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Shannon Kehl

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I regularly read the Bismarck Tribune online to keep up with what's happening back home and was surprised to see this today.

Pro walleye angler mourned

By Richard Hinton

Professional walleye angler Shannon Kehl was remembered as a great competitor, good friend and one of the best fishermen to come out of the Bismarck area Monday.

Kehl, 39, of Menoken, was killed in a one-vehicle accident early Sunday morning just west of Menoken.

"The thing I remember is that he always was in a good mood. He was always happy when he was fishing. He loved to fish, whether it was a big tournament, the Governor’s Cup or fishing with his buddies," said Sheldon Meidinger, a fellow pro angler who hails from Bismarck. "He had a competitive spirit and was one of the best fishermen to come out of Bismarck."

With the Professional Walleye Trail holding a tournament at Bull Shoals, Ark., this week, many touring pros already were in Arkansas.

"We found out yesterday morning. We’ve all been shocked and stunned. It’s a really sad deal," said pro fisherman Ron Seelhoff, of Burlington, Colo., who is pre-fishing at Bull Shoals. “I’ve stayed at his house. He’s a good friend, and I’m going to miss him.”

Services are tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at McCabe Methodist Church with the Rev. Art Scanson officiating.

Seelhoff and Mina, S.D., angler Rick Olson were among Kehl’s closest friends on the professional walleye tours, Seelhoff said. “We’ve been friends since ’94 or ’95.” he said. They also traveled to tournaments together and roomed together.

Olson’s first reaction when the heard the news was disbelief.

"You know that kind of stuff is going to happen, but you don’t think it’s going to," Olson said from Bull Shoals, where he is pre-fishing ahead of the tournament. “He was truly a good guy. One of the things I liked about him was that he told you what was on his mind.”

Kehl got off to a hot start on the Professional Walleye Trail tour, finishing with PWT Rookie of the Year and Angler of the Year honors in 1996. He finished in 27th place in Bismarck’s latest PWT Championship, held in 2006.

"When you have a small fraternity of people like we do in the pro fishing ranks, it’s sad to lose one of the members, one of the friends, one of the fellow competitors, especially a guy like Shannon. He’s the only pro to win PWT rookie and angler of the year in one season, a feat that may stand forever," said PWT executive director Jim Kalkofen, who also is in Bull Shoals.

Kehl wasn’t scheduled to compete in Bull Shoals tournament that starts Wednesday. “It was a subdued crowd yesterday once we found out,” Kalkofen added.

Kehl also fishes the FLW Walleye Tour, where his best year was 2005 when his earnings exceeded $60,000.

The accident happened about 3 a.m. Sunday, the state Highway Patrol reported. Kehl’s pickup went off the road and struck an approach, then vaulted and struck an approach and culvert, the patrol said in a statement.

The vehicle came to rest on the driver’s side with Kehl, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, partially thrown. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the patrol reported. The accident was reported by a BNSF Railways crew about 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

"He left me a phone call Saturday night. I don’t know what he wanted. I miss him. It’s a tough deal, and it makes you realize how short life is," said Seelhoff.

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My most heartfelt condolences to his family.

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R.I.P. he can fish all he wants now...

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