AIM Weekend Walleye Series: Niklasch/ Kumorkiewicz Best the Best
Jun 4th, 2015 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jun 4th, 2015 at 12:00 AM
If you’re lucky enough to win one nationally-ranked fishing tournament, you may just consider that run of luck good for life.
But winning two? In a row? Within two weeks? Pulling off that well-nigh impossible feat is exactly what the Wisconsin team of Lynn Niklasch, of Oconomowoc, and partner Mark Kumorkiewicz of Pleasant Prairie did, first besting the field in the May 17 AIM Weekend Walleye Series Wisconsin qualifier, and then trouncing it at this year’s Championship Shootout on Minnesota’s Lac Qui Parle at Montevideo, walking away with the win and a new Warrior Boat/Yamaha motor combo worth more than $50,000. Not a bad two weekend’s work, would you say?
And when we say trouncing, we mean trounce. The pair was so far ahead after the first day that they probably wouldn’t even have had to fish the second to win. But, they did, besting the field both days. And, they did it using a method neither of them were particularly enamored with: jigging.
Here’s how, so you can perhaps put into practice the same technique:
Niklasch, who guides in the mostly trolled waters of Green Bay, first used a trick that didn’t even involve water. They listened. A lot!
“We tried to gather as much information as we could on the lake before we got there, Niklasch said. While doing so, they heard that if they were going to win, they’d need chubs, and plenty of ’em. “We spent the six or eight hours driving time getting there, trying to find chubs at every bait store we could think of. We ended up only finding about a dozen or 18 on the way. It would turn out later they never used a one.
Next, they looked at launches to familiarize themselves with the lake. “Then we talked to as many locals as we could, looking at pictures in restaurants and asking advice at bait stores when it was legal prior to the tournament. Our goal was to win by trolling,” Niklasch continued. But, Minnesota law requires only one rod per person. That and other factors caused them to switch gears and tactics.
After getting on the lake, the two used their electronics to “structure-scan” most of its north side. “We ended up finding some rock pikes and then we checked out the southern half,” he said. One of the other issues to contend with was water. The lake had risen about eight feet in the two weeks prior to AIM’s coming to Montevideo. Getting under the bridge that separated the lake in about half at Randall’s Milan Beach Resort was an adventure as a result. Some of the boats had to pick a side each day and stay on that side because they could not fit under the bridge.
“We spent a lot of time trolling where the Navionics map chip was telling us it was land because the water was so high. Tournament rules stated that once pre fishing started at 6 am on Memorial day, we could no longer talk fishing with anyone other than the other competitors in the event. So we were able to communicate with another team, Cam Lewis and Scott Rohlhoff (who eventually finished 12th in the 15-boat-field). Pre-fishing, they said, was pretty slow due to the lake change and weather.
But, Lewis and Rohlhoff had found a spot under the Route 40 bridge, about 5 ½-miles from the start.
“I had a boat launch position that would allow me to get there, so by luck of the draw we got there first to anchor at this bridge pillar. We pitched small Northland Gumball floating jigs tipped with mostly crawlers and leeches. It was really rocky there and we needed something to get right on top of the pylons.
“We’d pitch them into eight or nine feet of water that the locals told us two weeks ago we wouldn’t have even gotten our boats over. And it just happened there were a couple of big fish there”. After a pretty slow pre-fish period that never saw them catch a limit, Niklasch said, There turned out to be a bit more than a couple of fish there.
“We caught the first couple of fish around 19 or 20 inches. Then, a 26, then another 28, and all of a sudden, it was ‘holy cow, we’d sat on the right spot. We basically caught all our winning fish on day one,” coming back to the dock with what turned out to be an unbeatable CRR’ed converted weight of 32.20 pounds.
On day two, both admitted they didn’t know whether or not they’d be able to be the first boat to their spot. But when push came to shove, there were no other boats on their spot. Both Niklasch and Kumorkiewicz praised their fellow competitors as true sportsmen, who were always courteous, never crowded their positions, allowing them to fish the spot that kept them in the lead with another 18.12 on day two, for a total of 50.32 pounds.
“I had no clue we’d be so far in the lead after the first day. I thought everybody would be around 25 pounds. Being a troller at heart it was difficult to fish with one rod pitching at the same bridge pillar for two days,” Niklasch said laughing.
“We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on day one,” agreed Kumorkiewicz, who also couldn’t have been more appreciative of the courtesy shown them by their fellow anglers. “Those guys in Minnesota are some great fishermen. We spoke with a lot of them and they were all very respectful and I’d fish with any one of them anytime.”
When the winner was announced, Niklasch said his first thoughts were of his family at home and felt blessed that he was able to have their backing and that of his sponsors. “I have twin boys at home and it’s hard on my wife for me to be gone so much, so I’m hoping the win eases some of the pain of me not being there,” he said.
When the eventual second place team of Minnesotans Ryan Hylla of Albany, and Chaz Dobias, of Bemidji checked in they had a total weight of 29.98 pounds, winning them a POWER POLE 10ft Blade and $250.00 Cash.
Third place finishers were the Mike Gengalos’, Junior and Senior, of Merrill, WI, posting a 28.35-pound total who also took home a 10ft blade POWER POLE and $250.00 Cash
Fourth was another father and son team, Ross and Reid Grothe, of Northfield, MN, with 25.74 pounds who won a POWR TRAN Python electric kicker steering unit and $250.00 in cash.
Denny Fox, National Tournament Director for the AWWS said, “The local people were some of the nicest people I have met. Jeff Randall of Milan Beach Resort, the take off launch each day, went over and above helping out with every aspect of the event. Tom Anderson with the American Legion was hands on helping set up the weigh in show each day at post 59 in Montevideo. I want to thank both of these guys as well as the Convention and Visitors bureau for making sure our anglers were informed of the area before they arrived of all the things to do in Montivideo.