Ranger Boats said Ranger pro Robert Bruegger won the May 26-27 Cabela's National Walleye Tour event on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wis.
The angler's two-day total of 42.53 pounds netted a combined $87,235, including a fully rigged Ranger 620FS with a 250-hp Evinrude outboard.
In the last 10 years Bruegger has made a name for himself as a river fisherman. With the river packed with anglers, Bruegger decided to forgo the crowd and fish the lake both days instead.
"The river was our No. 2 spot," Bruegger said in a statement. "The lake produced well for me on day one, and that's where I started day two. I didn't want to go and fish with the crowd."
Thunderstorms slowed the bite considerably on the first day. Bruegger only netted five legal fish that day. In this no-cull tournament, NWT anglers can keep seven fish and weigh the top five. Bruegger's five-fish limit of 24.61 pounds gave him a 3.32-pound lead over the closest pro competitor.
"I just kept grinding. They were spread out," Bruegger said. "It was one here and one there. Overall, it was pretty slow."
The second day brought more stable weather, but eventually rain fell and set off an intense bite for Bruegger.
"At 8:30 that morning I got a 17-incher, which I put in the box," he said. "At 9:45, we caught a 16-incher, and that went in, too. Then the bite slowed. At about 11 a.m., I was preparing to run to the river when it just started pouring rain. All of a sudden, the bite turned on."
Bruegger went on to boat a 26-, 25-, and 18-incher for a second-day total of 17.92 pounds. His two-day total of 42.53 pounds bested the second place by 2.43 pounds.
By participating in Ranger Cup and Evinrude contingency programs the angler's first-place boat and motor package was upgraded to a Ranger 620FS with a 250-hp Evinrude outboard.
The angler credited sticking to his plan and his Ranger boat as the keys to his success on Lake Winnebago.
"For trolling, my Ranger sits in the water and tracks well," Bruegger said. "It's got great boat control for finer adjustments. Although we didn't run far in this event, a Ranger handles rough water better during longer runs."