Cooler-than-normal November conditions, including 36-degree water temperatures, did not prevent the walleye and sauger from biting over the weekend during two fishing tournaments on the Illinois River.
On Saturday, 14 teams came in with five-fish limits in the Hennepin Marine Fall Classic at Hennepin, and those teams and others headed back out Sunday for more fishing, with prize money on the line.
“Some dandy sauger crossed the scales today,” the Walleye Trail Facebook page noted on Saturday. “We expect the same for the IWT championship tomorrow. Hopefully the bite continues.”
Seventeen teams weighed in five-fish limits Sunday, in the Illinois Walleye Trail Championship, also at Hennepin. Many of the teams caught far more than five fish, and the average weight per fish ranged in the 2 to 2.5-pound range.
Mark and Brian Mazur from Gurnee won Sunday’s tournament with a 12.25-pound total.
Tony Dowiatt and Dave Kleszyk won the Illinois Walleye Trail series and Team of the Year honors, thanks to a 12.06-pound basket that took second place in Sunday’s competition.
In the Fall Classic on Saturday, a Spring Valley duo, Max Actis and Mike Stuckert, won about $1,500, weighing in five fish for a total of 12.9 pounds. Finishing in a tight competition for second, third and fourth places on Saturday were, respectively, Chris Clemmons and Bob Hausler (11.49 lbs, $904) and Randy Carroll and Tim Schomer (11.31 lbs, $460) and Chase Rockstead, Mark Actis Jr. and Adam Wampler (11.13 lbs).
JJ DeBernardi of Wayne, Ill., caught the biggest fish of the weekend, a 4.43-pound saugeye (sauger-walleye hybrid), but he almost lost it. It dove as partner Nate Teausseau tried to net it, and the net whacked it on the top of the head. DeBernardi said the fish often come off when that happens, but it was hooked well.
Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.