Wind Will Be Aboard For AIM Field At Wineconne At Season’s Second Qualifier
Apr 22nd, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Apr 22nd, 2022 at 9:20 PM
Wind Will Be Aboard For AIM Field At Wineconne At Season’s Second Qualifier
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
Wind is sometimes a welcome passenger for walleye fishing, but in the case of Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Garmin Open Wisconsin Division qualifier at Winneconne, it may just be the exact opposite, causing teams to change tactics and locations.
“It may be a mite sporty on parts of the Wolf River Chain of Lakes despite temperatures in the 60s and reports of fish on the move both up and downstream,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “But there are tons of fish in the system, and there are places to hide from the blow for our teams. How they will shake hands with the right five walleye will tell the tale of what happens at the awards ceremony Sunday afternoon.”
Agreeing with that assessment is Rich Caryl of Eagle, who grew up on this system that feeds Lake Winnebago from the west at Oshkosh. Caryl is fishing with Tim Immel of Appleton in a 300 Yamaha (they’re signed up to be eligible for Yamaha Power Pay incentive payouts) with Garmin Panoptix aboard.
Caryl reports the system is mid-spawn right now, slowed a bit by last week’s weather fronts.
“Last week we were still catching females. So it’s going to be an interesting weekend especially with the wind,” Caryl said. “You’re going to have people drift jigging in the river and if they can get on the lake there’ll probably still be some decent sizes on Poygan, maybe even Winneconne and in Oshkosh too. You’re kind of coming into post-spawn transition areas in all these, but you’ve still got some going upstream last week.”
If you’re unfamiliar with all that, a primer is in order: Lake Poygan literally blends into Lake Winneconne, with the Wolf River flowing into both from the north, kinda.
Below the town of Winneconne is Lake Butte des Morts (means Hill of the Dead in French). Just about there, Lake Poygan/Wolf River/Lake Winneconne/Lake Butte des Morts becomes the Fox River, one of several so-named in Wisconsin, which flows into Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh. Got it? Thought so. Let’s continue.
Anyway, Caryl plans to hide from the winds somewhere in the rivers. And he’s expecting quite a bit of company.
When AIM visited last April, the cash was snagged by father-daughter team Engebretson in the lower Fox River. In 2020, trolling and using leeches on Butte des Morts did it, but with the continued cold and that wind that will be bringing temps in the 60s, bets are still bending towards the river.
But, as Caryl said, the lakes could be in play if the weather cooperates a bit.
“This time of year, you’ll get fish that will fan out in the mouth of Poygan and into Clarks Bay (yup, another name, this time the northeast part of Winneconne)
“They’re (as in a lot of walleye) making their way back to the lake,” so he’s expecting teams to be trolling, anchoring and jigging and drifting in the river(s), and in Clarks Bay at the “mouth” of Poygan if weather allows.
“Females will go there because the water usually gets warmer and a lot of bait fish will go there. You can usually catch good fish into May,” he added.
Now, what about the Wolf? Remember that one? Go up six paragraphs. If you don’t, you’re missing a great spot to fish, and one where this event has been won before.
“There’ll be a lot of boats headed up that way, and there’s a no wake rule, so it’s going to take maybe an hour just to get to Fremont by boat,” he said. The reason many will be going there is that the rafts locals moor along the Wolf’s banks are still producing fish.
Caryl said to expect lots of fish will be in that 14- to 17-inch range. It’s also a good bet, however, that a few teams will find nice pods of fish, evidenced by two tournaments last weekend, when 18 and 12 pounds won.
“To win, you’ll still need 12 to 15 pounds. I could be wrong. If you look back in history, it’s usually right around there,” he said. “Only time will tell.”
One of the other 90 teams on the water Sunday will be Tyler Mueller of Appleton, and his father Todd, also of Appleton, who’s won many times on this system.
Todd was out on Thursday, and described conditions with one word: horrible.
“The wind has been so strong the last two days and they’re calling for more tomorrow (Friday), and on tournament day, 30 from the southwest, with higher possible,” he said.
In some pro walleye circles, that’s a bit off perfect, but not too far. “I truly think that’s going to be the story. Getting across Lake Poygan is going to be treacherous. It’s not the big rollers, it’s the whitecaps and water. I just got off Winneconne now and there’s four-footers,” he said.
Now he’s less affected by this, but still wary. He’s piloting a V208 Warrior powered by a 300 Mercury Verado, and if he does well, is eligible to cash in on the Warrior Tournament Cash incentive program. He’s also running Garmin LiveScope in the electronics mix.
“I’m glad I spent every dollar on it the last two days. There’s no comparison to that Warrior,” Todd Mueller said. He also suspects the majority of teams will stick to the more protected rivers.
“There’ll be teams drifting, dragging crawlers, and some spotlocking, vertical jigging and maybe some anchored and pumping jigs. But a lot of times you can’t keep your bow mount running all day. Sunday will be a test of equipment. Smaller boats too may be limited to the river right in Winneconne. If you get to Poygan it may be wild. Safety comes first.
“I fished a spot yesterday that was conducive to fish (translation: he caught potential winners), but it won’t be on Sunday. You won’t be able to get there,” he said.
I’m gonna say 15 pounds will win it. Most of the 17-inchers are like two pounds so it’s going to be close. I don’t think you’re going to see too many weights in that range. I know some guys who are fishing the rafts, probably one of the best spots on the river (clarification: the Wolf), and they did really well. That’s a week ago so they could be in Winnebago already (Oshkosh).”
All clear? Let’s see. Ranging fish, some still heading up to spawn, others heading down to ‘bago. A windy Sunday for the 90 boats entered. But lots of opportunities in two rivers that are actually the same river(!) and maybe two lakes that are actually the same lake(!), to catch those five winners that will take home not only AIM prize cash, but those points that will bring someone closer to that coveted Wisconsin Yamaha Team Of The Year prize.
All we can say is, good luck, stay safe, and may the best strategy win, because it will, with a little luck.
Here’s Sunday’s run of show: boat inspections at the Winneconne city docks is from 5:30 to 6:45 a.m. The first flight of boats takes off at 7 a.m., with the second 15 minutes later. Boats must return starting at 3 p.m., with the second flight 15 minutes later. Awards will be presented starting at 5 p.m. at Woodeyes Bar & Grill in Winneconne.
Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook page for updates from Winneconne, and register for all events at AIM’s website.
You know you want to. You know you can.
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, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Marinette, WI, Explore Alexandria, Rosemore Outdoor Gear