PWT Mille Lacs Samson Tames Weather and Walleye On July 27, 2013
Samson strong, tames weather and walleye
Minnesota pro goes wire-to-wire in Mille Lacs Pro Walleye Tour victory
By Lynn Burkhead
ESPN Outdoors associate editor
Heading into the final round of the Professional Walleye Trail's Lowrance/Evertroll Central Pro Am stop at Minnesota's Lake Mille Lac, angler Bruce Samson was in familiar territory.
In a previous PWT event, Samson had been sitting in first place after the first two days, only to come up short at the final weigh-in.
This time, the Cambridge, Minn. angler entered the competition's third day May 25 with a 7.81-pound lead over his nearest competitor, Brian Ney of Baudette, Minn. And the part-time pro fisherman/full-time doctor was determined not to let history repeat itself.
It didn't. Samson dispatched the Mille Lac field going away to claim the first place check of $50,000.
"When I had the third fish, I figured that I had won," he said. "I knew that they would really have to do well to beat me. And then when I got five, I knew they would really, really have to do good to beat me. It was good."
In a week when bad weather kept the wind stirred up, many anglers found the howling gales and sporadic rain difficult to deal with. But like the Biblical character bearing his name, Samson was strong enough to withstand the onslaught.
“ I knew they would really, really have to do good to beat me. ”
— Bruce Samson
"The weather when you're fishing slip bobbers like I was, the wind doesn't affect you because you're sitting at anchor," he said. "Then you can just sit on your fish and even eat sandwiches. It really isn't hard to fish (in the wind), the hardest part is the ride to the fish."
While Samson boated five walleye for a final day weight of 10.25 pounds, it was the tournament's first-day tally of six fish tipping the scales at 19.61 pounds that made him a two-time winner on the PWT.
"Yes, my first day set the tone," he said. "Actually, I've been kind of lucky that way. When I won at Devil's Lake, I led wire to wire. I like having a big lead after the first day and having a good lead going into the final day. It's like having a few fish in the box already."
Bruce Samson weighed in 16 walleye at 45.57 pounds to earn a $50,000 purse.
Samson acknowledged that it was his ability — or luck — to catch not one, but two big fish in the tournament's first two days that put him over the top. On Wednesday, the angler boated a 7.96 pound walleye, which was followed up on Thursday with a 7.64 pound fish.
"It's the luck of the draw and it's also the places that I'm fishing," he said. "They do have big fish that live there, but it's still the luck of the draw. I'm really lucky this week. Somebody's got to be lucky and I guess it might as well be somebody waiting for the opportunity."
The win should put the angler into serious contention to grab a spot in the PWT Mercury/Dodge Championship event this September at the Missouri River near Bismarck, N.D.
"You have to fish all six-tournaments to qualify on a win, but I'm going to sneak in anyhow. If you just fish the Western Division like I do, they'll take the top six. And I'm leading the Western Division with one tournament to go, so I think I'll get in."
Runner-up Brian Ney, who collected $15,000, made a run at Samson but came up short.
"We had our limit by about 9:30 this morning and we stayed there and upgraded a couple," Ney said. "After that, we went out to the mud to try and catch a big one. We caught three fish out there, but none of them were big enough to go 28 inches."
Rounding out the top five were Conover, Wisc., angler Norb Wallock in third place with 18 fish weighing 40.35 pounds, good enough to collect $10,000.
Daryl Christensen of Montello, Wisc., finished grabbed the fourth place and $7,500 with 16 fish weighing 38.79 pounds. Cylinder, Iowa angler Eric Naig secured the fifth place check of $5,500 with 18 fish weighing 38.26 pounds.