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Skarlis, Lahr win tournament on Mississippi

National Professional Anglers Association members Tommy Skarlis and Jeff Lahr won the Full Throttle River Series Walleye Tournament on Pools 3 and 4 of the Mississippi River.

The team weighed 41.63 pounds for five fish to break the all-time Full Throttle weight record. Skarlis and Lahr outdistanced their nearest competitors (Kent and Dave Anderson) by over 14 pounds May 8.

The team's big fish weighed in at 9.70 pounds, but they weighed two more in that neighborhood.

"Our biggest fish came unpinned just beyond the net," Skarlis said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the rest of the field combined couldn't weigh a specimen over 8 pounds.

What creates a cushion that big?

"Tandem minnow-imitation stick baits on Lindy-style 3-way rigs," Skarlis said.

"Most of the field was jigging, but conditions were perfect for back-to-back minnowbaits. We found some real barnyard animals using wing dams and, in that sense, it was a classic early-season scenario."

With big-fish earnings, Skarlis and Lahr pulled in $4,000 for the win and an additional $250 in Ranger Cup Bonus money. They credited the win to Lahr's long history with rivers, wing dams and walleyes.

Skarlis is no slouch on a wing dam, either. Their combined wing-dam wisdom will be on display in the August issue of In-Fisherman magazine, providing insight on their unique methods of rigging and presenting tandem minnowbaits.

"Walleyes were hitting the lead lure," Lahr said in a statement. "When they're chewing the bait in the middle of a rig like that, it means they want the action dialed way down. So, even though the water temperature climbed above 60 (degrees) that day, the walleyes weren't extremely active. That told me we needed almost zero forward speed.

"I would slowly fan across the structure, fighting a strong north wind while Tommy kept an eye on landmarks. By keeping me abreast of our exact position, I was free to control speed, move laterally, and keep my eyes glued to the Humminbird.

"Being precise was critical. The bigger fish bit when we hovered or dropped the baits back a little. We needed to know exactly where we were at all times to be successful at it."

The team trolled slowly forward, pinpointing their rigs in the "slot" immediately upstream of key structures. Skarlis and Lahr spent most of the day between Lock 3 and Everts Resort in Hager City.

Second place in the event was 26.9 pounds. The third place team of Mike Schommer and Pat Brookshaw posted a total of 21.45 pounds. The remainder of the field-over 52 teams-all came in with less than 20 pounds.

The Full Throttle River Series returns to pools 3 and 4 on August 14.