Ohioans dominate National Walleye Tour season opener on Erie

Mike Defibaugh (right) with a pair of nice walleyes that helped him jump from 22nd place to the title in the Cabela's National Walleye Tour season-opening event on Lake Erie. (National Walleye Tour photo)

There probably isn’t much of a home-field advantage on the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour — most of these guys are at home on any walleye fishery.

But these anglers also fish close to home when they are home. So it’s probably no surprise that Ohio anglers dominated the NWT’s season-opening event at Huron, Ohio, on Lake Erie, last week.

Mike Defibaugh of Bellefontaine, Ohio, took advantage of a strong second day to jump from 22nd place and win the pro angler category. He won $15,000 and a fully-rigged boat/motor valued at about $46,000 for a total of $61,000 in winnings. He donated the $15,000 to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter.

In a tournament where anglers struggled to find a five-fish limit, Defibaugh’s catch totaled 64.65 pounds, besting runner-up and fellow Ohio pro Ryan Buddie of North Ridgeville by 2.04 pounds. Buddie was also second after Day 1.

Korey Sprengel of Beaver Dam, Wis., was third, followed by another Ohioan, Mike Robertson of Laura, in fourth.

Mike Mochan, another North Ridgeville angler, took first place in the co-angler category with 69.95 pounds to win $7,492. Mochan fished with pros Scott Cisewski and Eric Olson. On day one, Mochan and Cisewski totaled 31.99 pounds. With Olson on day 2, Mochan caught five walleyes weighing 37.96 pounds.

“It was an awesome week,” Mochan told the NWT. “I won at home and that doesn’t happen often. I’m so amped up. I can’t believe it.”

The next stop for the NWT is May 11-12 on Lake Sakakawea near Garrison, N.D.

— Reports by Cabela’s National Walleye Tour contributed to this report

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