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Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Will Weather Again Play A Role at Petenwell

For Next AWWS Wisconsin Qualifier?


The weather has been a factor now for several AIM Weekend Walleye Series qualifiers, including one that was canceled. While Sunday’s Wisconsin Garmin Open qualifier at the site of last year’s National Championship Shootout doesn’t look like it’ll be bumpy and as wet as some feared, the lake’s warming up for some big bags to match last year’s count.

“Earlier this week we had some predictions of a windy, rainy day for Sunday, but mid-week forecast on the Windfinder app looks decent after some windy overnights and temps tickling the record book with near-mid 90s midweek to around 70 on game day and maybe afternoon rain,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “For at least a few teams this will be a tune-up for the AIM National Championship Shootout in about three weeks in neighboring Minnesota. Petenwell’s fish, and the lake itself, are heavy and ready for us. Water is a bit cooler than normal in some places and warmed up in others. We’ll see how our field of 74 teams fares.”

Last year, the Shootout was won here with minnows, bobbers and chubs in the trees at the lake’s north end. The last time AIM was here for a qualifier in 2015, Terry Mayhall of Waukesha won. He’ll be back Sunday with son Jarod of Greenfield. He’s thinking the variable water temps will play a role, too.

“I was out there Saturday and Sunday of this last weekend, and today it’s very warm, and I think that would make the bite a little better. Right now, we found water temperatures all over from 46 to 60 some, so the warm weather will make more of the system somewhat accessible to where there’s going to be a bite,” Terry Mayhall reported.

“I think last year when they fished the championship here, they started with slip bobbers in the sunken treetops. I still think the majority now will be caught on the channel edges jigging and dead sticking. I think the trolling bite is just starting. There are still a lot of fish in the river (where the Wisconsin River below Nekoosa Dam later forms Lake Pete), mostly smaller males. There are some decent size fish being caught on the lake. The water was really clear last weekend, probably as clear as I’ve seen in a long time,” he continued. Now by Petenwell standards, three feet is pretty darned clear, which is about what he reported in spots.

“The water’s been so cold and there’s no algae at all, and the amount of runoff is not as great as it has been. It should be good water clarity for sure,” Mayhall added. And, he’s coming loaded with live bait. That should give you a hint of what to stock up on when you visit here.

“I know there are some casting plastics, but most I saw last weekend were using live bait. Chubs, and a river mix, which is all types of minnows. A lot were using chubs or river suckers,” he said.

“I think it’s going to take maybe 32 or 33 to win,” Mayhall predicts. That’s pretty close to what the championship winner carded last June each day.

“The last time we won (in 2015) with about 23 pounds, but the fishery has grown a lot bigger because of the slot limit that’s affected size. I think someone’s going to find group of bigger females, sit on it and catch five or six,” he added.

“I think the field will be split between the river and the lake if the white bass aren’t in there by the thousands by then. I do believe not everybody will concentrate on the lake.”

Tristan Beckwith of West Bend and Isaac Lakich of Richfield finished seventh at last year’s AIM national championship. Sunday, they’ll be throttling up a Warrior 2090 Backtroller powered by a Mercury 250 Pro XS and with all Garmin electronics aboard. He’s initially betting on those sunken trees to do the deed.

“That’s kind of central to our game plan,” Lakich said. “The trees definitely will be in play and the river as well. The channel and even up in the river towards the Nekoosa dam also, because of the late spring we’re having.

“I think a multitude of jigging tactics will be used. Trolling will probably come into play for this too because a lot of fish will be suspended coming off post-spawn,” he added. Since suspended fish are active fish, that means, hungry.

“So it could be a crank bait kinda deal with not super-aggressive tactics. I don’t think the weeds will come into play with the spring we’ve been having. It’s been off by a week or two. I think that for this, it won’t be quite as good as the Shootout was, but if you’re going to cash a check you’re going to be cracking 20 pounds, and if someone cracks a 25 to 30, you’ve got it won.”


While often it’s not a good idea to fish memories, sometimes it definitely is, and Lakich said they’ll also be looking at the same areas with the different tactics, or vice versa. “This is a month’s difference than last year. That doesn’t sound like a lot but in the fishing world it is,” he added. “Water temperatures we’ve found are in the low 50s, and the highs last year were almost in the mid 60s.”

Daniel Hobbs of Wisconsin Rapids and partner Steve Frederick of Kenosha will be piloting a Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat, with Garmin electronics in the mix aboard. He’s one of the reasons the field here is close to full.

“I put out fliers about this one. I’m local, so it’s good for our economy to have all these teams here. There’s going to be a ton of money spent here in the week and that’s good for everybody here,” he said.

Hobbs thinks the whipsaw weather will play a role, but in a good way, at least first.

“Last year we had 70-degree water. This time it’s 40s in the river and low 50s on the lake. But now, with this super warm weather that’s going to change. It’s going to turn the lake on,” Hobbs said. “The only question is, what’s going to happen with the cold front coming in for Sunday.”

Those mid-week 80s and 90s will slide to the high 60s or low 70s Sunday

“So what’s working Saturday might not be working on Sunday,” he said. “Because everything’s changing, I think a trolling bite’s going to be phenomenal once the water warms. Right now, people are jigging and rigging, and I think that’s going to change. So, bring everything but the kitchen sink with you because you don’t know what you’re going to be doing. There’s fish in the river and fish in the lake.

“They may not be the right ones in the river. The spawn is over, so those big females are going. You may pick up a couple in the river but not like it was a couple weeks or even 10 days ago. Everything here is behind probably a week or two, but with this weather it’s going to change. And rapidly. It depends on how much sun we get,” he added.

Will it be won way north on the river just down from the dam, maybe even trolling upstream, a technique popular on many rivers in spring? Will the sun come and with it, warmer water in the lake, and will the wind gusts stay kind? Will the trees along the sunken river’s edge warm first and hold fish? Who’ll figure it out?

That will be the story come Sunday afternoon at the awards ceremony in Adams County Park starting at 5 p.m. It all starts Saturday evening at 7 p.m. with AIM’s online rules meeting. Teams check in at 5:30 a.m. with boat inspections at the park. At 7 a.m., the first flight heads out, followed by the second at 7:15. Boats return starting at 3 p.m. Good luck to all!

Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook page for more info from Petenwell, as well as  upcoming events, and register for all events at AIM’s website.

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.

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

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