat (like Brett has). Was SO happy to have ’em in Brandon Stanton’s boat for the 100-ish miles we put on day 1.
Shoulda brought my boogie board — swear some of those waves looked like this lol:
> Kinger: “We were supposed to start the year in my backyard on the Mississippi. I didn’t get to fish my backyard, so I fished angry at Winnebago and figured some stuff out. Came out of there with confidence.
> “I hadn’t been to Saginaw since the PWT came here 15 years ago. To come in and put it together, it’s awesome. It’s definitely right there at the top. At the same time, it’s bittersweet. I wanted to win, but it was painful to knock my good friend [Joe Okada] off the podium. As happy as I wanted to be, I still felt bad.
> “That dude is going to win…and he’s going to win a lot. I’ve got my sights set now on winning Angler of the Year, but I’ve got a great young stick right behind me.”
Think we all agree on that one!
Joe’s bag weighed just a few water droplets (0.12 lbs) less than Kinger’s. Safe to say anxiety levels were through the roof at the weigh-in tank Yamaha meeting:
Joe also caught his fish casting a #7 “blue chrome” Rapala Rippin’ Rap with the standard “rip and let it fall” technique.
Said he fished an isolated rock pile 80-ish miles from takeoff on the west side. Only had 3.5 hours of fishing time after the long run.
> Joe Okada: “I only fished 1 spot today…once you’re there, you can’t waste time hopping around. At least I can’t do it that way — I have to fish more thoroughly.
> “The rockpile was almost 100 yards long, but only one small section of it held fish. It was 15′ on top of the pile, but adjacent to deep water. The fish could come and go. They’d stop, hunker down and snack on some gobies.
> “Finishing 2nd isn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting to take a beating and just hopefully scrounge up some points. I was seriously debating running 60 miles in the other direction.
> “I’m fine with 2nd..I really am. Brett was the minister at my wedding a couple months ago. For what I put him through and how nervous he was, this is the least I could do to return the favor.”
How frickin cool is that?! Kinger cleans up well. Awesome finish Joe and BIG congrats on your best catch yet: