DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — John Hoyer of Orono, Minn., weighed in a three-day total of 67.73 pounds of walleyes to win the Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops National Walleye Tour championship, which wrapped up Saturday, Sept. 14, on Devils Lake.
The tournament, which got underway Wednesday, Sept. 11, was scheduled to conclude Friday, Sept. 13, but bad weather Thursday, Sept. 12, prompted organizers to cancel fishing for that day and move the remainder of the competition back a day.
A total of 87 pros and 87 amateur co-anglers fished the tournament, and the top 10 anglers in each division after the first two days went on to compete for the championship.
Hoyer took home a prize package worth $97,320, including a Ranger 621 FS Pro with a 300-horse Mercury outboard, for winning the championship.
Rounding out the top five pros and their three-day totals were:
Second: Tommy Kemos, Oconomowoc, Wis., 67.30 pounds.
Third: Dusty Minke, Walker, Minn., 65.02 pounds.
Fourth: Greg Ehli, Bismarck, 61.19 pounds.
Fifth: Tom Keenan, Hatley, Wis., 59.66 pounds.
Ehli was the only pro from North Dakota to make it to Saturday’s championship round.
Hoyer on Saturday fished East Devils Lake, where he boated a 24.59-pound limit to win the championship.
“It was a sand-to-rock transition that went from the bay to the point,” Hoyer said in a news release. “It was basically a sand runway. The water was 8 to 10 feet, and they were feeding on perch. My fish weighed heavier because they were eating those perch. That made a huge difference.”
Five of the 15 walleyes Hoyer weighed in during the three days of competition came by fishing 1/16-ounce jigs and leeches under slip bobbers; he caught the rest using Shiver Minnows, Jigging Raps and Johnny Darters.
“I’m numb; I have no idea how it feels,” said Hoyer, who has finished first, second and first in his last three NWT events. “It’s not like anything. It’s not real. You don’t get the chance to win very often. I’ve had three of those chances in one year and two went my way.”
Winning the co-angler division was Drake McCarthy of Minnesota Lake, Minn. — Hoyer’s partner for the final day — who weighed in a three-day total of 65.19 pounds of walleyes to take home a prize package worth $26,839.
Dylan Nussbaum of St. Mary’s, Pa., who won a qualifying NWT tournament on Devils Lake in 2018, finished in 61st place with a two-day total of 14.97 pounds of walleyes.