Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 11, 2022
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Winnebago Awaits AIM Championship;
What’s Working For That Late Summer Bite?
The 2022 AIM Weekend Walleye Series Garmin/Navionics State Championship opens Friday, Aug. 12, on Lake Winnebago, where teams will have to deal with that tricky ‘bago late summer bite: do you run the mud, drift over the reefs, or mosey to the upper lakes near where the second state qualifier took place in April, and where some nice fish are still being found?
“Those decisions and more will tell the tale of who wins here, and also who goes home with that Yamaha Wisconsin Team Of The Year notch in their belts, and that T9.9 Yamaha four-stroke kicker,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “This is the state championship, so what do you do? Swing away for the fence or practice patience? We’ve contacted some teams who were at ‘batting practice’ on the lake, and so far, they’re reporting lots of fish caught, and that Winnebago’s algae bloom is lighter than usual for August. Now to concentrate on those right five, and above all, just have fun out there.”
Matt Snell, from Oshkosh, where teams will depart Friday and Saturday, is teamed with Tyler Semenas of Rosendale in their Mercury 250 Verado-powered boat. Snell’s reported caching a lot of fish when he’s been out lately, but mostly not the ones that will win.
“I think it’s been pretty tough. We’re catching decent numbers. A lot of smaller fish, 13, 14, 15-inchers, but not many over 18 so far,” Snell reported. That famous Winnebago late-summer algae is building, but the wind is helping scatter the bloom. He’s hoping it’ll also do something about floating weeds.
“The floating weeds have been difficult to deal with if you try and troll,” he said, but that won’t bother them too much, as they’re both trollers and casters.
“We both pull jigs and cast. But I think it’s going to be the troll bite that probably wins it. It has been difficult to pick up fish. I think it’s going to be the main lake that’s going to be the key, the center or the east shore.
“There may be a few teams going into the river. I’ve spent some time in the upper lakes (he’s talking about Lake Butte des Morts). It’s where I’m fishing today (Wednesday),” he said. Snell is predicting that since some local one-day tournaments were won with 10 pounds, the daily totals will be lower than during the last couple of tournaments.
“I think if you can pull 13 or 14 pounds a day, you’re going to do really well. It feels like the fish are kinda full from summer. You can find’em, but getting them to go has not been the easy part.”
That daily weight for five fish may be right on the money, agreed Stephen Pocian of Mayville who’ll be on the water in a Mercury 400 Verado-powered boat with his father Tom, of Kewaskum. They’ve been fishing tournaments since he was 12, and he was on Winnebago at midweek. He’s finding the same thing as Snell. Fish are everywhere but finding the right ones is a different story.
“The August bite can be tough at times here. There’s a lot of weeds north. A lot of floating weeds on the northwest end,” Pocian said. And fish are averaging 17 to 19 inches. “They’re not that hot and heavy, but they’re coming,” he said. He’s looking at least some teams heading to the lake’s muddy center.
“There are some fish out there but I’m assuming a lot will be drifting the reefs (north of the Fox River’s mouth at Oshkosh), and in the upper lakes, there’s still good fish. People have been getting on them,” he said.
“We’re predominately trollers, but it’s looking like we might have to change that up. If so, we might have to go jigging the reefs to get a full card, and then go out to the mud. It all depends on how fishing goes tomorrow (Thursday). There may be a change to run to the upper lakes,” he said.
“I’m thinking that if you can get about 14 pounds each day, you’ll definitely be cashing a check. There’s going to be always one team who’ll get 20 pounds in one day, but it’s a different story to do it two days.”
One team that appears to be happy is that headed by Joe Schneider of Van Dyne. He and Brian Daun of Stockbridge will be running all Garmin aboard their Mercury 400 Verado. Schneider says he’s looking at up to 38 pounds to take this two-day fish fest.
He’s sounding like he’s wearing a smile. “The fishing is actually pretty good for this time of year. Normally, it’s pretty slow, so it’s not the normal year that we’re used to, so that’s a good thing for us,” said Schneider, who lives a short walk from Winnebago. That give you a hint that something’s up? Yup. Well here’s another.
“We feel pretty good about this weekend. Finding the giants is always a mystery,” he said slyly. “We’ll probably do a little trolling and a little jigging. We’ll be in the river, and all over. We’ll keep knocking down doors until we find’em,” he said.
Will that always popular U.S. 41 bridge, where deeper holes often hold fish, come into play? Not likely, he said. That area, he said, needs current for fish to set up.
“There hasn’t been a lot of rain, so there hasn’t been a lot of current in the river. So, if there’s no current, a lot of times we’ll just turn right back around. But I promise you, we’ll probably have about 30 rods in the boat, and between jigging and trolling, we’ll be doing everything. You may even see us whip out the slip bobber rods if the wind is right,” he said. And he agrees that the algae hasn’t been much of an issue yet.
“There’s been years here when you have a fish on and you can’t see what it is until it breaks the surface, so it’s not your typical pea soup Winnebago this time of year,” Schneider said.
So, as usual, some teams have gotten into’em. But will the fish stay put, or follow the food, and will the others figure it out, too? It’ll be all answered Starting Friday morning as we start the beginning of the end of another great AIM Wisconsin Division season.
Do not count any team out. A lot are still in contention in Wisconsin, so as we said in our explanation of AIM’s points system this week, this ain’t over until it’s over, because a stumble here or there could change everything this Saturday evening.
Here’s your run of show for both Friday and Saturday. Rules and registration will be online this evening, Thursday, at 7 p.m. Boat inspection begins at Menominee Park in Oshkosh at 5:30 a.m. Following opening ceremonies, the first flight of boats will leave at 7 a.m., with the second 15 minutes later. Boats will be due back at Menominee Park starting at 3 p.m. Standings will be announced Friday online only at or very near 6 p.m., and final awards will take place Saturday, starting at or very near 5 p.m. Good luck to all teams!
You know you want to. You know you can.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™) is a unique tournament organization created and owned by many of the most accomplished and recognizable professional walleye anglers, along with others who share the mission of advancing competitive walleye fishing and making it sustainable into the future.
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AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats inc.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Marinette, WI, Explore Alexandria, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, The Outdoor Authority on Upper Red Lake MN