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Suburban Chicago team takes MWC Central Division team of the year

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With a second place at Green Bay on Sunday, Bill Sutton of Lindenhurst and Bill Vojak of Antioch won the Masters Walleye Circuit Central Division Team of the Year title.

MWC09 Central Division Team Of The Year

Sutton and Vojak honed their skills on local tournaments before teaming four years ago on the MWC.

This year they opened with a 20th at Spring Valley, then followed that with a 15th at Lake Pepin, Minn., and the second on Green Bay.

Bartlett angler John Balla teamed with Heath Bohman of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. to take third on Green Bay.

Here's the post-tournament release from the MWC.




Marinette, WI/Menominee, MI - July 12, 2009 -
The Wisconsin team of Joe Knowles (Sherwood) and Gordon 'Butch' Rabetski (Neenah) capture a big win on the Bay of Green Bay, July 11th & 12th. They had the lead on day one with 23.44 pounds and completed their victory with 28.44 pounds on day two, the second largest basket of the tournament, for a total of 51.88 pounds. Their victory earned them $14,650 in prize money plus $1,000 for Ranger Cup and another $200 for the Oxygenator Bonus. They also earned an additional $770 in big fish cash on day two for bringing in the largest fish of the day with a 9.96 pounder, giving them a grand total of $16,620.

Holding the lead from start to finish really put the heat on the winners on Sunday. "We felt the pressure of being in the lead and wanted to get out to a fast start," shared Butch Rabetski. Joe Knowles chimed in, "We started out with a 24 inch fish right away in the morning which told us that our fish were in that spot. The next fish we caught was 21 inches and we went back and forth on whether we were going to keep that fish. We decided to throw it back to the fish gods and on our next pass we had our big fish of the day and then a 23 incher. We were done fishing by 12:45p.m. so we took a nice slow drive in to the weigh-in site to make sure our fish could handle the ride."

Knowles and Rabetski planned to start out by fishing Larson's Reef near Sturgeon Bay but were unable stay in their spot with the heavy winds on Saturday. So they resorted to 'Plan B,' which was to troll from the shoreline out, off of Geanos Reef where they targeted deep fish in 23' to 28' of water, using in-line ¾ ounce spinner rigs with crawler harnesses. They were able to find a spot holding fish all day in a section of water that changed from a gravel bar to mud repeatedly. Straight line trolling at 1.0 - 1.1 mph seemed to be the trick as they were catching fish 20' - 22' feet down. "We used red and gold beads with # 5 copper hammered blades with a red and black stripe on it," shared Rabetski. Knowles states, "At one point, a fish had knocked one of the blades off. So now we are down to one. Things quit working so I thought...'I have some Sharpies in my glove compartment,' so I colored it up; a red stripe on one side of a copper blade and a black stripe on the opposite side. And it worked!" It certainly did as Knowles celebrated his 2nd win in two years on the MWC. He also won at Lake Winnebago in 2008 with a different partner.

This tournament also marked the end of the Central Division for 2009, with that came our Central Division Team of the Year title which went to the Illinois team of Bill Sutton (Lindenhurst) and Bill Vojak ( Antioch ). They finished with 214 division points winning the Central Division by eleven points. They had a large deficit to make up heading into the tournament as Iowans Maury Schmerbach and Marty Berns, both of Dubuque , had a twenty point lead. Sutton and Vojak were able to put together a program at this tournament that gave them a 2nd place finish. "This goes to show you that you can't ever give up as you never know how other teams will do," shared Kristine Houtman, Executive Director of the MWC. "I have always preached to the anglers that every fish counts and they should always fish hard to the end."

Sutton and Vojak progressively excelled in the Central Division. They started out the year at Spring Valley, IL with a 20th place finish followed up by a 15th place finish on Lake Pepin, MN and completed the division on the Bay of Green Bay with their 2nd place finish. Besides the honor of being the Central Division Team of the Year, their win also netted them a cool $3,180 plus beautiful new trophies. This is their fourth year fishing together on the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit as they teamed up after fishing against each other on local circuits in Illinois . They attribute their success to their improved communication between each other in the boat. "We have adapted to each other in the boat so today when things weren't going right, we both started making the same changes at the same time," shared Bill Sutton. "You have to work well together because if you don't, you are not going to have success." Vojak added this about why they were so successful this season in the Central Division, "Our pre-fishing was outstanding this year. We worked with teammates to find spots that were holding fish and other spots that could be eliminated for the weekend. We were a little worried about the two river tournaments as big waters suit our style of fishing, but we started the year out strong and just kept our focus." Sutton added, "Winning this award means a lot to us. The competition doesn't get any better than on the MWC and it is a real honor because I know the anglers on this circuit are exceptional."

Sutton and Vojak's 2nd place finish in the tournament also earned them $6,100 plus $100 from Farm and City Insurance Services for being on Team FCIS. Their total for the weekend amounted to $9,380.

John Balla of Bartlett , IL and Heath Bohman of Wisconsin Rapids, WI took 3rd place with 43.96 pounds for $4,100.

Brad Engebretson of Rochester , MN and Brian Sularz of Maple Grove , MN took 4th place with 43.53 pounds for $3,540 plus a $100 bonus from the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA). They also took 2nd place in Central Division points giving them an additional $428 for a total of $4,068.

