By John Vrancic
For the Daily News
GLADSTONE - It was a big payday for a pair of Wisconsin fishermen as they won the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit Bays de Noc tournament.
Dan McGuire of Tomahawk and Luke Kersten of Boyceville caught five fish weighing 30.32 pounds to earn the top prize of $14,900 on Sunday.
"Our plan was to go as far south as we could because we had gotten some fish down there during pre-fishing," McGuire said, noting they started fishing by trolling near the shoreline south of Cedar River. "We worked our way north and got our fish in shallow water (about 8-10 feet)."
Runners-up John Schneider of Shawano, Wis., and John Hazen of Bay City also headed south of Cedar River and caught five fish, which weighed 30.06.
"We can't get much closer than that, can we," said Schneider. "We were trolling in about 15-25 feet of water. We never fish much deeper than that."
Schneider and Hazen, who are cousins, gained $6,400 for taking second. They also caught the tourney's biggest fish (8.66 pounds) for an additional $1,500.
They were followed by downstate duo David Leach of Linwood and Alan Szoke of Grosse Ile, who netted five fish (24.61) for a $4,200 payday.
Loren Kositzky and Milton Anderson of Escanaba placed fifth with five fish (24.09), earning $2,600. Donald Corbett of Esky and Patrick Cassidy of Rapid River were sixth, also netting five fish (22.88) for $2,200.
The tourney was reduced to a one-day event after dangerous weather conditions forced cancellation of Saturday's fishing.
"At first, they were just going to have us stay in the bay (Little Bay de Noc)," said McGuire. "Our hope was they would just cancel for the day. We didn't want to play catch-up with teams that would maybe pull up 10-12 pounds in the bay. I think they made the right decision."
Even with the improved conditions Sunday, contestants still battled windy conditions and waves of 5-6 feet.
"Boat control is the key," said Schneider. "You can't go at your desired speeds when the waves are that high."
Adding to the challenge was a drop of 15 degrees in water temperature during a three-day period last week.
"I think the water temperature shut the fish off," said McGuire. "The fish just don't feed as much in colder water. We needed things to stabilize."
In the big fish category, James and Brian Keller of Neenah and Winneconne, Wis., respectively, earned $900 for their 8.47-pounder and John Clumpner of Little Suamico and Scott Ristow of Mosinee, Wis. landed a 7.69-pounder for $600.
Clumpner and Ristow placed fourth in the team standings with their four-fish catch of 24.19 pounds. They were awarded an additional $3,200.
The tourney drew 93 teams, which was pleasing to MWC senior event coordinator Dan Johnson.
"This was just another great Cabela's tournament on the Bays de Noc," he said. "We've been coming here for many years (since the 1990s) and have never been disappointed. The community as a whole is wonderful and the fisheries are top-notch. We enjoy coming here."