SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – This past weekend, a local fisherman took first place in the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour contest. In his career, Sammy Cappelli has placed or won first prize in more than 60 fishing tournaments. He spoke about his latest win.
Cappelli wasn’t quite born with a fishing rod in his hands… but close.
“My dad started me off fishing and hunting when I was probably six years old,” he said.
About 20 years ago, Cappelli started fishing professionally. He has bagged a national championship and won four boats and about $350,000 in prizes.
“I got started just fishing weekend tournaments. Then as I started winning, I started getting bigger and better boats,” he said.
This past weekend, Cappelli added another trophy to his long list of wins, but this latest win wasn’t without sacrifice on the chilly Illinois River.
“The conditions were really bad. It was blowing like 20, 30 miles an hour, gusted like 40. The temperatures on day two were like 11 degrees in the morning, and the wind chill was minus four. So your live wells were freezing, your pumps were freezing, your hands were freezing,” he said.
On day one of the two-day tournament, they came in 14th out of more than 100 teams. By day two, they brought in just under 12 pounds of walleye, enough to take home the title.
“The fish on the Illinois River aren’t like Lake Erie, where you’re catching 10-pound fish. They’re a lot smaller,” Cappelli said.
Cappelli plans on competing in more tournaments this year including on Lake Erie.