2018-06-07 / Outdoors

Walleye bite picks up in time for Lake Leelanau tourney

By Grant McPherson
Of The Enterprise staff


DAVE LITTLE (middle, green shirt) places his walleye in the container to be officially weighed Saturday at the Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. DAVE LITTLE (middle, green shirt) places his walleye in the container to be officially weighed Saturday at the Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. Seventeen boats competed Saturday in the 2018 Barrels & Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament.

Top among them was the team of Tim O’Neill and Matt Mahar, which finished first with a five-fish weight of 11.87 pounds. O’Neill and Mahar walked away with the $700 top prize and $150 for the Barrels Beast Award, which is awarded to the team catching the biggest walleye. The duo’s top walleye weighed 3.55 pounds.

“Lake Leelanau is an awesome fishery,” said tournament organizer Mike McSweeney. “It is rare to have two connected bodies of water be so different from one another. The south end is shallower with more weeds. There are more fish in the south end and you can catch them using a variety of methods. The north end is a completely different lake. It is very clear, deep, has steep banks and an overall lack of weeds. There are not as many walleye up there, but the fish that are there typically are a lot larger.”


AL FIREK holds up his dogfish that he caught Saturday during the 2018 Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. AL FIREK holds up his dogfish that he caught Saturday during the 2018 Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. The team of Chris Donaghy and Dave Little finished second with a five-fish catch weighing 9.75 pounds, which was good enough for a $375 prize.

The team of Greg Alsip and Justin Maleski finished third after a five-fish catch weighing 8.2 pounds. The team took home $200 for the effort.

Al Firek captured the all-species title, boating a 7.46-pound dogfish.

“It fought me the entire way,” said Firek, who added that he caught about 30 fish throughout the tournament. “Dogfish have really broad shoulders and can really fight with you.”


TIM O’NEILL and Matt Mahar show off their first place walleye Saturday after the Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. The five walleye came in weighing 11.87 lbs. TIM O’NEILL and Matt Mahar show off their first place walleye Saturday after the Barrels and Barrels Lake Leelanau Walleye Tournament. The five walleye came in weighing 11.87 lbs. Alsip said walleye seem to be biting more regularly now with the weather finally getting warm and staying warm.

“With the winter cutting into some of spring, it was hard to get that many fish,” Alsip said. “They really started to bite in this tournament, though.”

Alsip also mentioned how the northern part of the south basin seems to offer fewer bites then the southern part.

“It’s been a weird summer, with all the weather we’ve had,”Alsip said. “Saturday was still pretty good for everyone.”

Gabe’s Country Market made sure of it, donating 100 hot dogs for anglers to eat after the competition.

The fishing was sponsored by Barrels & Barrels of Suttons Bay.


CHRIS DONAGHY and Dave Little pose Saturday with their catch after the tournament. Their five walleye came in at 9.75 lbs. CHRIS DONAGHY and Dave Little pose Saturday with their catch after the tournament. Their five walleye came in at 9.75 lbs. “Overall, the tournament was a great success,” McSweeney said.



JUSTIN MALESKI and Greg Alsip show their walleye Saturday after the tournament. The walleye came in at 8.2 lbs. JUSTIN MALESKI and Greg Alsip show their walleye Saturday after the tournament. The walleye came in at 8.2 lbs.

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