Is 112 Pounds-Plus At AWWS Marinette Championship Doable?
2 weeks ago by Keith Worrall
Modified Aug 27th, 2021 at 11:39 AM
Is 112 Pounds-Plus At AWWS Marinette Championship Doable? AIM Teams To Test Those Late Summer Sleds
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
This is it, the final of the finals, and the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Garmin/Berkley Wisconsin Division state championship may be poised to blast the top off the AIM record for a two-day tournament when teams take to the Bay of Green Bay and beyond from Marinette starting Friday (Aug. 27), to wrap up a great 2021 season.
“About a month ago there was a debate about which way to go from Marinette,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “We made a prediction then that it’d be north this time, and from early reports, we’re right on target. AIM’s two-day record, also set on Green Bay in 2019, is more than 112 pounds. Our teams have the sticks and the know-how to get there, and from what we hear, the fish are eager to comply, and Marinette is welcoming AIM to show what the waters here can give up. A 100-pound, two-day bag is within reach. You want to enter an AIM event with the potential to boat more than 100 pounds of walleye? This is the one.”
Gavin Scray, executive director of recreation and events for the City of Marinette, is echoing what Fox said.
“One of our marketing goals is to promote waterfront activities and fishing is one of them,” Scray said. “Walleye fishing is in full swing here right now. They are on their late-summer pattern, and we believe we’re one of the closest ports to get to them. We enjoy not only tournament anglers but recreational anglers to come stay in our hotels, buy their gas here and visit our restaurants.
“And, we’re a HUGE fan of AIM’s Catch-Record-Release format. We don’t have to worry about mortality rates and that’s one of the considerations in late summer with warm temps and warm water, and the distance some of these anglers have to travel by boat. With AIM’s approach, it’s just one less thing we and they have to worry about and we’re greatly in favor of it,” he said.
Now if you want a glimpse of what the bay may have in store, ask the team captain in second place for Yamaha Motor Corp. Wisconsin Team Of The Year, Guy Engebretson of Wausau. We reached him on the water, and he’ll be in his Yamaha 250-powered boat Friday with daughter Julia, who helped him win in Winneconne way back when snow was in the air in April.
He was north of Marinette, somewhere in Michigan water along the bay’s northwest shore. “Fishing’s very good,” he said, before being coaxed to report that he’s already touched a 31-incher.
“I think everybody knows there’s been some monster weights from the bay the last couple of weeks, and Marinette is going to put on a show,” Engebretson said. “The only reservation I have is the weather coming in Friday and Saturday.”
That weather calls for rain and thunder and a cold front arriving Friday, but winds are predicted to be in the manageable range, so those who know the bay say the waves may not be a factor in which way to point your boat.
“Surprisingly, the trollers will do well pulling Offshore boards. The last couple of years it’s been a lot of dominance with casting, but offshore boards will play a role this year. Right now the forecast for Friday looks very challenging but we’ll see what happens,”
Engebretsen said. “My daughter Julia gets to fish with me instead of Cole (his son), and hopefully we can do well in this one and bring home Team Of The Year. We’re now about 14 points behind the leader.
That leader, Scott Bleck, who also runs a 250 Yamaha, making it two who are possibly eligible for Yamaha Power Pay Team of the Year contingency money of a extra $5,000, was in his office in New London, but partner Jason Kicherer, also of Weyauwega, WI was on the bay starting Tuesday evening. Bleck was out over last weekend, he said, “so we hopefully should have a pretty good understanding about how the bay is setting up come Friday,” he said. He’ll be relying on his partner to pre-fish and will be there for Friday morning.
“There are some colleagues here that know Jason and I fish the AIM circuit and it’s ideal for us. We’re full-time employees and this format really does give us the opportunity to find the time and support.
“There are some who are rooting us on, and it’s just fun to have the opportunity to be a part of that prestigious top five to allow us to participate in the shootout (the AIM National Championship Shootout) next spring,” Bleck said.
“We’ve been very fortunate to find ourselves in that first place. We’ve found some success in just about every tournament and we’re looking forward to another opportunity to retain that position.
“The walleye migration from south to north is always something we try to stay on top of but also ultimately understanding the local fish that set up through mid-bay to Washington Island. If you can get on’em, it’s going to be a great bite.
Now, the team that set that AIM two-day bag record and did it casting, isn’t ruling out trolling either this time. That’s Jake Becker of Genoa City and partner Chris Rice of Burlington. Becker was leaving a bait shop before heading onto the water with his Yamaha 300-powered, Garmin LiveScope-equipped Warrior V208 Wednesday when reached. He’s sure that 112-plus is not just a pipe dream.
“It’s very possible. Maybe not from me but from someone. The fish are biting and there are a lot of big ones. I prefer jigging with Shiver Minnows, but I’m trying to be a little more versatile. We did both trolling and casting and caught fish both ways,” Becker said, so trolling also is in his wheelhouse this time. He’ll also be testing waters north of Marinette. That 112-pound AIM record came from the Door County area.
“It kinda comes down to the wind and how fish are set up on certain structures to see whether it makes more sense to cast than troll. I’m going to keep my options open,” he added. And as walleye anglers know, wind often helps the bite. “With not having a boundary we can go to Escanaba (in Michigan waters) if we want. We have to try to cover as much water as we can in the next couple of days and see if we can stay on them.”
But, Becker said, the team standing in first at the end of Saturday will have more than 100 pounds on their card.
We’ll see who’s got the magic Saturday when the awards ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at Menekaunee Harbor, which also is the site for both days where boats depart. It’s also where boat inspections take place both days starting at 5:30 a.m.
Follow the action, and who wins in Wisconsin that will cap another great AIM season at AIM’s Facebook page. Good luck all teams!
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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