Brad Dirkman wins Cabela’s National Walleye Tour on Leech Lake; Laporte’s Jay Carroll is crowned co-angler champion

Three years ago Brad Dirkman of Underwood led the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament after the first day, but only weighed three small fish on the second day and fell to 10th place.

He was in the same position after day one Friday night of Cabela’s National Walleye Tour on Leech Lake.

This time Dirkman decided to play it safe on day two and it worked, as his total of 25.93 pounds won the pro-event and earned himself $63,127 in cash, bonuses and a new Ranger BMT boat and trailer.

Dirkman fished the first day on Walker Bay and did well with five walleyes weighing 18.35 pounds; and on the second day he weighed in five more for 8.48 pounds.

Under tournament rules, pros and co-anglers can keep two fish over 26 inches per day, and the other three must be between 15 and under 20 inches.

Tommy Skarlis, a former Walker resident, finished the pro-event in second place with a cumulative total of 25.93 pounds. Amazingly, he achieved that weight despite catching only seven keeper walleyes over the two days.

On day one, he managed only two fish, but they weighed 13.92 pounds. The second day he put a 12.01-pound limit in his live well — rising from fifth — to earn $23,628 with boat and motor bonuses.

The second-heaviest limit of the day belonged to longtime Nisswa guide Richie Boggs. After catching 8.53 pounds on day one, the veteran pro sacked a whopping 17.16-pound stringer and rose to third with a total weight of 25.69 pounds.

Rounding out the top five are Cabela’s pro Kevin McQuoid and Ohio pro Mark Brumbaugh. McQuoid started the day in third place with a solid slot program and slipped to fourth after catching a 9.87-pound limit. Like many others, McQuoid fished Walker Bay for his overs and had a milk run of spots for his slot fish. His cumulative total was 25.66 pounds, a weight that was achieved with just one over. If not for a .50-pound penalty for an expired fish, McQuoid would have finished second.

Mark Christianson of Walker was sitting in second place after day one with a 16.52-pound basket, but fell to 17th place after only bringing in two fish on day two for a total of 19.84 pounds, which did earn him $4,872 in cash.

Carroll crowned co-angler champion

Laporte angler Jay Carroll was crowned co-angler champion after catching 10 walleyes over two days weighing 32.12 pounds. This was Carroll’s first time ever cashing a check in a tournament and it was a big one at $6,926. His 19.94-pound day-two stringer was the heaviest of the tournament.

Carroll was almost speechless when he was announced the winner. “I’m speechless. I’m just happy to be here. This is just phenomenal.”

Finishing second in the co-angler was Cal Clausen of Veradale, Wash., with a two-day total of 30.11, which was good enough for $3,701 payday.

John Hoyer of Orono took third with 24.72 pounds and won $2,611.

The third qualifier of the 2015 Cabela’s National Walleye Tour season is slated for July 24-25 on Lake Michigan’s Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis.

Information provided by Brett Carlson, courtesy of Cabela’s National Walleye Tour.

Courts and Hoyer Win Angler of the Year Awards for Cabela’s National Walleye Tour

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Published September 22, 2015

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (September 22, 2015) – After the dust settled on the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) championship event at Devils Lake, North Dakota, pro-angler Mark Courts and co-angler John Hoyer emerged as the Lucas Oil Angler of the Year Award (AOY) winners. Along with custom Lucas Oil AOY rings, both anglers earned paid entry fees for the 2016 NWT season.

Pro-angler Mark Courts (right) and co-angler john Hoyer (left) pose with their Angler of the Year trophies at the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship event at Devils Lake, N.D., on Sept. 19. (For a high-res image, please contact Greg Duncan)

Courts has chased an AOY title for his 16 years of professional competition. After a number of tournament wins and close finishes in other AOY races, Courts can check this one off of his list.

“This was a huge relief,” said Courts. “It’s something I have strived for my whole career. That’s the one title I didn’t have. It’s something I am really proud of. Being that angler that stayed consistent enough throughout the year to win that title. I’m glad to have it up on the mantle.”
Courts made the decision to step up his game and become more aggressive with his decision making and tactics.
“I fished really aggressively all year,” said Courts. “I took some risks that worked out, which is always a part of being on top at the end. The one thing about tournament angling is there is always decision making involved. All of these decisions have to work out and this year it did.”
There were times during the season where Courts made mistakes but he didn’t let the setbacks put him in a losing mindset.
“I look at Green Bay where I lost a couple of crucial fish the second day,” said Courts. “That cost me some points, but I didn’t let it bother me. When we got to Devils Lake, I had a one point lead. That first day was where I almost mentally beat myself. I stopped and took a break to refocus. Then I settled in and started catching fish.”
Courts competed in all four NWT events and managed to place in the top 25 in each tournament. This consistency was key to topping the AOY leaderboard.
“It was one of those years where I was really consistent,” said Courts. “I fished really well and, for the most part, I fished really clean.”
John Hoyer finished first in the AOY race for the co-angler category with four straight top-10 finishes. After placing second at Lake City, Hoyer placed high again with third place at Leech Lake. The co-angler finished the regular season at Green Bay with another third-place podium call and placed fifth in the championship at Devils Lake.
“There’s obviously a lot of luck involved in the draws,” said Hoyer. “I tried to stay completely positive the whole time.”
Hoyer won over $10,000 fishing as a co-angler this season and plans to fish the pro category in 2016.
“This has kind of been the final push for me to finally go pro,” Hoyer said. “Fishing as a co-angler is the fastest crash course you can get as far as learning. Each pro does it just a little bit differently.”
Hoyer also credits his pro partners as an invaluable source of fishing knowledge with the pros always willing to impart a few bits of wisdom.
“They are very helpful,” said Hoyer. “We talk throughout the day and you can gain lots of knowledge from just talking. As much as you want to ask, they have answers for you.”
The Cabela’s National Walleye Tour will kick off the 2016 season in April and will include 3 qualifying events and a year-end championship. Dates and locations should be announced soon. For more details, anglers are encouraged to check out the website