There certainly has been A LOT of buzz regarding the festivities that are being planned in Oconto, WI.  The third tournament stop on the AIM Professional Walleye Series will be held on Green Bay from July 20-22, 2012.  Oconto is just north of the city of Green Bay.  During this time of year the fish are generally migrating to the north so Oconto will be a great place to launch this event.

AIM member Marianne Huskey has been working diligently with the community members of Oconto to promote the upcoming AIM tournament coming to the area.  To state that there are a few community-wide events being planned would be “putting it lightly”.  There are many, many, many events being planned. Almost everyone in town is getting involved in one way or another to make this the event of the season.

Hop in the Fun—FISH OCONTO!

The Pre-Tournament Experience:

The last time the Professional Walleye Series fished the bay of Green Bay was in 2010.  Almost every AIM record was broken, including the largest fish, the biggest basket and the total weight for an event up to that point.  With this said, huge weights can be expected again and so pre-fishing should be a blast.  Anglers usually arrive in a community about a week before the actual tournament begins.  This gives them time to get settled and possibly check out a few bait shops or talk to a few local anglers to find out what’s either been happening or what’s expected to happen out on the water.  Pre-fishing allows anglers the opportunity to get acquainted with the area and hopefully figure out a pattern they plan to use during their tournament fishing days.  With a community like Oconto, these AIM anglers are sure to be in for a treat.  The people from Oconto and the surrounding areas are very pleased and excited to have the AIM Professional Walleye Series coming to their town.  With all of the activities that are being planned Oconto will be an exciting place to be in July.

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Many of the local businesses throughout the city of Oconto will be putting on a scavenger hunt throughout the day.  Each business will have some sort of “fish item” on their menu.  Participants will visit each establishment and search for the “fish item”.  For example, a restaurant may have a “sardine sandwich” on their menu and once the participant finds it, they can check it off their list.

In the weeks prior to AIM coming to town, Oconto will be hosting a Miss Walleye Competition.  Marianne Huskey explained that any girl age 16 and older may compete for this prestigious title. Girls will need to have someone submit a letter to Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Hayes, recommending that they be crowned “Miss Walleye”.  The letter must explain why they feel this girl/woman is deserving of the title.  Perhaps the girl loves to fish and takes time to help others.  Kathy will read the entries and make the final decision on which lucky young lady will be the first to be crowned “Miss Walleye”.

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Registration:  All anglers are required to register at the Bond Community Center from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  At 5:00 p.m. there’s an orientation for the co-anglers and the Rules Meeting starts at 6:00 p.m.

This year and exclusively for the Oconto event, AIM is introducing an exciting format called The “Pro Team Challenge” Each boat will have three anglers instead of two. Anglers will sign up as two person teams (pro teams).  Each day the pro team will draw a different co-angler into their boat allowing for six rods instead of four.  How awesome is that!

Since the AIM Professional Walleye Series tournaments take place in many states, it’s important for anglers to know the local fishing regulations.  The state of Wisconsin has a no-cull regulation for tournament fishing.  That means that once a fish is placed into the live well, the fish can’t be upgraded.  AIM’s format of CRR will, once again, come to the rescue. As fish are caught, the fishermen simply take a photo, record it and the fish go right back into the water.  At the end of the tournament day, the seven longest fish that are recorded are converted to a weight to determine the team’s weight for the day.  Anglers love being able to fish and not worry about all of the regulations from state to state.  Being able to fish all day and tally up your top seven walleye….well it just doesn’t get any better than that!

The Tournament Begins and the Fun Continues:

Friday, July 20, 2012
Friday starts off the AIM Professional Walleye Series in Oconto as the anglers listen to the National Anthem at 7:15 a.m. while enjoying a cup of coffee (or a donut or two) provided by the city of Oconto.  Take off is at 7:30 a.m.  While the AIM anglers are out competing on the water, the city has planned a city-wide rummage sale for the tournament days.  This is a great way to get the townsfolk out and about, milling around for their own special trophies. Plus there are activities like minnow races and a “trout pond” set up at Breakwater Park for the kids.

The Oconto Fire Department will be bringing in their Fire Safety Trailer Simulator to Breakwater Park throughout the tournament days.  You will have the opportunity to experience a “firefighter’s ride” so you won’t want to miss that.  Yamaha will also be bringing in their “boat simulator” so make sure you try that out as well.  Experience the thrills and spills of driving a boat on a simulated body of water.

