FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2019
Rain Monday and Tuesday have swelled an already over-the-top high Wolf River at Winneconne for Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Nitro Boats Open, and all that extra precip, and the potential for more on Saturday joining the spring runoff will make the trip against the river’s current even slower due to emergency regs now in effect.
“Spring tournaments on the Wolf system are always interesting and challenging, to say the least, and this one will be no exception,” said AIM National Tournament Director Denny Fox. “The winter snow and now rain have imposed an emergency slow, no-wake rule on the entire lower river, and not just the usual limit of within 500 feet of a dwelling. The no-wake rule extends all the way to Fremont, the first seven miles of river.
“That means anyone making the trip upstream to where the event was won last year near Fremont may take as long as two to three hours before they even put a rod in their hands,” said Fox. “That won’t leave much time to find fish, but for those who do, it may mean winning some cash, or not. All that mix is why AIM loves this system.
“It may all come down to who’s going to choose wisely, and whether you’re a gambler, one who plays it safe, or a team who knows that little bit extra that takes you to the podium steps,” Fox said.
Flood stage on the Wolf is nine feet, and at midweek it was over 10, and climbing, he added.
There’s a good chance of rain again Saturday night, which will add more water and twists to the decision always facing anglers here this time of year: go upriver after the fish everyone knows are there, go downriver after some Lake Winnebago residents, or hope to tickle some lurkers in the backwaters of Poygan and flooded marshes of Butte des Morts.
One who didn’t want to tip his hand too much about where he’s heading is Nick Heelein of Genoa City, WI, who also knows that this time of year, you’ve got to be ready for anything and any technique that can get you to the podium.
Heelein guides a lot on the Fox River and at last year’s AIM tourney, placed seventh on the Wolf. He’s looking for high, high water conditions.
“ It’s already tough and it’s just going to get tougher. The water on the river’s higher than I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s fast, and the fishing has been horrible,” “Heelein said. Now, Nick, tell us what you REALLY think!
“There was a tournament this past weekend near Fremont. There may have been 63 boats, and I believe there were nine fish caught. The winning weight was five or six pounds,” he said. “They launched in and stayed in the river, so it’s not like they went into the lakes.”
And if that gives you a hint about where he’s thinking the second AIM Wisconsin Division 2019 tournament may be won, you may be right.
He’s guessing most of the biggies are still upriver in the flooded areas near Shiocton. A recent video was produced by The Reel Shot in Appleton showing the Wisconsin DNR on a tagging survey near that town and posted at AIM’s Facebook page. It showed lots of fish being electro- shocked and released. But, there’s that current, and the limited fishing time resulting for anyone dealing with that no-wake rule. That’s why he’s looking downstream.
“I’d be surprised if any boats go up. A lot I think will be fishing the lower lakes and a lot will be going into Winnebago looking for lake fish,” he predicted. And, that predicted new rain won’t help the cause.
“The water will be extremely dirty and that’s why guys will be focusing on lakes. I’m sure there will be some going into the river, but personally I don’t think it’s a very good plan,” he added. “We fished the lake last year and didn’t go into the river and did okay.”
Heelein predicts it will take about 14 pounds to win. “It might surprise me. I know we’re going to have a cold front Saturday and the temperatures will drop 30 some degrees (NOAA predicts a high of 66 or so Thursday, and pushing 50 by Sunday), so I think you’re going to have to be pitching.”
He also said he’s planning to bring along some fly rigs that are popular in the system in spring. However keeping them debris-free in the high water may be a problem. Lots to think about and plan for, in other words.
“We’ll also bring three-way rigs,” Heelein said. “In the Winnebago system you’ve pretty much got to bring everything. The bite will be extremely tough, and there will be a lot who I don’t think will do as well as they have been. The team who comes in with five decent fish will make it.”
Another who will be out pounding the water Sunday is Gary Staral of West Bend, who is also looking at that predicted rain and with maybe just for fun, a little snow possibly mixed in. He’ll be pre-fishing starting Friday, plans on connecting with his local contacts beforehand, and also is questioning the wisdom of running upriver.
“I’m expecting high water so you’ve got to have your timing down (if you make that slow run). You’ll have an hour or so of fishing, tops, and you’re gambling, so I have a feeling there are going to be a lot more fishing the breaks and holes,” he said.
Unlike Heelein, Staral feels the spawn may have already peaked, and fish will be heading downstream and hanging in those rest areas, and possibly cruising the lakes. “I would suspect with the weather we’ve had, they’re on the downhill slide and they’ll be hitting the lakes. I could be all wrong, however,” Staral laughed.
“It’s also hit or miss. That’s what fishing still is no matter what you think. You think you know it and it will change the next day. Saturday is supposed to be colder with a chance of snow and that could change the whole pattern, so we’re set for anything. You have to be flexible and be willing to change; you can’t get stuck in a rut.”
Teams may also have to contend with weekend anglers in force at community spots Sunday, or not, depending on that water, and the weather. Regardless of what they choose, here’s what all teams need to know.
Team registration will be at the event sponsor, Woodeyes Bar and Grill in Winneconne starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27. The rules meeting follows immediately after.
Sunday’s boat inspection begins at 5:30 a.m. at the Winneconne city dock, and the first flight takes off at 7 a.m. Boats must be back at the launch for check-in starting at 3 p.m. Awards will take place at Woodeyes beginning at 5 p.m. Good luck to all teams!
For updates on the water all day Sunday through Garmin Fish and Hunt, go to our Facebook page, and for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register, go to our website.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIMTM) 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.
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