ESCANABA - Korey Sprengel of Beaver Dam, Wis. stood, nervously waiting in anticipation for his final 3-day weight to be announced. Being the last of the 10 anglers to get weighed brought about a touch of drama to a fantastic finish in the FLW Walleye Tour Bays de Noc Tournament.
Standing next to Sprengel was Ryan Dempsey of Oneida, Wis., who had just moved into first place with a monster 25 pound, 10 oz. bag.
That meant Sprengel needed some serious walleye to vault into the lead.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Korey Sprengel of Beaver Dam, Wis., reacts upon hearing his Saturday weight, giving him first place in the FLW Walleye Tour Bays de Noc Tournament.
Sprengel's third day haul of 23 pounds, 4 oz. was solid enough to squeak him by. That's no understatement. Boosted by an unreal day 2 of the tournament, Sprengel edged past Dempsey by a fraction of an ounce to win the tournament and take home the $50,000 check.
"I think it was a good day," the cool and collected Sprengel quipped on stage Saturday afternoon at Wal-Mart. In front of a large crowd, TV cameras and all the exposure a professional angler could ask for, the 24-year old Sprengel relished the victory.
"I was pretty jacked when I caught a 31-incher yesterday (Friday) and got that 26-inch fish. I finally got fish that were there during pre-fishing," he said of the clutch moment during the 3-day tournament.
1. Korey Sprengel, Beaver Dam, Wis., 77-1, $50,000
2. Ryan Dempsey, Oneida, Wis., 77-1, $15,400
3. Danny Plautz, Madison, Wis., 73-1, $10,900
4. Ross Grothe, Northfield, Minn., 70-7, $9,100
5. John Schneider, Shawano, Wis., 70-3, $8,200
6. Bill Shimota, Lonsdale, Minn., 70-3, $8,800
7. Derek Parker, Skandia, Mich., 67-2, $6,400
8. Nick Schertz, Tomahawk, Wis., 60-6, $5,500
9. Chad Schilling, Akaska, S.D., 59-14, $4,050
10. Dusty Minke, Forest Lake, Minn., 56-5, $6,100
1. William Bay, Berlin, Wis., 78-7, $6,000
2. Phillip Riccio Jr., Huntley, Ill., 77-2, $2,700
3. Kenny Brenner, Moline, Ill., 72-12, $1,800
4. Douglas Ripperger, Eldridge, Iowa, 69-15, $1,440
5. David Klamfoth, Waverly, Iowa, 67-5, $1,260
6. Todd Rieder, Fond Du Lac, Wis., 66-8, $1,080
7. Keith Hahn, McHenry, Ill., 64-8, $900
8. Steve Beasley, Macomb, Mich., 58-2, $720
9. Leroy McCoy, Fridley, Minn., 57-8, $630
10. Tyrone Larson, Amherst, Wis., 53-9, $540
Sprengel said he fished on Big Bay and knew where to go from previous tournaments.
"I found some spots last year, but this year it was weird, they (the fish) were only at a certain point," he said. "I used mainly crawler harnesses, but today also used some cranks. I only caught one (out of five) fish with the crank bait though."
Overall, it was Sprengel's ability to adapt that likely put him over the top.
"You can't go out on this body of water with one particular gameplan and expect things not to change. It always changes and you have to expect that and be prepared for it," he said.
Derek Parker of Skandia, the lone U.P. resident to have made the top-10 cut on Friday, finished in seventh place with a three-day total weight of 67 pounds, 2 ounces. His third day bag of 19 pounds, 12 ounces was his lightest of the weekend, but he was still able to move up from 10th place to take home a total of $6,400 in prize money.
"The winds were good today, the fish just didn't want to bite. I had to switch to cranks, which I haven't done all week, but it was the only way to catch a fish today," he said.
Dempsey was the day 1 leader and briefly had the lead on day 3 before settling in second place, not even an ounce behind Sprengel, despite having the largest day 3 bag.
"I tried to stay focused and not stress out," he said. "I thought as long as the equipment remained sound, the fishing would take care of itself."
Only 6 of the 10 anglers were able to bring in the five fish limit on a hot, humid and cloudy day. Chad Schilling of Akaska, S.D., who was named FLW Angler of the Year on Friday and Dusty Minke of Forest Lake, Minn. each came in with two fish while Nick Schertz of Tomahawk, Wis., had three fish and Ross Grothe of Northfield, Minn., had four.