North Dakotan captures National Walleye Tour event
GARRISON – Local anglers more than held their own against a field of well-known professionals at the recent National Walleye Tour stop at Fort Stevenson State Park on Lake Sakakawea.
Claiming the top spot in the two-day event held Sept. 10-11 was Cody Northrop of South Heart. Northrup’s second day catch of five walleyes weighing in at 28.20 pounds gave him a winning total of 50.91 pounds. Runner-up was Jaran Cox of Manhattan, Kan., with 46.22 pounds.
Northrup’s victory over the 120 boat field earned him a new Ranger boat, motor and trailer and $15,000 for winnings of $82,598.
Even though it is not unusual for local anglers to do well in pro tour events, having a sort of “home field” advantage over visiting anglers generally unfamiliar with the water, North Dakota fishermen excelled. The first day lead was held by Minoter Gary Hodge with a catch of 23.80 pounds. After day one Josh Johnson of South Heart was fifth and Jason Votava of Minot sixth.
“The local anglers did really good. They got fish and they’ll get paid for it,” said Anthony Wright, Arkansas, tournament director.
Wright said the professional field had no problem making long runs of up to 60 miles from the starting point in Garrison Bay to their favorite fishing spot. Some of the anglers were followed by camera crews recording the action for television.
“This championship will have two TV shows,” explained Wright. “They will air in late winter or early spring and on the NWT website. Everything up here has been awesome, real good, good people. Our anglers like to come here because they catch fish.”
The second day of fishing found considerable shake-up in the standings as Hodge, Johnson and Votava failed to upgrade their first day catch. Gary Maher of Menoken had a big second day to climb from 13th to 6th place, giving North Dakota two anglers in the top ten.
The National Walleye Tour is sponsored by Bass Pro Shop and Cabelas. This year’s NWT tour was abbreviated due to coronavirus. Events were held on Green Bay at Oconto, Wisconsin, the St. Mary’s River out of Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and at Lake Sakakawea. The championship is set for Oct. 14-16 out of Huron, Ohio on Lake Erie.
“For a lot of these guys, all they do is fish. We live in a great country when you can make a living fishing,” said Wright.