Mercury angler James Winters Takes Day 1 Lead at NWT on Lake Erie

Nitti in Second and Hoyer in Third

Port Clinton, Oh. (April 18th, 2024) Day One of the 2024 Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) presented by Progressive being held on Lake Erie out of Port Clinton, OH is complete and the leader is Mercury angler James Winters with 40.11!

The Ohio angler, James Winters reported that he was making a long run to an area he had found on Sunday during practice. Knowing the quality lived there he felt it was worth the run to kick off the 2024 National Walleye Tour season.

“I knew I could get there and get the fish I need within an hour, so with the different weather coming in tomorrow I’m going to make the same run and I am going to focus on getting down there and making sure I can get back,” said Ohio native, Winters. “The key for me tomorrow is going to be getting there, not leaving, seeing where the fish might have shifted to, and sealing the deal.”


Rapala Pro-Angler Hunter Nitti in Second with 38.08

Ranger/ Mercury angler Hunter Nikki from Rosemount, MN ends Day 1 less than three pounds out of the lead after weighing in with 38.08 pounds. Dustin reported having a slow start to the morning, not fishing clean, but once he and his co-angler got a rhythm going, putting fish in the boat came easy throwing a new Rapala ‘Crush City’ swimbait.

“I have found one of the most magical groups of fish I’ve ever seen in an NWT tournament,” said the Ranger Pro. “I do have to work my way through a lot of smaller fish, but the quality I weighed-in today is there and there are plenty of them.” But Hunter reported today that he should have had a bag closer to what is leading the tournament if a few more important fish had not come off. “Tomorrow could end up being a special day. I don’t believe the weather, or anything else in this world could affect the fish I am on, and honestly wish we could just launch right now and get back out there.”

Hunter is coming off a 2023 NWT season where he barely missed the cut to qualify for the 2023 NWT Championship, so having the momentum this early in the early is likely to boost him mentally for starting the season strong.

Third Place belongs to Ranger/ Mercury Pro-Angler John Hoyer

The 2023 NWT Championship Champion & 2023 Progressive Angler of the year, Ranger/ Mercury Pro-Angler John Hoyer continues his recent hot streak by weighing in a five fish limit of 34.12. His day one weight leaves one of the hottest names in professional walleye sitting in third place after Day-1 of the  event.

“Man…. I really cannot put into words what is going on. But I will tell you today I was just super relaxed, and as much as I would like to be in a Turkey blind, everything just clicked for me today and it’s good to be back out here for another season on the NWT.”

The three-time NWT champion said that he feels tomorrow could be a little more challenging, but the area he is in has no shortage of keeper Lake Erie walleye in it.

The Rest of the Top-Ten After Day 1 on Lake Erie:

4.) Duane Phillips     Carrollton, OH          34.06

5.) Ryan Buddie        Amherst, OH             34.04

6.) Josh Lund             Elk River, MN            33.04

7.) Dylan Nussbaum St. Mary’s, PA           33.00

8.) Eric McQuoid       Kewaunee, WI          32.11

9.) Will Pappenfus   Shelvin, MN             32.09

10.) Max Wilson       Campbellsport, WI   32.07

Day 1 Pro-Angler results can be found here.

Day-1 leading Co-Angler is Grant Smith with 40.11

Full Co-Angler results from Day 1 are here.

A special ‘Thank You’ to the City of Port Clinton for the great hospitality toward the NWT throughout the entire week and weekend!

Additional information on the events, contingency prizes, and more exciting announcements will be shared soon. For more information on updated angler qualifications, please visit

About National Walleye Tour

National Walleye Tour (NWT) is part of the Outdoor Team Works family of fishing tournaments. The OTW brand offers a wide range of fishing events from professional tournaments to grassroots fishing derbies. All events are supported by some of the top companies in the nation and include on-site activation and activities, as well as extensive media support. For live updates and information, follow NWT on Facebook and Instagram or visit to catch up on all the action.

2024 Proud Sponsors

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Progressive, Nitro Boats, Ranger Boats, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Aftco, Garmin, Power-Pole, TH Marine, Sunline, Gamakatsu, TrollMasterPanther MarineGemini G2