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Gazette Staff

RED WING, Minn. - Montana walleye fisherman Darrell Archey, of Great Falls, captured the co-angler crown and $120,000 at the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship on the Mississippi River at Red Wing, Minn., on Friday.

Archey, a 46-year-old UPS driver, fished with pro Scott Allar, of Welch, Minn., who advanced as one of the top six pro finishers to the pro finals of the event on Saturday.

Archey had fished two qualifying tournaments earlier in the year before Friday's big payday, when he teamed with Allar to catch 15 pounds. That was the top weight in the field of 12 teams which survived the cut.

And what's he going to do with it? "I'm going to have to buy a new boat," says Archey. "I've got a good excuse now."

Archey parlayed his own fishing abilities from home waters on Fort Peck Reservoir to contribute to Allar's big third-day catch. "I caught the big fish, (which was) the first fish, and it got the monkey out of the boat right off the bat," Archey said.

In addition to six figures, Archey has also gained considerable knowledge that, in the end, he says will cut down on tackle expenditures and the frustration of learning more about fishing on his own.

"The pros can save you a lot of money," Archey says. "A guy can go out and buy and try stuff, and pretty soon it's all sitting at home in a box because it didn't work. I'm going to fine-tune what I'm buying. Now I don't have to buy 15 things to find out if it's going to work."

Missoula co-angler Rob Jimenez also finished strong at the RCL Championship. Jiminez made the cut to be in the elite field of 12 for Friday's fishing.

Jiminez wound up in fifth place to claim $5,400. He partnered with Steve Lamb, of Nashville, Tenn., Friday and turned in four walleyes weighing 4.69 pounds.

In the competition, a co-angler fishes with a different pro each day of the tournament. RCL stands for Ranger, Crestliner and Lund - the boat companies that help sponsor the RCL tour. In the RCL Championship, a total of 220 pros and 220 co-anglers fished Wednesday and Thursday on the Mississippi River.

The field was cut to the top 12 pros who were paired with the top 12 co-anglers for Friday's fishing.

On Saturday, just the top six pros fished. The winning pro could win up to $400,000.