PORT CLINTON -- The pros of the walleye fishing world will launch the second tournament of their season with a noisy blast-off from the Nor'Easter Club early Thursday morning, carrying with them visions of Lake Erie serving up some of its huge fish before the three-day event wraps up.
The FLW Pro Walleye Fishing Tour is competing on Lake Erie for the eighth time in the last decade. Close to 150 anglers are expected to take part, with the pros battling for a top prize of up to $63,000.
Ross Robertson is one of a handful of local anglers entered in the tournament, but he does not expect the Erie regulars to have a big advantage over the rest of the elite field, since the big lake is a less complex puzzle when compared to some of the smaller bodies of water on the tour.
"Out here, all the home court means is that if the bite is really tough, it might give me a leg up for a while, but Lake Erie is simpler fishing than most places the pros visit," he said. "With the Internet and all of the information that is out there on Lake Erie, most of these guys probably already know where they plan to fish, and how. The locals would have a much bigger advantage on the other lakes where those kinds of resources aren't available."
Each day of competition will end with a public weigh-in of the competitors' catch. The weigh-in takes place at Waterworks Park here at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and at the Walmart on East Harbor Road at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Robertson said he will shun the crowds while out on the water, and travel as far as he needs to in order to find big fish in a cooperative mood.
"I'm sort of a recluse when it comes to fishing. I usually fish where there's nobody else around," he said. "I'm not paranoid, but I've seen the things that make a difference."
Last year's winner on Lake Erie, Jeff Graves of the Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls, claimed the top prize with more than 117 pounds of walleyes weighed in over the three days.
Although this year's winner might not eclipse that mark since spring arrived earlier and the walleyes are spawned out, Robertson said that unlike most other walleye lakes, Erie won't have those periods where the fishing gets so tough that everyone struggles.
"On Lake Erie, no matter what's going on, somebody is going to catch fish," he said. 'You can have three hours of nothing, and then have four fish on, one after another. The toughest part with Lake Erie is that you can't stumble, because you won't catch up. Other places, one good fish a day can do it, but here, that won't cut it."
Robertson expects the pros to wow the crowds at the weigh-ins with their walleye fishing prowess.
"For the best guys out here, it takes them about five seconds to figure things out -- they are that good," he said. "But all of these tournaments are an educated crapshoot. You just hope to be a little more educated than everybody else."
OUTDOORS EXPO: The FLW pros who missed the cut in the tournament will hold a session on fishing tips, techniques, and share a few tales from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Walmart on East Harbor Road. The event is free and open to the public. It will be followed by the final tournament weigh-in and the crowning of the tournament champion.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.