Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 16, 2017
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Wow! 82-Plus Pounds In Two Days Takes Green Bay’s AWWS Nitro Boats Open Wisconsin Division Championship
Many of us, no, most of us, would be happy to see five walleye weighing 25 pounds after a day’s fishing. To come back to the dock with 42 pounds one day, and 40 the next would be monumental. Mind-blowing, even. But that’s exactly what Team Engebretson did to best the 56-boat field and win the AWWS Nitro Boats Wisconsin Division Championship at Oconto Aug. 11-12.
Guy Engebretson, Wausau, WI, fishing with his 14-year-old son Cole, beat out the second-place team of Jake Becker of Genoa City, and Chris Rice, Burlington, by about ¾-pound, to win $8,500 by—you guessed it—going north from Oconto’s harbor both days to a yet-unnamed series of spots. They’ve got another tournament coming up, and hope the fish will still be there for that one, too. All Guy would say is, that it was “quite a ways north.”
“This time of year we catch a lot of big fish north. We fished a lot of spots. The conditions were changing a lot. We started practice the previous Saturday and had done a lot of fishing across the bay. The day before, we started noticing changing patterns,” he said.
On Day One they carded six right away, and then began scrambling for big fish, finding them somewhere off Door County, including a 27-1/2-incher on crankbaits, then left those to sandbag them for Saturday, and headed north.
“Cole caught a bunch casting. He tends to do things differently than I do. He has his own techniques,” Engebretson said. “Some days, I get’em pretty good and some days he does. And he happened to get’em Friday.”
On Day Two, things appeared to slow for a lot of teams. “It did for us too,” he said. “We noticed changing water conditions and clarity. It was a much tougher bite. We hit our spots and the fish didn’t come as fast.
“We’d hit an active spot and catch a couple. The fish were not set up on the structure as before. It took us a little while to find them.” But, they realized, if it was tough for them, it probably was tough for everyone. It took them a while to get their five.
“Then sometime about lunch, Cole hit a 28-1/4 and that was a key upgrade. Then right before we had to leave, we hit a nice pod where we caught three in about 10 minutes, and one was a 28-1/2. We ended Day Two with 40.09 pounds,” he added, using a mix of jigging plastics, lipless rattlebaits and Shiver Minnows, and turned their Yamaha-powered boat towards Oconto, and first place.
He and his son won a tournament in 2014, but this their biggest for sure, and he loves AIM’s Catch-Record-Release™ format, especially this time of year.
“With warm water, releasing all those fish, there is no other way to run a tournament. We love watching big walleye swim back down to the bottom. Fishing AIM tournaments has been an exceptional experience, with full fields in every event. The organization, and AIM’s conservation approach has been phenomenal for Cole and me. There are a lot of very quality individuals with a lot of integrity not only running the tournaments, but fishing them.”
In second the team of Becker and Rice are certain they could have overtaken the Engebretsons had two fish not self-released at the end of Day One.
“That ¾-pound is heart-breaking, let me tell ya,” Becker said. Their hunt that brought them a second place and a slot in the next AIM Weekend Walleye Series National Championship Shootout at a spot to be named early next year began at the AIM qualifier in Oconto in July. He’d only taken two days off work then, and he decided he had to pre-fish the entire week prior to the Wisconsin Championship to have a good shot at winning. He didn’t find the spot they fished until Tuesday of last week. He was a bit more willing to tell where they boated their 82.02 pounds over two days.
“We were fishing Chambers Island on the north side, 16 to 20 feet on the steep breaks. There had to be rocks, too. We were jigging the whole time using 15-pound braided line with a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader about six feet long with No. 3 Shiver Minnows,” Becker said. “We used six different color patterns that had purple, and they all worked. If it didn’t have purple it wouldn’t catch a single fish. I never put my trolling rods in the water,” Becker said. And every fish in that cooler water was a fighter.
“Every walleye over 26 inches we caught, it felt like you were fighting a 20-pound northern. They were making really long runs, and often the back hook was straightened right out. That was the key, play them or they’d rip the hooks,” he said.
Then there were those trolling motor batteries. Not changing them before Day One may have cost them first, he said.
“Friday morning my batteries only lasted 90 minutes before they were dead. And we had two fish Friday that we lost and I blame the batteries, because they were very easily 27-plus,” he said.
Day Two was a matter of run, cast, net, repeat. With those new batteries. “We went back to the same spots and the second cast we got a 28-3/4-incher.”
They’re already looking forward to the Shootout next spring. “That was our goal, to make the top five in Team Of The Year, or the top five to get into the Shootout. It was a really big accomplishment,” Becker said.
Also making that coveted Top Five to earn an automatic spot in the Shootout next year are the third-place team of John Schneider, Shawano, WI, and John Clumpner, Little Suamico, who netted 78.63 pounds and $3,000. Fourth place was filled by Matt and Bill Bobber, Appleton, with 76.89 pounds, good for $2,500. In fifth, Joe Mans, Peshtigo, WI, and Tom Nelson, Neenah, brought in 76.20 pounds for $2,000 and that Shootout invitation.
The final event in the 2017 AIM Weekend Walleye Series regular season will be the Minnesota Championship on island-strewn, 39,000-acre Lake Vermillion Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25-26. We’ll preview of what’s in store prior to the championship prior to boats-in-the-water Friday.
Meanwhile, follow all the action coming up 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 www.aimfishing.com.
AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats, LLC.
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.