The days are getting longer and the extreme cold has given way to temperatures that are more pleasing to my brittany spaniels paws. This can only mean that winter is not going to last all year so I need to get my 2011 fishing schedule in order!
Choosing which walleye tour(s) to fish is easy for some. For others, like myself, it is a difficult decision with many variables to be considered. If I had unlimited resources and was without a job I would fish them all. However, since the money tree I planted last year did not produce I have to make the best decision for myself and my sponsors. My biggest liability is I only have 20 days of vacation. To compete at the pro level you need to take an entire week off to pre-fish so that means I will have to keep it to four major tournaments. So which tournament should I fish?
The Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) is a team circuit that has an excellent schedule. I fished the central division 2006-08 and the Illinois River opener the last two years with my buddy Shooter (Scott Pirnstill). We have had some success with an 11th (2008) and 3rd place (2009). This is one that I will always try to have on my schedule as I think we can win! Shooter and I will be fishing this one. Because we know this water pretty good I will only take two vacation days for pre-fishing.
The Forest L Wood (FLW) Walleye Tour has an excellent schedule as well, however, I now only have 18 vacation days left. There are four tournaments, Lake Erie in May, Leech Lake in June, Green Bay in July and Lake Oahe in August. I live close enough to Green Bay that I could skip a couple of days of pre-fishing, saving vacation days, allowing me to fish all four tournaments. The major benefit of fishing all four tournaments is you gain points based on performance. The top 50 pros qualify for the championship which has an excellent purse with no entry fee. I would be out of vacation days so that would not be a benefit to me. Now my focus shifts to which tournaments would I have the best chance at winning. I am considering Lake Erie, Leech Lake and Green Bay.
The Anglers Insight Marketing (AIM) Walleye Tour is the only one that I have not fished. Their format is on the cutting edge with no fish being kept. Instead all fish are measured, recorded, photographed and released back into the water. AIM will be visiting Winneconne (Wolf River) in April, Dubuque (Mississippi River), Brimley, MI (St. Mary's River) and their championship on Lake Oahe in September. I could fish all of the tournaments but with the Brimley event being an invitational I cannot guarantee that I would be able to fish. That would put me out of the angler of the year race which has a nice payout. Instead I am considering fishing the Wolf River and Mississippi River event.
Because I will not be involved in a points race in any of the circuits my decisions will be based on where I have the best chance to win. I will be fishing by myself in most of the FLW/AIM events with the exception of one maybe two events, I will be leaning towards bodies of water that I am familiar with. Teaming with another angler(s) is common practice on these tours as anglers share expenses and information. Sharing of information happens during pre-fishing and after tournament days. It is against the rules to communicate with another angler during tournament hours. I am all for teaming but I will be going solo this year for the most part. I will tackle this subject at a later date.
Deposits are due soon so I need to make my decisions ASAP! I am leaning towards two FLW events, one AIM event, the MWC opener on the Illinois River along with the Lund Mania tournament on Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota. I will post my decision soon so I can start getting ready for open water!