Brett Carlson

NWT Full Scoop: Buddie wins trolling tournament

National Walleye Tour photo

By Brett Carlson

Lake Erie local Ryan Buddie was surprised, but not stunned to see casting take 1st and 2nd at the trolling capital of the world.

> “I wouldn’t have bet on it, but I thought it could be done,” Buddie explained. “If there was going to be a time, this was going to be it. The Western Basin is fairly shallow, and you can hit those fish with a bait that doesn’t have to fall super fast. But what really surprised me, is that they were able to do it on day 2 in those winds. To hit a moving target in conditions like that is really impressive to say the least. It’s inspiring what they did.”

Buddie considered fishing the same general area as Hoyer and Nitti, but instead opted to head east to Loraine Harbor, which is where the Black River dumps into the lake.

> “I had thought the prespawn thing was kind of a lottery this time of year, so my mentality was finding the thickest postspawn fish, and those are located to the east. I thought I had a chance to win, especially with what the casters faced on day 2.”

The Delta pilot and part-time charter captain traveled 45 miles to reach his area. On day 1, that was no problem. Getting there on day 2 was manageable as well, but he knew getting back would take time.

> “I told myself I would have to leave at noon. That would give me three hours to get back.”

Buddie’s pattern consisted of flatlining crankbaits on day 1, and running snap weights to get deeper on day 2.

> “My best crankbaits were #12 Berkley Hit Sticks, Deep Bandits and #11 Flicker Minnows. I would run two of my rods with firetiger and two with white-based colors. With sun, the white colors were best.”

He was running 7’6″ medium, moderate-action Fenwick HMGs and old-school Abu Garcia Alphamar LC-16s spooled up with 10-lb Berkley XT.

In addition to bait tweaks, day 2 also required a slight change in location.

> “In general, the bait is attracted to the Black River’s warmer water, and then the walleyes follow suit. It took me a while to find them on day 2. They were in the same general area, but had stacked up where the current from the lake was hitting the break walls. At 10:45, we only had two fish, but we ended up catching a dozen.”

Buddie used a Fish Hawk X2 to monitor his trolling speed.

> “I think one of the huge things was understanding the speed and the current. You can do that by watching your boards, but it’s not precise enough. With the Fish Hawk, you can see the speed that the baits are pulling through the water. My display said I was going between 1.2 and 1.4 mph.”

> “Not only does it tell me the lure speed, but I could also find the key current seems and eddies, which were the ambush points for the walleyes. It was almost like fishing a river over there with all the wind we had funneling water.”

In two days of competition, Buddie weighed 10 walleyes worth 64 pounds, 5 ounces.

> “I’m thrilled with 3rd, and I guess I won the trolling tournament. I never even fished this place in practice because I didn’t want to draw attention to it. I was just going on a hunch. I tried this area back in 2017 and totally tanked. It was definitely a risk, but I also knew the potential.”

National Walleye Tour photo

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