AIM Weekend Walleye Series – Figuring Out The Jigsaw That Is Lake Pete: How Four Teams
Jun 4th, 2021 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jun 4th, 2021 at 8:17 AM
Figuring Out The Jigsaw That Is Lake Pete: How Four Teams
Get Ready For The BIG Show, AIM Championship Shootout Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
There was frost last weekend, and for the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout, on Wisconsin’s Lake Petenwell, it will be in the 90s. Lake Pete’s gin clear in the south, stained in the north. A wild temperature swing, for sure.
And then there are the trees. Cut stumps in some areas, in the south, a literal forest under the water in others, with 12 feet of lure-snagging trees in 18 feet of water in spots. In other words, the perfect venue for one team to put the jigsaw pieces together to win it all on this two-day tournament that will bring that team a Warrior Boat/150 Yamaha four-stroke/Garmin electronics package worth a cool $55,000-plus.
“This is it. What the 31 teams invited to this prestigious event have worked for more than a year on the water, pouring over maps and videos, satellite images, and traveling here numerous times from across the upper Midwest,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “It’s all on the line this Friday and Saturday (June 4-5), and it’s going to be a great one. Challenging events bring out the best in our anglers, and have we got the best here on Lake Pete. That V189DC Warrior, with a 150 Yamaha on the transom, and that best -in-class Garmin electronics package will be there for the team that does it. Now let’s see who comes in both days with that telltale smile on their faces.”
Here’s a look at what each of four teams interviewed have done on pre-fishing. Remember, each division from Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota gets 10 team slots. That includes the top five in the Yamaha Motor Corp. Team Of The Year standings from 2020, and the top five from each state championship. If a team earns a spot in each category from their state, they will be awarded the state championship spot and a spot goes to the next in line from the Team Of The Year standings to fill the field. That 31st spot went to the AIM Quest For The Best winner.
The next Quest, the first of two this year by the way, gets underway next weekend on Lake Mille Lacs. There is still room in both Quest for you to join.
While a lot can change between practice and the real thing, pre-fishing is a good glimpse into what all teams are facing on this unique, 11-mile-long, 23,000-acre lake that’s actually a drowned portion of the Wisconsin River, featuring a 20- to 28-inch protected walleye slot. That means a chance for some big weights both days. All they need do is figure it out. And that’s the challenge.
Lonnie Jacobs and partner Janine Landsiedel of Douglas are part of the North Dakota contingent, and on Day One of pre-fishing were just getting used to this new-to-them water, getting on The Pete at 6 a.m. with his Mercury 350 Verado-powered boat. He’s definitely encountered the lake’s underwater forest, as many have called it, losing about 20 lures in the first four hours.
“We’ve started to get it figured out. Give us another day or two to dial it in,” Jacobs said. I think people will catch fish. We’re marking some. That slot limit has where a lot are under 15 inches. So catching isn’t the problem, catching the right ones is going to be the trick. We’re definitely going to try our rigging, that’s what we like to do. It’ll take maybe 18 to 20 pounds a day to win.”
Reached on the water on Day Two, his outlook was improving. “We’re feeling a lot better. We’ve caught some fish on jigs, rigging and pulling crankbaits, and that’s not even a lie,” Jacobs laughed. “We’ve got two more days to decide what to do. This lake had a hold of us yesterday and we feel a lot better today.”
Hunter Nitti from Rosemount, MN is in a 350 Verado-powered boat with his uncle Anthony from Blaine. He’s also never been on the lake before this season. Results?
“Day One sucked. Very few fish (that’s walleye), and lots of striped bass,” Hunter said. They concentrated on shallower water. Day two was “all right.” They fished a little deeper. Day Three?
“Good,” he said. Notice a pattern here? They’d gotten into walleye, in more stained water, but too small, he felt, to win with. He wouldn’t hazard a guess about what weight it will take to win.
“This lake seems like it could change in a second, however,” he added. No question it will, with a massive temp swing predicted to soar into the 90s coming for Game Day.
Wisconsin’s Jim Erdman and Jeremy Hurst from Oshkosh are riding 300 Verado power, with Garmin Panoptix aboard. He’s also unfamiliar with the lake, so they’ve been eliminating where not to fish, both using live bait and trolling, and exploring. They were reached on Day Two of pre-fish.
“It’s been a good experience so far, with a lot of smaller fish. “We’ve got our go-to spots but we’re trying a lot of different areas and confirming that we don’t want to fish so come the tournament they won’t be on our minds,” Erdman said. They’re working with two other teams.
“We chased around a lot on Day One, and we had some ideas and ran those not well. You’re going to lose a lot in the wood up here. This is a forest under the water. Larger tree tops and when it flooded it’s a forest, 18 feet of water and 12 feet of trees on the bottom.
“So far we have a variety of spots. We haven’t narrowed it down. Whether rigging, trolling or rods in hands, and both shallow and deep. It seems we’re getting a lot more small fish shallow. The potentially record-setting heat may be a big factor, he said. “The water temperature is rising extremely fast, three degrees a day, so we’re going to be well into the 70s by the weekend. The south end is gin clear. The north end seems a little dirtier, so we’re betting on dirty and deep,” Erdman said. With this sun and weather, it might get some algae going in the south.”
“Before the event, we were talking taking 20 pounds a day. But now I think if you can get five on the card and one or two slot fish, you’re going to be looking real pretty. Maybe 13 to 18 pounds a day will do it.”
Chris and Joe Kujawa of Lake City, MN won the first-ever Quest For The Best tournament last year on the Mississippi. Lake Pete is a little like that. And a little not, too, they said, when reached on Day Three of pre-fishing in their Mercury 300 ProXS-powered boat.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle everywhere, with the weather being colder than normal, the fish haven’t been cooperative. This is probably the first stable week,” the brothers both said.
“We’re slowly putting something together. We don’t feel comfortable with what we’re catching so far because it will probably take 20 a day to win this. Our first impression of Petenwell is, we were pretty nervous. We don’t fish this kind of stuff. There are trees everywhere. We’re trying to pull them out of the tops of the trees,” Chris said.
But, Joe chimed in that it’s kinda like the Mississippi, with that pesky flooded forest thrown in. “You’ve got a river and dams. There isn’t a current here like the Mississippi, but there is some. The majority of fish have been on the north end. We’re catching a lot, but a lot of small ones. Trying to get it to give up over 20 inches is what we’re looking for,” Chris then said.
“We’re anticipating pulling cranks to seek out areas the fish might be zoning in on,” Joe added. “We want to narrow it down, otherwise we’re going to turn and burn and look for active fish. We’ve had a decent Day Two of pre-fish. We feel we were one big bite away from having a contending bag,” he said.
“Either ride the tops of the trees or lose everything you have,” Joe added. “With this system it sets up like the Mississippi but the lake itself is unlike anything we’ve been on. So far, what we’re catching fish on is not repeatable.” Meaning, no pattern.
So far. That’s the key. Find a working program that will repeat for two days. Only two, with five fish each. That’s all that’s needed to drive away with that Warrior/Yamaha/Garmin package, and the championship. It’s just that easy, and just that hard.
And it all starts today, with team registration and rules meeting at 6 p.m. at Adams County Park in Arkdale. Boat inspection begins at 5:45 a.m. Friday at the park, with all boats released starting at 7 a.m., and returning at 3 p.m. Saturday, it repeats, starting at 5:45 a.m. The suspense, ending in awarding that beautiful rig, begins Saturday. Good luck to all teams!
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 inc.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Berkley, X2Power by Batteries Plus, Abu-Garcia, Fenwick, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Quality Flow Systems, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Marinette, WI