Blancks Win At Winnebago In AIM’s Final Wisconsin Division ‘Nitro Boats Open’ Qualifier
Aug 7th, 2015 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Aug 7th, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Some thought it’d be won in Lake Winnebago proper. Others figured the Wolf River system of lakes was the best.
But at the end of the day, the former won that bet, as concentrating on weed beds along the lake’s western shore, the father-son (yup, again) team of Kevin and Mike Blanck of nearby Malone, WI won the final AIM Weekend Walleye Series Wisconsin Division Nitro Boats Open on Lake Winnebago on Sunday, July 19.
The day didn’t quite start off like a winner, however, said son Mike. “We started off fishing the weeds on Winnebago at the west side of the north end, but it was hard because our bow mount motor wasn’t working at all, so we had no boat control in the wind, and we were forced to use our kicker.”
Starting in water only 2 to 4 feet deep, they had to clear the kicker of weeds numerous times, and after battling wind, they headed south, but stayed on those weeds along the south shore, and again in those 2- to 4-foot depths.
“We had one good bite but we didn’t have any fish until 11 a.m. We worked our way down to the spots we had pre-fished, and finally came cross a few. They were a little deeper, in 3 to 5 feet, where the weeds came up 3 feet off the bottom,” he continued.
Working small spinners there, they lost a big fish on their first pass so the slid out to slightly deeper water. “We had our five on the card then but they were smaller fish, from 15 to 18 inches, and we decided to go back to a little dirtier water and when were just thinking about leaving, we pulled in a 25-3/4-inch fish. Right there we decided to work the area and stay the rest of the day, and the big fish just turned on,” he said.
It also could be that while dad Kevin steered the kicker, Mike worked the rods, changing blade colors and running everything from crawlers, leeches and plastics. “Firetiger were working very well, and if it got cloudy, we moved to darker,” Mike said.
“We pulled that first 25-3/4-inch fish, and made another pass and pulled the 24-¼-incher. After that we figured we’d be in the money, but after we got a second 25-3/4-incher, our focal point changed and we figured we might have a chance to win.” Then chance again played its hand.
“We were just starting to reel up for the day and had the first two lines in and were going to grab the third when the board went screaming back and it was a 21-3/4-inch fish. We got it in and high-fived each other and reeled in lines to go in as we figured we had a really good chance at winning,” Mike said.
“It was really difficult, because in weeds you have to constantly check your lines. There was a point there where I realized I didn’t have anything to drink for about three hours,” he added. “We really had to work hard to get the fish we did.
But, hard work paid off, in the form of a 26.53-pound bag and a $6,500 check. But wait, there’s more, as the commercials say. Because they won it in a Mercury-powered Warrior V203 DC, they earned another $1,000 in Warrior cash. “Now we’re looking forward to the championship,” Mike said.
Meanwhile, in the other area that some had predicted would produce the winner, the team of John Herrmann and Sean Fruend were in Lake Butte des Morts.
“I had gone down to the big lake the last three weekends in a row and the only place I caught any good fish was on lake Butte des Morts,” Herrmann said. It’s the last on the Wolf River system before it pours into Winnebago.
“I had caught like a 25 and a 19 so I left it alone until Friday. We had six fish by noon that day and I told my partner that’s where we were going on Sunday.”
Fishing Number 7 Flicker Shads, they went by the adage, dark when it’s cloudy, bright when it’s bright. Or at least Freund did first, and it paid off.
“He put on a Firetiger 5 feet down in 7 to 8 feet of water, and he had two walleye before I had a bite. So we started switching colors constantly, trying to find out what they were hitting on, and bang, a 25-3/4-inch fish hit,” Herrmann said. “We were running pretty fast, too, around 1.9 mph.” By noon they had five fish recorded, and after upgrading three fish, their 24.29-pound bag earned them second place and $2,000.
Third place and $1,600 went to Matt Johannes, Pine River, WI, and Dan Vukovich, of Greenfield, WI, landing 22.86 pounds. This is their 3rd time taking 3rd place this season.
In fourth, with 22.75# and taking home $1,400, was John Schneider, Shawano, WI, and John Clumpner, of Little Suamico, WI.
Earning a fifth with 22.53# and $1,200 was Scott and Jessie DuFrane, both of New London, WI.
The Navionics BIG FISH THURSDAY bonus Winner was a 3 way tie at 26″. See our facebook page for a video showing a drawing that made Scott and Jessie DuFrane the big fish winners and a Platinum hot maps electronic chart map owner, courtesy of Navionics.
The Wisconsin Division Championship is slated for August 21st and 22nd out of Beautiful OCONTO WI on the shore of Green Bay.
Contact: Denny Fox, AIM National Tournament Director, 920-505-0122; [email protected]
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.
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