Montanans capture Governor’s Cup

GARRISON – Locals held the lead after Day 1 of the North Dakota Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby, but couldn’t protect their lead on Day 2.

The team of Eric Stebbens and Josh Pochant of Coleharbor led after the first day with a five walleye weight of 23.38 pounds. Ken Schmidt and Mark Jones, a pair of fishermen from Montana, were alone in second place with 19.4 pounds. While the weights were less than what many fishermen expected, it became obvious during weigh-ins the first day that a limit of 2- to 3-pound walleyes would be an excellent catch.

Stebbens and Pochant didn’t fare quite as well on Day 2, weighing in five walleyes for 7.76 pounds and a two-day total of 31.14. Schmidt and Jones rallied with a 13.11-pound catch to win the event with a total of 32.51 pounds.

The team of Stuart Mead, Hazen, and Dale Westemeier, Beulah, made a big move on Day 2. After a first-day catch of 13.87 pounds, the duo of anglers brought 16.19 pounds to the scale on Day 2. They moved up from 13 to third place with 30.6 pounds.

Fishermen all along the lake had reported difficulty in finding and catching walleyes, especially bigger fish, since Lake Sakakawea experienced a big rise a few weeks ago. The winning weight was the least since 2011 and more than 11 pounds less than the winning team a year ago.

This year’s Governor’s Cup was held July 18-19 out of Fort Stevenson State Park. Weigh-in was conducted at the City Park in Garrison. First place paid $10,000, second place $4,400 and third $3,420. A total of 42 of 150 teams finished in the money with placements 33-42 receiving $250.