WildIndiana Pro Staff Member Michael Parks (pictured above, right) of Noblesville and his partner Shannon Brown (ab0ve, left) of Dillsboro have received an invitation to compete in the Cabela’s National Team Championship at Milford Reservoir in Junction City, Kansas, May 27-30, 2015.
This tournament is a result of partnerships formed with Cabela’s, The Walleye Federation, and walleye tournaments, circuits and clubs across the nation. The goal of this partnership is to create a national championship that will allow grass-roots anglers to shine under the spotlight of national media attention and fish for their share of $200,000 dollars in cash and prizes.
Up to 250 two-man teams will compete for two days to make the short list of 25 entries that will fish the final day and the championship. Prizes include cash and two brand new Ranger Walleye boats for the winning team.
An invitation was received by those who have qualified by winning specific events, or finishing in the top of their federated chartered club. This includes state and national level events held in the previous season. These anglers will be at it against some of the best “sticks” in the walleye community from across the country.
Michael and Shannon, after several years of competing at local events and open tournaments in the region, decided to try a state level tournament but with no such walleye clubs in the region, the pair decided to compete in Ohio. This venture put them on unfamiliar waters and fishing for an unfamiliar species, the walleye’s wily cousin: the “Saugeye” (a hybrid between walleye and sauger) There experience proved a test of the old “sink or swim” theory.
Park answered a few questions about the adventure for WildIndiana:
Question: How much experience did you have on the lakes you fished and what was it like to go from targeting walleye to Saugeye?
MP: “We read as many online posts as we could. We studied every map we could find of the lakes and terrain. We found out fast that walleye and Saugeye are two completely different animals. As far as fishing time? We generally got to a new lake the morning before the tourney and got a few hours to locate structure and areas we wanted to research more. On Indian Lake, we never got that chance. We literally seen the lake for the first time as we launched for the event.”
Question: What were your goals and how did they compare to your results?
MP: “Our goals were to learn the lakes, and the fish, and sponge up as much info as we could. Our goal was to bring at least one fish to the scale each event. (Fortunately)…we finished mid pack or higher in each event. Against some great anglers mind you, and we managed to win the one event that was supposed to be the hardest on the schedule. Fortunately for us, it was a true walleye fishery. So needless to say, we were ecstatic about what we accomplished!”
Question: What are your goals for this (so-far) biggest event of your fishing career?
MP: “First of all, we’re are just glad and happy for the shot to fish such a large scale event against some of the best in the country. We may jokingly dream about the big pay day, but if we weigh fish for the first two days, and represent out sponsors in a professional positive manner, we feel like we are coming away winners. Ideally we would like to make the top 25 and get a chance to fish day three. Then again, we can dream.”
Question: It is expensive to fish on such a level. What about sponsorships?
MP: “The great folks that have supported us, and made this possible, this is for them: those who have believed in us and made our lives easier and the fishing more affordable. Like, the guys at Esslers Auto service who keep my old Chevy running, Mike Larson and his wonderful custom jigs that catch most of our fish and OutdoorsmanDirect.com who helps keep our costs as low as possible. One team I would really want to thank is the staff over at Parkside Marine in Brookville. I’m hard on a boat and equipment and they keep me up and running. Not to mention co-owner Jeff Koester is one of the top walleye anglers in the country and he has taught me a lot!”
Michael and Shannon will be sending daily updates from the event. Check out the reports on WildIndiana.com and social media starting May 26 as Michael and Shannon represent our state and the WildIndiana team!