There are several factors playing a role of how those fishing the AIM Pro Team Challenge in Oconto chase after the walleyes on Green Bay. The first is an abundance of baitfish causing a tough bite. The second is a seven fish tournament limit. Should teams only shoot for big bites or a full card?
When pro Lynn Niklasch looked at the bay at takeoff Thursday morning, he could only describe it as “basically flat.” The calm conditions were enough to make him abandon his original plan and move into guide mode. He headed to a spot where he knew he could fill up on smaller fish.
He didn’t have his lines in the water long before he was pleasantly surprised by three nicer fish. It was enough to make him stay there most of the day just plugging away. Even though he had a great day one, he is hoping for more wind on day two. “It is entirely possible I will be fishing someplace else,” he said. He and partner Mark Kumorklewlcz had a total of 43.53lbs.
In second place, Russ and Steve Wagner have 38.73lbs Even though they fish the bay all the time, they only had seven bites all day. They stuck it out on one spot, fishing one pod of fish. They credit the lack of wind to their success.
The father and son team of Brett and Lucas King had five on the card at noon when they made a move in their Warrior boat to pick up two more. With seven fish on the card, they headed out to deeper water to get their 8th and last bite, to upgrade a smaller fish. Their full card of fish weighed 32.66lbs.
Rob Nickels and Buck Gehm have 30.59lbs by heading north and putting 12 fish in the boat after blanking down south. Catching 1-2 fish per pass, they are hoping for more wind on day two.
Chase Parsons and Mike Vorderstrasse put a total of 27.56lbs in the boat on day one to round out the top five. They started the day on the east shore where Gary Parsons and Chris Hansen had won the tournament the year before. They also hit the mud and Vincent’s to cobble together their best card possible. They plan on pulling Berkley Flicker Minnows over the mud on day two.
Brothers Robert and Josh Blosser are no strangers to the bay with several solid performances in the past. They had to move to several spots to put together 23.64lbs, good for 9th place. The found that honing in on their presentation was key and hope to use this knowledge to produce a bigger bag on day two.
Rounding out the top ten are Gary Parsons and Chris Hansen with 22.34lbs. The started the day graphing fish, before wetting a line at 8:45am. They had to do quite a bit of moving around before they filled their card. Enticing them with Berkley Flicker Minnows, they also lost few bites, including a fish at the net. They noted that the fish they were on were raising off the bottom at the end of the day and are hoping they turn on earlier on day two.
Father and son Dave and Joe Okada had seven bites all day long, but they just couldn’t get them all in the boat. With 18.19lbs putting them in 20th place, they are hoping to hang on and that big winds help them on day two.
Pete Petta and Dave Cooper earned a ticket to the Pro Team Challenge by winning the very first AIM Weekend Walleye Series out of Winneconne, WI in April. They didn’t have a fish on the card until 1pm. In addition to the 13.92lbs they landed, they also lost four fish. They will be heading back to the same spot and hope to start day two where they left off on day one.
Robert Cardenas and Ben Bertarm left the mud at noon for the east shore with a zero on their card. They managed to find 6 for 13.09lbs by fishing in 5-7 feet of water. They plan to fill up on small fish on day two right away before looking for big ones.
A flat calm bay has never been good to Keith Kavajecz and son Mike, who put 13.01lbs on the card on day one. After their big fish spots turned up empty, they had to resort to small fish to get on the board. With some wind on day two, they are looking to put up a bigger weight.
Another father and son team, David and Kent Andersen, also struggled, bringing in 9.80lbs. While they had a great prefish, it just wasn’t meant to be. When asked what changed, Kent replied, “They just needed to bite!”
Justin Schneider and Ken Marklien had a day much like Jake LaPine and Ross Grothe. Both teams moved around a lot, but struggled to make anything happen. While they are glad to be on the board, it will be big fish they are swinging for today.
RJ Harwood and Dave Kolb, along with Jimmy Bell and Adolph Hamann are just two of the seven teams that blanked. However it wasn’t for lack of effort, as they both tried multiple spots, but just couldn’t get bit.
The tournament will conclude after three days, on Saturday, July 26th at Breakwater Park in Oconto. Follow aimfishing.com for the latest information.
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 www.aimfishing.com.
AIM Marketing Partners: Yamaha Marine, Warrior Boats, Alumacraft Boats, Nitro Boats, Mercury Marine, Navionics, Amsoil, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Team Lodge, Gemini Sport Marketing, National Fleet Graphics, and The City of Oconto.