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Rugby angler wins big
May 17, 2019

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What a win it was!

Zach Axtman of Rugby claimed top honors earlier this month at a National Walleye Tour tournament held on Lake Winnebago out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. With 165 boats participating, it was a record field for any NWT event.

The winning weight of 10 walleyes for a total of 27.40 pounds earned Axtman total winnings of $84,614. The total earnings included a Ranger 620FS boat with a 225 hp Mercury motor.

Weather for pre-fishing and for the two-day event was less than ideal for walleye fishing. Temperatures in the low 40's, rain and windy conditions tested the best professional fishermen in the field. Axtman, a second year pro, used a slip bobber technique he had come to rely on from frequent fishing forays to Devils Lake.

"I used just a plain hook and leech," said Axtman. "It was because water temps were dropping throughout the week and it really slowed the bite down on other techniques. I just wanted to make sure I kept the bait in front of walleyes as long as possible."

The second place weight, caught by Tim Euting of Pickett, Wis., was more than two pounds less than Axtman's. Axtman's fish on day one the second and final day included three at 20 one-half inches, one at 20 3/4 inches and one at 21 1/2 inches.

Other North Dakota anglers participating at Lake Winnebago included J.R. Carter, Mandan, 8th place, Curt Hanson, Mayville, 34th, Johnnie Candle, Devils Lake, 45th, Pearl Gillespie, Minot, 67th, Jacob Ell, Bismarck, 72nd, Jim Carroll, Minot, 80th and Kris Walcker, Minot, 87th.

When asked if he was going to fish the remaining events on the NWT circuit, Axtman responded, "I am. I am going to fish the rest of the circuit."

Remaining events on the NWT are Marinette, Wis. (Green Bay) May 30-31, Soult Ste Marie, Mich. (between Lake Huron and Lake Superior), July 25-26 and the 2019 championship Sept. 11-13 at Graham's Island State Park on Devils Lake.

Fundingsland is a staff writer for the Minot Daily News.

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