ESCANABA - Chad Schillilng had every reason to smile after Friday's second round of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour tournament on the Bays de Noc.
The Akaska, S.D. resident, who has been consistent throughout this season, was selected the tour's 2012 Angler of the Year on this sunny and warm day.
"I didn't think it would happen," said Schilling. "I'm just stunned. This is the greatest field of fishermen in the world. So many guys were right there. It's always a possibility, but I don't fish for it. I'm one of the luckiest guys on the planet. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. This has been a great season and it keeps getting better.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Derek Parker, left, of Skandia and co-angler John Mickish of White Bear Lake, Minn., show off their catch at the Friday weigh-in at the Escanaba Marina during the FLW Walleye Tour Bays de Noc Tournament. Parker was the lone U.P. native to make the top 10 cut, coming in 10th place with a 2-day weight total of 47 pounds, 6 ounces, and will fish today with the final weigh-in slated for 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart.
"I've actually made some terrible decisions this year, which is something you don't overcome. You just move on and learn from it."
Schilling, who also earned a trophy and $10,000 for his efforts, again landed his five-fish limit. He brought 21 pounds, eight inches to the scales Friday, running his two-day total to 49-3. He's fifth in the standings among the professional anglers heading into today's championship round of the final regular-season stop on the tour.
The tour's championship tourney is set for Oct. 25-28 at Moline, Ill.
The top 10 in each division, all of whom landed 10 fish through two days and qualified for today's championship round, include:
Professional - 1, Korey Sprengel, Beaver Dam, Wis., 53-13; 2, Ryan Dempsey, Oneida, Wis., 51-7; 3, Ross Grothe, Northfield, Minn., 50-4; 4, Dan Plautz, Madison, Wis., 50-0; 5, Chad Schilling, Akaska, S.D., 49-3; 6, John Schneider, Shawano, Wis., 48-15; 7, Nick Schertz, Tomahawk, Wis., 47-14; 8, Dusty Minke, Forest Lake, Minn., 47-11; 9, Bill Shimota, Lonsdale, Minn., 47-10; 10, Derek Parker, Skandia, 47-6.
Co-angler - 1, Phillip Riccio, Huntley, Ill., 53-14; William Bay, Berlin, Wis. 52-13; 3, Douglas Ripperger, Eldridge, Ill., 49-12; 4, Kenny Brenner, Moline, Ill., 49-11; 5, Steve Beasley, Macomb, Mich., 47-7; 6, Todd Rieder, Fond du Lac, Wis., 45-4; 7, Leroy McCoy, Fridley, Minn., 45-0; 8, Tyrone Larson, Amherst, Wis., 44-15; 9, David Klamfoth, Waverly, Ia. and Keith Hahn, McHenry, Ill., 44-12 (tie).
Korey Sprengel of Beaver Dam, Wis. moved into the lead in the pro division by catching five fish weighing 28-6.
His total stands at 53-13, followed by Ryan Dempsey of Oneida, Wis. (51-7) and Ross Grothe of Northfield, Minn. (50-4).
Sprengel and co-angler C.J. Johnson of Monticello, Ia. had two fish until 2:30 p.m., then caught four within the next five minutes. Among their collection was a 31-incher.
"Today was a little slower than yesterday, and we figured it would be with the east wind," said Sprengel. "Then, the sun came out which warmed up the water a little and the activity picked up. We moved around in about a mile circle. It's one of those spots which I'm pretty confident will hold up even with the wind forecast for Saturday."
Derek Parker of Skandia hung in the top 10 with 47-6, edging Stephen Paulsen of Peshtigo, Wis. by 10 ounces for the last qualifying spot.
"I pre-fished alone all well and told my friends and family that I thought I could compete," said Parker, who combined with John Mickish of White Bear Lake, Minn. for five fish and 20-15 on Friday. "I don't know if I'll win it, but I think I can compete. The wind predicates where you fish. I wanted to prepare for fishing with wind from any direction and know where I could fish if there was no wind."
Glenn Chenier of Gladstone finished 19th at 43-7, earning a check for $2,070. Former Rapid River resident Tom Keenan took 23rd (42-0).
"Again, we couldn't get that big one," said Keenan, the 2011 Angler of the Year. "We only got five today. Yet, we had five bites and put them all in the landing net. I won't be fishing tomorrow, but I'll at least get a check (for $1,890) and be fishing in the championship tournament at Moline."
Also finishing in the money was Jerry Plourde of Cornell, who took 26th at 41-14 and gained $1,800.
Neil Amatti of Gwinn led the remaining Upper Peninsula pro anglers in 39th,
followed by former Rapid River resident Mark Keenan 44th, Don Loch of Iron Mountain 62nd, Richard Haney of Arnold 66th and Lynn Hanisko of Escanaba 71st.
Phillip Riccio, Jr. of Huntley, Ill. leads the co-anger category at 53-14, followed by William Bay of Berlin, Wis. (52-13) and Douglas Ripperger of Eldridge, Ia. (49-12).
Jim Hubert of Bark River finished 33rd, with Scott Peterson of Escanaba 49th, David Hanes of Rapid River 57th and J.J. Scully of Menominee 91st.
An FLW Expo begins today at noon and includes a family fishing clinic at 2:30 at Wal-Mart. The final weigh-in starts at 4.
Also included in today's activities is the National Guard Soldier Appreciation tournament.