AIM® and Winneconne: A Natural Fit
Apr 14th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 14th, 2011 at 3:14 PM
AIM® and Winneconne: A Natural Fit
Hours, Locations Detailed For Fans of the AIM Tournament Scheduled for April 20 to 22.
AIM’s history with the Winneconne system actually starts long before the AIM Pro Walleye Series™ was conceived, says Doug Nelson of Wolf River Resorts, one of the tournament’s principal local sponsors.
The last major Pro-Am walleye tournament that took place on the Wolf River system was one of the last PWT events in 2007. Current AIM Pro Angler Gary Parsons, one of the favorites to win this event, won handily then. When AIM was forming in 2009 they came to Winneconne for a trial run tournament to test the practicality of the revolutionary and exclusive AIM Catch-Record-Release™ format. “I said sure, come here, but remember to bring it back when you’re up and running,” Nelson recalled.
Nelson expects the pros will showcase a spectacular system of rivers and lakes filled with hungry walleye. “Every walleye fisherman knows that towards the end of April there aren’t many places in Wisconsin that are open,” Nelson says. “Most of the state is closed until the first Saturday in May. But the Wolf River system is open year-around. And we know that starting around the first of April as many as a million walleyes will swim under the Winneconne bridge to spawn upriver and that most will swim back under it towards the end of April, so this is the place to be,” he says.
“The Winnebago system is open year-round because the state has determined that walleye numbers have continued to climb despite year-round angling. Our walleye population is strong and growing. And with high waters levels upstream this year, we’re headed towards another fantastic spawning season.” Nelson adds, “One thing that’s necessary for a good spawn is to have the marsh areas flooded so the walleye can easily get in, and so the resulting hatched fry can get flushed into the system. If we were to plan ideal conditions for a good spawn and future walleyes, we couldn’t do it much better than what Nature is doing right now.”
Nelson outlined the tournament’s vital statistics for that planning on seeing walleye fishing’s best in action and meeting the pros during special events.
Headquarters and Weigh-In
Tournament headquarters is Critter’s Sports on the west side of Winneconne at 700 W. Main Street. Now in its fourth year of business, Critters provides Wisconsin’s largest indoor archery range. The range will be cleared for AIM’s webcasted live “virtual” weigh-in starting at 5 p.m. each day. The weigh-ins will allow the Pro Anglers to show their catch and talk techniques at the end of each day’s fishing. Because of the AIM CRR format, the Pros will be able to “weigh” seven fish (since no fish are kept the state bag limit rules do not apply.)
AIM has accepted the opportunity to stage the weigh-in indoors so no one has to contend with the fickle spring weather in Wisconsin! Nelson explained, “We don’t think there’s another facility quite like this in Wisconsin capable of hosting a spring tournament.” Besides great deals on sporting goods, Critters also includes a bar and restaurant known as “Woodeyes”.
Launch, Start and Check-in
The 44 teams of AIM Pro Anglers and Co-anglers will leave exactly at 8 a.m. each morning from the Winneconne City Park, immediately downstream of the Main Street Bridge. From here the boats will fan out both upstream and downstream, covering literally hundreds of square miles of walleye habitat. All boats must be back by 4 p.m. daily of face disqualification.
Other Tournament Events
Want to meet your favorite walleye Pro? Or want to walk with Pros to support a great cause? You’ve got two chances. “On Saturday, April 16, nearly a dozen pros have committed to participate in a walk to raise money for juvenile diabetes research and support the approximately dozen kids in our community suffering from it,” said Nelson. The walk will start at 3:30 p.m. from Anytime Fitness on the town’s east side, and will end at Critters Sports. Following the walk, there will be opportunities to get Pro autographs and let the kids take part in everything from casting contests to fun at a fishing pond.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, it will be party time at Critters Sports, where you can once again meet your favorite AIM Pro Anglers and be entertained by Detroit’s Brian Schram Band. Schram is known as the Rock & Roll Fisherman, and will also be fishing as a Co-angler in the tournament.
Then on the tournament’s final day, Friday, April 22, bring the kids to Critters Sports at 4 p.m. for a free fishing rod and tee-shirt giveaway, sponsored by the National Professional Anglers Association, and stay to see the Champion crowned starting at 5 p.m.