The weigh-in starts at 5:00PM. and the crowds will be in for quite an extra special treat.  Unlike some of the other professional fishing circuits, AIM anglers are able promote their boat manufacturer of choice, as well as motor companies, GPS units, and more. To give back a bit to all of these fantastic sponsors, every single boat company that the anglers represent, will be displayed at the site each weigh-in day. This will be an unbelievably impressive display. As the boats come off the water, boats from each company will be loaded onto their trailers and driven to the weigh-in staging area.  Everyone will be able to mingle around and see for themselves, these impressive “fishing machines.”

Representing each boat manufacturer for this event are boats belonging to:

Tracker/Nitro Boats:  Jim Carroll and Chase Parsons
Lund Boats:  Mark Braumbaugh and Scott Duncan
Warrior Boats:  Dave Anderson and Brett King
Ranger Boats:  Tommy Skarlis and Ross Grothe
Skeeter Boats:  Robert Blosser and Don Lot
Crestliner Boats:  Bruce Sampson
YarCraft Boats:  Joe Okada
Recon Boats:  Scott Allen

During the evening “The Hits” will be performing live entertainment at Breakwater Park; a TBA band will be at DJ’s Sports Bar and “Hot Shots” will be at The Garage.

Saturday, July 21, 2012
The day begins with the city wide rummage sale running throughout the day.  From 10:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. folks will be able to participate in the Mikel Witkopf Disc Golf Tournament held at Holtwood Park.  At 2:00 p.m. the first of two motorcycle groups that are raising money for their charities will be stopping at the Dockside Bar.  At 3:00 p.m. the second motorcycle group will be stopping at Dockside.

At 4:30 p.m., as the anglers come off of the water, 30 of the anglers’ boats will be participating in a boat parade. As mentioned earlier AIM member Marianne Huskey has been working diligently with members of the community to bring a ton of added excitement to this Oconto event. The Harbor Master will make sure the boats and tow vehicles are ready to travel from the landing to the weigh-in site.  AIM angler Brett King came up with a great idea to have 60 children from the Oconto area School District participate in the parade.  This will allow 2 children per boat to ride along and it will provide a pretty neat opportunity to draw crowds to the weigh-in stage.

Weigh-in starts at 5:00PM. and there will be food booths at the harbor to accommodate the crowds.  At dusk there will be a Venetian Boat Parade cruising along Breakwater Park and there will be live entertainment provided by Terry Murphy.

From 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Hot Shots will provide live entertainment at The Garage.

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Sunday is the final weigh-in day and the final day of the city-wide rummage sale.

Cruisers parking lot will be hosting a Car Show from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  displaying a wide assortment of antique cars.  A DJ will provide music so bring out your dancing shoes and come kick up your heels.  It’s going to be a fun day!

At 4:00 p.m. AIM pro Marianne Huskey (or some of her fellow anglers), will host a NPAA Youth Clinic.

Marianne runs a NPAA youth event at each of the AIM tournaments.  Many sponsored items are given to each child such as rod/reel combos, Frisbee’s from Off Shore Tackle, jigs from Fin-tech Tackle and T-Shirts with the NPAA Sponsors logos on them along with “Future Pro 2012” on the opposite side.  Children have the opportunity to have that one-on-one contact with the pro’s they see on TV, have their T-Shirts autographed and share a “fish” story or two!

Two weeks prior to the tournament, local businesses will be participating in a “Shop Oconto and Fish with a Pro” contest.  Not only will we get to see which AIM Pro will take home first place, but 10 names will be drawn to have the chance to fish with an AIM Pro in their very own tournament on Monday—the day after the AIM event.  All entries will come from the local businesses and the winners must be present at the final weigh-in on day three.

Then last but certainly not least, the FINAL weigh-in time begins at 5:00PM, Who will win this Oconto tournament and be the first ever to take home an AIM Professional Walleye Series Pro Team Challenge award?  It should be very interesting to hear how the anglers liked the Pro Team Challenge and to hear the fishing details of what it took to win using this new Pro-Team format.

At the end of the day you are welcome to spend a relaxing evening listening to the music of “Roger Pagel” starting at 8:00 p.m. at Breakwater Park

Monday, July 23, 2012
Don’t forget……..The ten winners of the “Shop Oconto and Fish with a Pro” contest will get to experience a day on the water “fishing with/and like a Pro!”  Come see who got to compete in this once in a life-time experience!  What a wonderful way to close out a wonderful week of tournament activities.

With so many festivities being planned and the AIM Series Professional Fishermen coming to town, it certainly will be a full fun-packed week in Oconto, Wisconsin.  With the added new twist of “The Pro Team Challenge”, it’s an exciting time to be part of the AIM Professional Walleye Series.

Hop in the Fun — Fish Oconto!

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