Dennis Lantzy of Warren , MI and Steve Vande Mark of Linwood , MI took 5th place with 42.98 pounds, good for $3,240.

Leroy Schroeder of Larsen, WI and Jeff Roberts of New London, WI took 6th place for $2,600 plus won the $500 bonus from Lowrance Electronics for running the new Lowrance HDS (High Definition System) sonar/chartplotter displays for a total of $3,100.

Kevin Dahl and Steve Stack of Muskego , WI took 7th place for $2,400 plus $500 from Mercury Motors for being the top finishing team in the Ranger Cup program with a Mercury motor and 3rd place in Central Division points earning them $428 for a total of $3,328.

Local father and son team, Dan Sislo of Medford , WI and Brian Sislo of Porterfield , WI earn big fish of the tournament honors with the 11.47 pound walleye that they brought in on Saturday. The rest of the big fish honors are below:


1st Place - Brian Sislo of Porterfield, WI & Dan Sislo of Medford, WI with 11.47 pounds worth $770

2nd Place - Terry Seidl of Appleton, WI & Keith Witthuhn of Seymour, WI with 9.10 pounds worth $460

3rd Place - Steve Meyer & Jason Vanlanen of Birnamwood , WI with 8.64 pounds worth $307


1st Place - Joe Knowles of Sherwood, WI & Gordon Rabetski of Neenah, WI with 9.96 pounds worth $770

2nd Place - Bill Schneider & Mike Blanck of Malone , WI with 9.91 pounds worth $460

3rd Place - Mike Lewis & Matt DeWitt of Seymour , WI with 9.64 pounds worth $307

The Central division paid out a total of $4,892 with $3,180 going to Sutton and Vojak and places 2nd - 5th each earning $428 a team. Places 2nd - 5th are as follows:

2nd:Brad Engebretson of Rochester , MN & Brian Sularz of Maple Grove , MN - 203 points

3rd: Kevin Dahl of Muskego , WI & Steve Stack of Muskego , WI - 200 points

4th: Dan Zwick of Wrightstown , WI & Tony Kobriger of Chilton , WI - 180 points

5th: Don Olson of Andover , MN & Randy Carroll of Oswego , IL - 177 points

Rounding the field of nine teams from the Central division to make the 2010 Championship include:

6th: Rob Crowe of South Elgin, IL & Jim Passo of St. Charles, IL - 176 points

7th: David Kolb of Ada , MI & Jim Preissner of Hastings , MN - 172 points

8th: Scott Aydelotte of Garner, IA & Tim Harms of Owatonna , MN - 166 points

8th: Maury Schmerbach of Dubuque , IA & Marty Berns of Dubuque , IA - 166 points

The Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit also had some additional honors to pass out as the Central division wrapped up for the year. The new Central Division Brothers Team of the Year went to Steve and Dan Bodinger of Chilton , WI with 146 points. The Father/Son Team of the Year award went to Steve 'Pinky' Sandor of Ottawa, IL and Adam Sandor of Tonica , IL with 140 points. They took home their first victory ever on the MWC with a win on their home waters at Spring Valley . The Husband/Wife Team of the Year honors went to Cliff and Leslie Banks of Spring Valley , IL . Each team received beautiful new trophies.

The Marinette-Menominee Great Lakes Sport Fishermen (MMGLSF) co-hosted the tournament with the Marinette-Menominee Chamber of Commerce. The MMGLSF provided tournament support by assisting with launch and inspections in the morning and weigh-ins in the afternoon. "This is one of the best clubs we worked with all year," shared Tournament Director, Jeff Ahlstrand. "The anglers love coming to fish out of Marinette and Menominee because of the terrific job this club does." President of the MMGLSF, John Krueger expressed this about the MWC coming to town, "We love having you guys come here. This is the third time in five years that you have been to our town and each year it gets better. The community really likes coming out to watch the weigh-ins and really gets behind it."

Three qualifying tournaments remain on the 2009 schedule, plus an invitation-only Championship at the end of the year. Here are the remaining events for 2009:

Cabela's MWC 2009 Tournaments

July 25/26 - * Devils Lake , North Dakota ( Devils Lake )

August 21/22/23 - Dunkirk , New York ( Eastern Lake Erie )

September 12/13 - Webster , South Dakota ( Waubay Lake )

World Walleye Championship - by invitation only

October 8/9/10 - Dundee , Michigan ( Lake Erie & Detroit River )

*The Devils Lake tournament will be run in conjunction with the Cabela's NTC.

Cabela's, the world's foremost outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is entering their eighth season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Ranger Boats, Mercury, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Versus (Vs.) Television Network and North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Farm & City Insurance Services, O2 Marine Technologies, 3-IN-ONE No Rust Shield, Fin-tech, Ryjus and Reflections.

The Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit is the longest running professional walleye tournament circuit in the United States and is celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2009. This season there are three qualifying tournaments in each division (Central, East & West) and the World Walleye Championship. For more information on the Cabela's MWC or to view the 2009 schedule, visit: Questions - email: or call: 877-893-7947.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 13, 2009 6:12 AM.

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