NWT Insider Preview: Lake Winnebago
Category: News Release
May 9th, 2016 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 9th, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Winnebago primed for season’s second National Walleye Tour event
by Brett Carlson
OSHKOSH, Wis. – After an incredible catch and record-setting participation at the season-opening Cabela’s National Walleye Tour event on Lake Erie, the most lucrative tournament trail in walleye fishing heads to Wisconsin May 26-27 with major momentum on its side. Lake Winnebago, which hosted the 2014 NWT Championship, is at its peak in late May and early June, which means the timing for the second qualifier of the year couldn’t be better.
“It’s definitely prime time,” said Berkley pro Korey Sprengel. “The whole system, all the lakes, could come into play. And it’s usually the time where we see the biggest weights of the year.”
“The fish are migrating back towards Winnebago for the summer,” said Bone Collector-Hardcore pro Jason Przekurat, fresh off a fifth-place finish at Erie. “The water is warming and they are really strapping on the feed bag. The whole system has the potential to hold the winning fish and that should really spread the field out. It’s perfect timing.”
Sprengel won the 2014 championship and he grew up fishing Lake Winnebago. Nonetheless, he still he has to do his homework as Winnebago changes quickly with weather conditions, specifically wind.
“The great thing about Winnebago, especially that time of year, is how diverse it is,” he explained. “It can be won absolutely anywhere doing just about anything. But I don’t think anyone on Winnebago has much of a home-water advantage. You have to evaluate the weather and fish the structure that the conditions are right for. If the wind changes, you need to change because those fish will vacate those areas very fast. The good news is that there’s always fish biting on Winnebago somewhere. That time of year the fish are just absolutely feeding.”
Sprengel outlined four patterns that tend to produce at the end of May.
“There’s always a good trolling bite on the mud flats in the upper lakes (Lake Poygan, Winneconne, and Butte Des Morts) as they migrate through. There’s a mud bite on the deeper basin of the main lake too. There should be a good bite on the east shore rocks, either jigging or trolling. And there’s probably going to be one at the river mouth; there’s just so many fish funneling through. It makes for a great intercepting point.”
Przekurat agreed and mentioned that an angler can explore the endless possibilities or simply fish his strength.
“You can jig, rig, cast cranks, troll, whatever. Winnebago suits everyone’s specialty. The one thing might surprise people is that there’s going to be a lot of shallow fish. It may look like carp water, but there could be 4-pound walleyes swimming in it.”
Both Sprengel and Przekurat pointed to one specific bait that will play a major role.
“There’s a very good chance it will be won on a Flicker Shad, either casting or trolling,” said Sprengel. “On Winnebago, the Flicker Shads are just dynamite. With the action and the high-pitched rattles, it’s perfect for Winnebago’s dirtier water.”
“Flicker Shads have dominated the system since they came out,” added Przekurat. “And now there’s the option of Flicker Minnows in size 5 and size 7.”
Sprengel won in 2014 by jigging rocks and weeds with a PowerBait Rib Worm on the south end of the lake. This year, he doesn’t think that will be an option as the weeds likely won’t be full-grown. Each time he fishes Winnebago for a tournament, he approaches it like he’s learning a new lake all over again.
“The one thing I know, is that on Winnebago, you need absolutely every rod you have.”
Sprengel and Przekurat agreed that the winning weight for two days will be approximately 45 pounds.
“The lake is really healthy right now,” concluded Przekurat. “This will be one heck of a tournament.”
Anglers will take off each day at 7 a.m. Central time from Miller’s Bay/Menominee Park. The daily weigh-ins will also take place at Miller’s Bay/Menominee Park, beginning at 3 p.m. The full field fishes each day with the winner in each division being determined by the heaviest cumulative weight.
The National Walleye Tour consists of three regular-season events and a year-end championship. Each regular season event is a two-day, pro-am tournament and delivers over a 100 percent payback. Pros compete against other pros, and co-anglers compete against other co-anglers.
Registration is ongoing for the Lake Winnebago event. The deadline for guaranteed entry (by signing up with a pro or co-angler) is May 10. Registration can be taken over the phone at 501-794-2064 or online by visiting www.nationalwalleyetour.com/tournaments/register/. For more information on rules and tournament payouts, visit www.nationalwalleyetour.com.