With a lifetime of fishing and 15 years of tournament participation under his belt, Jay Carroll fishes competitively to have fun, thinking what ever happens, happens. But, when he won $6,926 as the co-angler champion of the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour, June 13 in Walker, Minn., he was left speechless.
“Winning this tournament is phenomenal,” said Carroll, who spends his days as a general maintenance worker in Bemidji State University’s Hobson Memorial Union. “I haven’t gotten to travel with the circuit, but whenever they come to town I always get in. It’s a great experience; you get to learn a lot. And I guess sometimes you even win.”
Scoring is determined by the combined weight of both contestants’ catch during the tournament. Teams of professional fishermen and co-anglers work together to maximize their daily boat weight for a catch of five fish. In this tournament, four of the five scoring fish were required to be within a slot limit of 20-26 inches in length, with one fish allowed to be larger.
On the first day of the tournament, Carroll was paired with renowned walleye fisherman Tom Keenan. The duo started the day pulling spinner lures for fish in the 20-26-inch slots.
“It was a perfect day for fishing — I’d describe it as sunburn weather,” he said. “There was a little wind, but it still left the lake calm.”
After getting what they needed, they went to Walker Bay and were fortunate enough to catch one over.
For the second day, Carroll drew Dave Andersen of Amery, Wis., for his partner. This time, Carroll and his teammate started on Walker Bay, only to find a hoard of other boats waiting at their first choice of spots. Unfazed, the two stayed with it and coaxed a 29-incher. Roughly a half hour later they caught another over, this one measuring 27 inches. Carroll explained his 19.94-pound day-two stringer as one from a “perfect world.”
Carroll’s performance might qualify him for the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship this September in Devils Lake, S.D. He is also has given thought to joining the tour next year, traveling the country and competing in monthly events.
His advice for those debating whether or not to enter tournaments, like he once did, is to not be afraid.
“It’s a great experience and it’s a couple days of guided fishing, with the latest technology, and the chance to possibly win,” he said. “If you have even the slightest idea of doing it – just give it a shot. No matter what, it’s a guaranteed day of fishing.”