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Illinois hunting and fishing

Sauger bite strong on Illinois River

March 29, 2010 at 07:31 AM

SPRING VALLEY – The bite was right in Spring Valley this weekend.  After fishing together for over twelve years, the Wisconsin team of Kevin Dahl and Steve Stack are proving that consistency is key – along with being in the ‘right place at the right time.’  The duo led from day one with an impressive 15.2 pounds – the biggest basket of the tournament.  Sealing the deal with 10.35 pounds on day two, they totaled 25.55 pounds paying out a sweet $19,500 and $1,000 in Cabela’s gift cards.

Dahl and Stack started fishing together in 1999 and won their second tournament they competed in, thinking that winning tournaments was a breeze.  They learned quickly that tournament wins do not always come so easy.  “Winning this tournament is so huge for us.  To finally meet goals and have all of our hard work payoff – it’s just awesome,” Dahl said.  Although they have finished top fives in many tournaments past, this was just the second MWC win for the team.  All of those consistent top finishes have paid off, as well.  Qualifying for eleven of the last twelve World Walleye Championships – the Muskego team will work their sticks this fall in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Stack won the Spring Valley tournament back in 1995 and says every year is different in Spring Valley.  “Pre-fishing is huge here—knowing the river current, working different presentations, and adjusting your depths. You just have to get out there and fish” Stack claims. They worked a slow and steady presentation of 3/8 ounce Northland jigs and Berkley power shads, tipped with Gulp! Minnows while finding most of their fish between 14-17 feet deep. “Using Berkley Fireline was a big success for us to feel the light hits with these smaller, less aggressive fish,” Dahl added.

The brothers-in-law team attributes their success to having a huge passion for fishing.  Dahl said, “We really gel together and are equals in the boat.  I know I can rely on him to catch fish and he has the same faith in me.”  Stack agrees, “We have such a mutual respect for each other and it shows when making decisions.”  The teams we work with are all tremendous anglers and we work so well together.  We couldn’t do this without them.”  Dahl adds.

Dahl and Stack rely on quality equipment to get them through tournaments.  They won every sponsor contingency bonus offered up by the MWC including:  $1,000 for Ranger Cup, $500 for Lowrance HDS, $200 from Oxygenator by using U2 during the tournament.  They were the top team in the Cabela’s Anglers Cash program netting them a $500 Cabela’s gift card.  Lastly, they were the top finishing Berkley Premier team earning another $500 Cabela’s gift card and advancing two levels in the Central Division Berkley Premier Team bracket.  The second place Berkley prize went to the Wisconsin team of Chris Hall (Mosinee) and Keith Daniels (Fond du Lac).  They took 4th place, earning $3,900 for their efforts and a Cabela’s gift card worth $300.  The third place Berkley Premier Team prize went to the mother and son team of Barbara Plautz (Milwaukee, WI) and Danny Plautz cashing in for a $200 Cabela’s gift card, finishing 9th place and earning an additional $2,000.  View the entire Berkley Premier Team bracket for each division and follow your favorite team at

The rest of the top five were as follows:

2nd – Brad Obermeier (Ankeny, IA) & Jack Neuman (Naperville, IL) – 22.53 pounds earning $7,200
3rd – Robert Apple (Chadwick, IL) & Brad Linton (Rock Falls, IL) – 22.40 pounds earning $4,800
4th – Chris Hall (Mosinee, WI) & Keith Daniels (Fond du Lac, WI) – 23.31 pounds earning $3,900
5th – Steve Skupien (Frankfort, IL) & Dave Kleszyk (Oakbrook Terrace, IL) - 21.93 pounds earning $3,300

This was the 24th consecutive year that the Illinois River has opened the MWC season and anglers love to keep coming back. “It’s a tradition to come to this great fishery,” said Dan Palmer, MWC Tournament Director. “The Asian carpe weren’t a factor for the sauger population as the anglers caught dozens of fish each day. Many anglers even reported catching over 100 fish each day!  This fishery is improving every year and floods from the past are producing more walleye and saugers than ever before.”

Big Fish results were as follows:

Day One
• 1: Boat # 111 - Ryan Vecchia, pictured at right, (Spring Valley, IL) Illinois hunting and fishing& Bill Elliott (Spring Valley, IL) 4.25 lbs. worth $1,300
• 2: Boat # 64 - Scott Allen (Green Bay, WI) & Dennis Butz (Suamico, WI) 3.76 lbs. worth $780
• 3: Boat # 35 - Marc Hoster (Seneca, IL) & Doug Hoster (Seneca, IL) 3.48 lbs. worth $550

Day Two
• 1: Boat # 78 - Robert Apple (Chadwick, IL) & Brad Linton (Rock Falls, IL) 4.70 lbs. worth $1,300
• 2: Boat # 73 - Brad Obermerier (Ankeny, IA) & Jack Neuman (Naperville, IL) 4.14 lbs. worth $780
• 3: Boat # 115 - Rom Plumb (Rock Island, IL) & Jim Lukancic (Chanahan, IL) 3.61 lbs. worth $550

In all, $66,600 was paid out to the top 25 places of the 128 boat field; $6,260 was paid out in big fish cash for the top three fish each day; and $3,200 was paid out in sponsor contingency bonuses for a grand total of $75,060.  In addition, the Spring Valley Walleye Club (SVWC) – hosting organization for this tournament for the last 24 years – received the MWC conservation fund of $1,920 to be used for fisheries improvements on the Illinois River.  The collaborative effort of the SVWC, the MWC, and the Illinois DNR has made a huge impact on this stretch of the river – gaining the town the well-earned reputation as the sauger capital of the world. In all, 1,047 fish were caught in the two days totaling 1762.25 pounds.

As always, the anglers were extremely appreciative of the hard work and dedication of the MANY volunteers of the Spring Valley Walleye Club. “The community and anglers realize how well we are treated at Spring Valley.  They roll out the red carpet for the anglers, which makes them want to come back every year,” shares Palmer.

NPAA (National Professional Anglers Association) members Brad Engebretson and Brian Sularz led a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic for dozens of local kids.  Those attending received rods and reels donated by Cabela’s, tackle boxes from Northland Fishing Tackle, t-shirts from the NPAA, and giveaways from Lowrance and Mercury.  Additionally, one lucky child received a bike donated by the Spring Valley City Bank.  Thank you to our sponsors for helping pass on the fishing fun to the next generation.

Next up, the Cabela’s MWC heads out East to Trenton, Michigan on the Detroit River and the Michigan waters of Lake Erie on April 17th and 18th. The rest of the season is as follows:

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My Buddies came in 11th

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