Winnebago System May Be One Big Question Mark For Full Field Sunday At AIM Nitro Boats Open Qualifier
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2019
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Winnebago System May Be One Big Question Mark For
Full Field Sunday At AIM Nitro Boats Open Qualifier
The 100-boat field competing on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago system will be on the hunt for those winning five fish and that $8,000 first place cash Sunday for the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Nitro Boats Open. But the question on everyone’s minds will be, with the weather the Midwest’s unseasonably cool temps, to rain by the multi-inch, where will the walleye be on this first full weekend of what’s supposed to be summer?
“Instead of warm, we’ve had cool. Instead of dry, nearly nonstop wet, with record rain in some areas,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “The current forecast for this, the final Wisconsin state qualifier, is rain showers Friday and Saturday, and the fish forecast is scattered and variable, so far. It’s up to the 100-boat field to find’em, and somebody will. But it will take knowledge, patience and that common thread, consistency, to bring in a winning bag.”
Jim Moser of Merrill, won it all last year fishing Winnebago’s flats, boating 20-plus pounds in early July. But that was then, this is now, and he hasn’t been on the lake since spring. Here’s his report when he got off the water Wednesday in his 175 Merc four-stroke-powered boat. So far, so good.
“We had a little bit of a cold front that went through and I really thought it would shut the fish down, but it didn’t. We had some nice walleyes, and I even caught a sauger. And, a lot of sheepshead,” Moser laughed. The key was, he said, switching to crawlers.
“I was using crankbaits today but I didn’t get anything on them, so I switched over to crawler harnesses,” he said But the funny thing about it was, that with the cold front and the air and water not warm, he figured fish would be up higher. Not so. They were bottom huggers.
“I was fishing 17 or 18 ft of water, and we were catching fish right on the bottom. Normally this time of year, they’re still looking for warm water and usually the surface is warmer. When you usually get into deep water, the temperature there is 40 to 45 degrees, but that’s where all the fish were,” he said.
Moser said that if the pattern holds, it should be a good bite, but if the predicted rain returns Saturday and Sunday, those fish may change location.
“When I won last year I fished where I had never fished,” but Wednesday, he couldn’t get to that spot due to three- to four-footers. And, if those weekend storms blow up, he’s expecting walleye to come higher up to find warmth.
Water conditions, he said, are pretty dirty, not green, but brownish. “Maybe that’s why they’re hanging tight on the bottom,” he added.
Another confirmed ‘bago boy,’ Chad Burns of Oshkosh, said he may be running his Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat throughout the system Sunday. He’s reporting that the lake is greening up with algae. He’s been on Winnebago a lot, and is feeling that the $8,000 first prize can be had anywhere in the system, meaning from 85 miles up the Wolf at Shawano, to ‘bago’s mud flats.
He just finished the local “Battle On Bago” fundraiser tourney, an 11-day event, and even after all that fishing and pre-fishing, he’s saying the lake is one big question mark where and how this thing will be won.
The winner, Burns said, probably will be the one who pinpoints where the 20-inch-plus fish are hitting, and hopes they’re still there come tournament day.
“I’ve fished out there 11 days in a row and we caught fish everywhere. It was just a matter of locating where the big ones are. It’s been a tough year for weather. We’ve just not had stable weather. They’re calling for a chance of thunderstorms, so more of the same. The pattern so far has been no pattern,” Burns said.
“One day you’re getting them in the mud. The next in the weeds. The next, none of those work. The bite has been really inconsistent. One day, one color, the next day, the same color doesn’t go. A weekend ago when we had four or five nice days, things were starting to pattern out and bigger fish were going on the chew. I’m on this system 70 or 80 days a year since I live off of it, and I wish I could say the bite’s been phenomenal, and we’re going to pound’em, but it’s going to be work.
“I figure this system is at least two to four weeks behind. There are fish from the Wolf River to Winnebago and in between. I’ve caught fish on the upper lakes, the rivers, all over,” Burns added. “This time of the year, the fish should be staging up and they’re just not. From a week ago Saturday to this past Saturday, water temperature in the lake went from 74 to 61 degrees. That pretty much sums up how the bite has been.
“A 14-degree drop in June is just about unheard of. I’ve got 20 years of log books and I can’t find anything that shows that dramatic a drop,” he added.
Ok, now the good news, Burns said. “We’ve had some really good days in the last week and some really tough days. The good thing is we don’t have any major cold fronts coming. So this could be won anywhere from the Wolf River to Winnebago.”
We’ll see where Sunday. Now for the starting lineup of this leg of this weekend’s AIM two-state double-header, in Oshkosh, the other playing out on the Mississippi In Hager City. Team registration here starts at 5 p.m. at The Beehive, 6897 Hwy 76 in Neenah, with the 7 p.m. rules meeting immediately after.
Sunday, boat inspections start at 5:30 a.m. at Menominee Park, Millers Bay, in Oshkosh. The first flight of 50 boats leaves starting at 7 a.m., with the second flight at 7:15. Teams must be back at the dock starting at 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., respectively. The awards presentation begins at 5 p.m. at Menominee Park.
Follow what’s sure to be a close event Sunday via Garmin Fish & Hunt. That goes for the Hager City event, too. Visit our website for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register for all AIM events.
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