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Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Baitfish Bonanza: Finding Hungry ‘eyes May Be Key To Winning Sunday’s AWWS Nitro Boats Open On Lake Winnie

With post-spawn walleye on the move in Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago system stuffing themselves with yummy river shad, it may be that the team finding five of the lake’s or river’s hungrier fish will be topping the 100-boat field for Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Nitro Boats Open.

Then again, with a chance of rain in the forecast and winds prior to Sunday looking like they’ll coming from every which way, it may be that the team finding the right water temps and conditions will get the job done.

One or the other, or some combination, will be what seals the deal Sunday, according to two entrants who will gun out of Oshkosh’s Menominee Park Sunday morning.

They’ll be running to find fish in the big lake, the Fox River, the lakes near Winneconne, and even the upper Wolf River. There are no boundaries on this one.

“I think they’re all in pretty decent shape,” said AIM newcomer Mike Kasper of Neenah, on Lake Winnie’s northwest shore. He and Reid Raschke, Appleton, currently stand fifth in the Wisconsin Division Team of the Year standings.

“It’s supposed to be a high of 84 Sunday. The fish are definitely coming back to the lake, and the bite has increased. You’ll have 100 boats out there that will be using different techniques. All three lakes in the river also will be in play,” Kasper said.

He means Butte Des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, upstream from the launch site. But the biggest story, he said, may be the baitfish. There’s a lot.

“There’s a lot of shad and a lot of Trout perch minnows. If you clean fish, they’re just full. So the story will be trying to find the fish and make them bite. And it will be also who will be able to find those elusive females,” he added.

Lake Winnebago itself is relatively clear and water temperatures are coming up, Kasper said. That also may mean mayfly hatches, further adding to the walleye feedbag. “It could well happen right around the tournament so that could change things and potentially put fish into a feeding frenzy.”

There, he said, lies the other variable. Do you troll cranks, those unique Fox River fly rigs, crawlers, plastics, pitch jigs, or drift the river?

“I think it’s going to be the one who will figure out something out of the norm that will catch the right fish. I think you can fish these any way you want. The other thing is, where are they?” he asked.

“The river is still loaded with fish. They have no immediate need to come back to the lake. The river is loaded with feed. You can drive into the shallows and see the balls of minnows. It looks like someone’s left an ice shanty on the bottom, but it’s just a school of shad.  The shad have not died off like they usually do. The big female walleye have gone into the lake, but there’s a lot of nice males there. It will be a bit tougher bite, but it will bring out the best in all of us.”

This is Kasper’s first full season with AIM’s Wisconsin Division and he’s lovin’ it. “We’ve done well the last two tournaments, but it’s been a grind. We basically were not doing well, then in the last 90 minutes of each we managed to put together a miracle,” finishing 15th at Green Bay and 5th at Winneconne.

Jeff Rahmer, of St. Cloud, WI, who fishes with 9-year-old son Adam, also is looking at that warming water improving the lakes, but he’s also looking at the forecast, which calls for a chance of showers on game day.

“Combined with strong winds, and predictions show we won’t have winds under 10 mph up to the tournament from many directions. So we may see good water one day and terrible clarity the next,” Rahmer said. He also agrees that the shad throw another wrinkle into figuring out Sunday.

“The river is loaded with shad, so we’re hoping they’re hungry at the times we want to fish them. I would expect to see a lot of cards in the six- to nine-pound range. The guys who come out on top or win will be able to come across one or two big fish. I’m anticipating 12 to 15 pounds may win it,” he said. A lot of nice fish are being caught on Lake Winnie in the evening, but that’s not when the tournament is. Pulling flies in the river has also been productive, he added.

And, with a full field, he’s expecting more than a few local teams to do well. “There are a lot of good sticks on Winnebago who’ve been through all this abundance of feed in late spring before, and they understand the system so well,” Rahmer said.

“Two weeks ago we did well on a tournament fishing north on the river and there are still reports of guys catching fish coming down. So if you can find a pod of fish that are active you could do well. The upriver system doesn’t have much feed so if you do go and find fish, they’ll be hungry fish,” he said.

Teams will meet at 5 p.m. Saturday for registration at Woodeye’s Bar and Grill in Winneconne. They’ll get on the water at 5:30 a.m. from Menominee Park Launch in Oshkosh, and will leave in two waves starting at 7. All teams are due back at the launch starting at 3 p.m., and the awards will take place starting at 5 p.m.

Follow all the action at AIM’s Facebook page and at ProChattrr.

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. AIM is committed to marketing excellence on behalf of its tournament competitors, the tournament host communities, and the brands that partner with it. AIM is also committed to maintaining healthy fisheries across the nation by the development of the exclusive AIM Catch-Record-Release™ format, which is integral to its dynamic events and unparalleled consumer engagement. For more information about AIM™, AIM Pro Walleye Series™, AIM Weekend Walleye Series, AIM sponsors and AIM anglers, visit

AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats,Inc.

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Navionics, Garmin, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, National Fleet Graphics, Gemini Sport Marketing, Warrior Boat Center.

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