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Rhodes, Koester Win Cabela's MWC
March 31, 2014
Rhodes, Koester Win Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit¿SeasonOpener On The Illinois River¿Presented byBerkley Baits
ForImmediate Release¿¿Spring Valley, Ill.¿March 30, 2014¿Scott Rhodes and Jeff Koester racked up animpressive 26 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit's2014 season opener on the Illinois River at Spring Valley, Illinois.
"The feelingis surreal, it's going to take awhile to sink in," Koester, of Brookville,Indiana, beamed moments after claiming victory in front of a raucous riversidecrowd gathered to watch the festivities at historic Barto Landing.
He andRhodes collected the $11,100 first-place cash payout, plus $500 in BerkleyArtificial-Only Bonus Cash, the $500 Berkley Baits contingency, $200 OptimaTrue Blue award, and $950 from the MWC Big Fish Pot for their Day 1 big fish.They also claimed a $1,000 Cabela's National Team Championship Prize Packageincluding paid NTC entry, travel stipend, team jerseys and plaques.
Held March29-30, the tournament marked the circuit's 28th-consecutive season opener on theIllinois, and the beginning of its 30th season of team walleye tournament competition. Two-person teamswere allowed to weigh five walleyes, saugers or saugeyes per day. In anexciting twist for 2014, this year's tournament was an "artificial-only"event¿with extra winnings at stake as anglers put their favorite crankbaits,spinners, Berkley Gulp!-type softbaits and other man-made presentations to thetest, while live bait such as minnows and nightcrawlers were off limits.
As it turned out, artificial presentations were hardly asetback. Koester and Rhode's total trumped the Circuit's 2013 Spring Valleywinning weight by nearly eight pounds. Last March, Iowans Clayton Freiburgerand Mike Bisdorf weighed in 18.15 pounds to win the MWC season opener. Theartificial-only format emerged this season thanks to a partnership betweenBerkley Gulp! and the Cabela's MWC, with Berkley kicking in an additional$2,500 in prize money for the anglers.
Rhodes andKoester came out swinging on Day 1, weighing a hefty 14-pound, 6-ounce limitthat would prove to be big basket of the tournament. They also weighed big fishof the day, a 4-pound, 15-ounce walleye. They closed the deal on Day 2 with an11-pound, 14-ounce limit. Their go-to tactic was hand-lining crankbaits lacedwith walleye-formula Berkley PowerBait Attractant. Koester noted that theirhand-line leads were 25-pound-test Berkley Big Game line.
It wasn'tthe team's first trip to the winner's circle. They were crowned 2007 Cabela'sMWC World Walleye Champions, and have won a pair of MWC Walleye Madness events."But winning an MWC regular-season qualifier has remained a major goalthroughout the years," Koester said. "It's fantastic," added Rhodes, ofInterlochen, Michigan. "Everything went right for two days straight."
Heath Bohmanof Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and Gordy Powers of Rockford, Minnesota,finished a close second with 24 pounds, 1 ounce, worth $5,500 plus the $1,000Ranger Cup contingency and $300 Berkley Bonus Cash. In fourth place, theIllinois team of Ryan Feldott, of Spring Valley, and Chris Payne, of Oglesby,claimed the $500 Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch and Elite 7 contingency. Illinois' BobHorvath, of Mokena, and Mike Thomas, of Wilton, earned $500 custom RockstarHitch-Mounted Mud Flaps for jumping 31 places from 70th on Day 1 to 39th place on Day 2. In all, the top 16teams shared more than $51,850 in cash and prizes.
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