Great Lakes Angler Blog

Husband/Wife Team wins New York Walleye Tournament

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
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DUNKIRK, NY – A  fishing team made up of two couples won the AMARA-CAN  Walleye Classic, one of the bigger tournaments on Lake Erie, this past weekend.  The event was hosted by the New York Walleye Association.  Team Innovative Outdoors consists of Jim and Kim Skoczylas, of Sheldon, New York and Jim and Diane Steel, of Alexander, New York. The tournament took place on Lake Erie and ran out of the City of Dunkirk harbor on July 7 and 8.

The team began fishing on Thursday with Jim and Diane's daughters, Katie & Ashley Stanley on Thursday to prepare for the upcoming tournament.  On Thursday, Ashley, 10 years old, brought in a 10 lb walleye. The team fished again on Friday and caught 13 fish.  Whenthe tournament began Saturday, Team Innovative Outdoors was in Group B.  This group was allowed to fish from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..  Each team is allowed to weigh in a maximum of five fish per day with a minimum length of 20 inches each. Their total weight for Saturday was 42.58 pounds,  enough weight tolead the 82-boat field.  Most of their fish were caught using lead core line and Torpedo Divers on worm harnesses, some of which they make themselves. Sunday morning, Group B departed at 7 and had to be back in to weigh at 2pm. The team was excited and nervous going into day two knowing that in a lot of years, the leader on the first day doesn't actually win the tournament.  The team stuck to their same program and same location as the days before.  They ran out East of Dunkirk and were fishing in about 80 feet of water.  The day became even more stressful when they had not caught any fish in the first two hours.  The tension on the boat was definitely higher.  Thankfully the bite turned on and the team caught some nice fish.  The team weighed in another 5 fish for a 2nd day total of 37.72.  Their two day total for 10 fish was 80.30 lbs.  They were unsure if this would be enough to win the tournament. After the teams from Group B weighed in they were still in the lead but still very nervous.  They team kept their fingers crossed and waited for Group A to arrive back at the docks and weigh in a hour after them.  They not so patiently waited for the official results.  The team was ecstatic when they learned they had just enough to take 1st place and $2,350 in prize money.  The team was presented with the trophy and prize money by the City of Dunkirk mayor. This was the team's (and team members) very first tournament win.  The 2nd place team had 79.96 lbs. There were cash payouts for the top 10 teams as well as the biggest fish of each day.  The Wavetamer team lead by Captain Don Ruppert weighted in the biggest fish on Saturday at 10.38 lbs.  On Sunday, Jeremiah Crowe weighed in the biggest fish of the tournament to take the prize.

Jim and Jim are the founders of Innovative Outdoors, a local hunting and fishing supply company they recently started a few months ago.  They are focused on bringing the latest and greatest hunting and fishing products to the WNY area.  They are currently endorsing and selling a full line of Torpedo Products and Traxstech Fishing Systems.  Torpedo Products consist of Torpedo Divers, a full line of snap swivels, trolling wire and roller tips.  Torpedo Products are designed to maximize your fishing experience.  They promise to be innovative and provide real fishing solutions.  Traxstech has a full line of tracks, rod holders and downrigger mounts.  Just this year they revealed their new high-tech downrigger.  Traxstech are focused on outfitting boats to gain maximum effectiveness to fish better.  Having a well laid out boat allows your fishing equipment to improve your technique and presentation.  For more information about these products or Innovative Outdoors, contact them at

In the past five years, Jim and Jim have rapidly advanced their fishing to a new level.  They were fishing mostly for fun in small open boats.  Last year Jim & Jim decided to take their fishing passion one step further and get their U.S. Coast Guard Masters Captain's Licenses so they could take others out fishing too.  Since then they have purchased bigger boats and started the process to take their passion from fun to a part-time business.  They also began concentrating on more tournament fishing as well.  Jim Skoczylas, owner of Ultimate Adventures Sportfishing, captains a 26' Baha.   Jim Steel, owner  of Dream Catcher Sportfishing  captains a 23' Grady White.  For more charter information, you can contact Jim & Jim at the email address for Innovative Outdoors above.

Innovative Outdoors is very proud of this accomplishment.  It took great teamwork to get where they are.  Jim and Jim are seasoned fishermen of multiple species and have been fishing for many years. A few years ago their wives began fishing with them.  Even though Jim and Jim had fished this tournament for years, just last year the two couples fished this tournament together for the first time.  In a predominately male sport, it is exciting to see more women getting involved.  The second place team after day one was also made up of two couples, Chuck, Ruth, Chuck and Casey Mohr of Team Lake Affect.  They hope to inspire more women, more couples and more families to spend their time together out fishing too.

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