Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 20, 2020
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Mid-August on Lake Winnebago: When The Going
Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going, In AIM WI Championship
When it’s mid-August on any walleye lake, it takes a special angler to net fish that will net you cash, and that’s looking to be the case for the AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Garmin/Berkley Wisconsin state championship on Lake Winnebago , this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22 and 22.
“The lake is in late-summer form, and that means it’ll take a special team to top the great field now assembling at Oshkosh, ,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “It’s now down to the wire for it all: the state championship, an invitation to next year’s National Championship Shootout, and Yamaha Motor Corp. Team Of The Year honors. Our anglers below feel it’s going to be a challenging go. But that’s what a championship is. It’s all decided here.”
Three of the teams who will be pushing off early Friday morning in their quest that began here in June all agree it’s going to be tough to find those fish needed to top the talented field who will be competing.
Brad Schrauth of Campbellsport, and partner Jeremy Clark from Theresa will be searching this week in his Garmin-equipped, Mercury Pro XS 250 four-stroke-powered boat. And Schrauth feels the lake just hasn’t been itself the entire summer.
“I’ve not been on the lake for over a month,” Schrauth said. “The last tournament there was very punishing to my soul, so I didn’t want to go out again. It’s just been off. Some think the fish have stayed up river (on the Fox River system’s upper lakes), or there are not the numbers. There are a lot of theories going around, but the seasonal bites haven’t been there, and tournament weights have been spotty.
Right now, he said, the lake’s usual late-summer pea soup algae bloom hasn’t developed as usual, either. “You’ve got the pea soup, and then you have extremely clean water. Usually by now 75 percent of the lake is soup, and when it gets blown out of an area that water is gin clear.
“Normally the guys trolling kinda struggle this time of year, but I really think it’s going to be a crap shoot. The upper river and lakes might still be a factor, too. If someone fishes to their strength instead of following what typically works out there it might be better for them,” he added.
When he’s on the lake in late summer, he said, he’s often running and gunning, picking off fish here and there. “It sounds ridiculous, but I usually have to run back and forth from the south to the northeast side. I’ll literally start on the north, go south and then back. I’ll definitely be coming in with less than 10 gallons of fuel every day out of 50-plus,” he said.
Captain Mike Maas and partner son Dakota Maas, both from North Fond du Lac, will celebrate Dakota’s 21st birthday next month, and he’s shooting for an extra special present this time as they tackle Winnebago in his Mercury 300 Verado-powered, Garmin LiveScope-equipped boat. Can you say, “reaction bite?” Because that will be the key, Maas believes.
“The lake has a super-tough bite right now because of the forage, from the spring hatch. There is so much in the system right now. You’ve got to figure something out that is going to separate you and get a reaction bite,” Maas said. “I’ve been working for the last two weeks trying to figure that out.
“You can get smaller fish on the reef tops, but those aren’t the winning fish. The big girls are still out in the mud, but they have so much forage you have to find something. I’m going to try outside the box the next two days and try some things. I know where the fish are. You’ve got to figure out how to get a reaction from them.”
“One of the tactics I’m trying is a slow troll with some erratic stuff, and the other will be snap jigging. Don’t even let’em think about it because if they’ve got time, they’ll come up and just smell your bait.”
Jeff Nuechterlein of Greenville and partner Ryan Foster of Kaukauna will be in their 350 Verado-powered, Garmin equipped boat with a Fishing Specialties LiveScope system. Nuechterlein also feels it will be a challenging championship.
“This is late summer and traditionally late summer on Winnebago equals tough fishing. I think it will be one of the toughest tournaments we have faced in many years. Couple that with a drought—we haven’t seen a drop of rain for two weeks—and there’s nothing in sight, and water levels are dropping, which reduces the amount of current on the lake. All those are negatives.
“The weights will be down over a two-day event. Honestly, 10 pounds a day will take the top five. We’ll all be doing a lot of searching and if we see fish, we’ll be casting with everything in the arsenal. It’s going to be one fish here and one there,” Nuechterlein said. “My gut tells me most fish will relate to structure and weeds which is where we think we’re going to find them.”
Nuechterlein’s partner Foster agreed and having a championship so late in the summer here is an added challenge to overcome. “You really have to put in your time and pay attention.
“I’m thinking you’ll see a lot of bags in 8, 10 or 12 pounds a day. There’s probably going to be somebody who will pull 18 or 20 one day because there are so many great fishermen here, but I really think that if you can put together 30 pounds, 15 each day, I’d like to think you’ve got a really good shot at winning,” Foster said.
Foster and Neuchterlein are in seventh for Team Of The Year going in to Winnebago, and they’re hopeful that they’re the ones who can put two great days together.
That’s what a few score of anglers also are wondering, as they gather at one of the country’s best inland walleye lakes once more. They will plan, they will hope, and they will rise to the challenge that will make all of them, regardless of their finish, heroes.
That quest for that finish will begin on Friday morning, with boat inspection at 5 a.m. at the launch site for both days, Menominee Park, in Oshkosh. Boats will leave starting at 7 a.m., and are required to check back in both days starting at 3 p.m.
The championship winners will be announced at the park on Saturday, Aug. 22, at approximately 5 p.m. Good luck to all teams!
Stay with AIM on-water action starting this Friday, at the Wisconsin championship on Lake Winnebago, followed by Minnesota on Lake of the Woods Aug. 28-29. Team Of The Year honors and that Yamaha kicker for both states also will be at stake.
Watch for day-of updates on both, posted at AIM’s Facebook page. Details on all AIM tournaments are at the AIM website.
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, Berkley, Abu-Garcia, Fenwick, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Quality Flow Systems, Gemini Sport Marketing, Oshkosh Visitors Bureau, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn.