The last weekend in June saw 98 boats with the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour take off on Lake Oahe for a two-day tournament. Rhinelander resident and Cabela’s Pro Ryan Jirik was among the fleet. He stated he hadn’t fished the Mobridge area since he was a kid, but found the fishing to be fairly similar to what he remembered, if just a bit shallower.
Jirik had a full six days of practice and fished about 80 miles or river in an attempt to find the fish over 20”. Anglers would be allowed to weigh two fish per day over the 20” mark, but those fish proved fairly elusive. Jirik stated he did not boat a fish of that length all week of practice. He found the fish in the 12” – 15” size range were plentiful, but the larger fish were very scarce. To his surprise, even after six days of practice, a definite pattern had not yet emerged.
As Day 1 of the tournament dawned, Jirik has knots in his stomach wondering if he was doing the right things and fishing the right places. While he was fairly sure he could catch seven to seven and a half pounds of fish per day, he had no idea where that would land him in the standings. He could never be sure if and when a kicker fish would show up on one of his spots.
The weather throughout practice was fairly stable, although several widespread storms did travel through the area. The water temperature hovered around the 70 degree mark. Late Saturday morning a good wind did kick up and stayed until about weigh in time.
On Day 1, Jirik decided on the tactic that gave him the best result at the end of practice, and that was finesse presentations. He rigged live bait on a series of breaklines on Day 1. Because this was a no-cull tournament, he spent the majority of the day filtering through a number of smaller fish trying to decide what to keep and what to throw back immediately. In this format, anglers were only allowed to box eight fish and weigh five per day. Late in the day he was forced to keep two smaller fish, leading to a smaller weight than that which he had hoped as the tournament started.
Jirik brought 5.85 pounds to the scales for the Day 1 weigh in. This put the Cabela's Pro in 80th place as the sun set on Day 1 of fishing. With the being the case, he started Day 2 with a bit of a change. Believing he had a spot that was wind-driven, he started on a that spot with a totally different technique. While the wind was in the right direction, Jirik quickly realized it was probably not strong enough. He returned to his Day 1 spot and bulked up his presentation in the hopes of luring larger bites.
Day 2 weigh in saw Jirik bring in 5 more fish for 8.15. He mentioned to one of the camera men covering the tournament that he thought someone would catch 10-12 pounds per day, but that he had no idea how many of the guys were on fish that would take them through the entire tournament. Jirik's Day 2 weight was enough to bring him all the way up to 51st place. He believes he was on the right track with what he was fishing, and had hear others were using the same techniques. The bigger fish, those over 20", just never showed themselves in the areas where Jirik was fishing.
Ryan Jirik's next tournament will be with the National Walleye Tour on August 29-30 on bay de Noc in Escanaba, Michigan. Jirik would like to thank all of his sponsors for their continued support. He states he could not fish at this level without the following sponsors: Team Walleye Bite, Jirik's sponsors include: Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Offshore Tackle, Downriver Tackle, Elk River Custom Rods, Lucky Craft and Shoeder's Marine.
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