Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FLW Red Wing - Days 1 & 2

I went to bed Wednesday night knowing that I had good fish going and if everything went right, I was going to have a chance! Knowing that also made for a sleepless night!

Conditions were good at our 6:30 takeoff with rain in the forecast for the afternoon. I was boat 92 out of 109. I made it up to Lock and Dam #3 as the third boat with one more boat behind me. Any doubts of being able to fish my spots went away and I could not wait to get through this lock and up to my number 1 spot!

I made it to my first spot a little after 7 AM. Within minutes we had a fat 22 inch walleye in the boat casting a crank bait and I was feeling good! It didn't take long for fish number 2 and 3 to be in the boat, unfortunately they were only 16" and 17-1/2 inches. The rules allowed for 5 fish to be weighed. Once you put your 7th fish in the live well you are done as no culling is allowed. I was surprised to catch two fish in this area under 20 inches as I had not caught one while pre-fishing. I was conservative and decided to put them both in the live well. It was about 8:30 and I decided to stick with my plan and hop to another spot.

I went down river about one half of a mile and on my first pass I had what I wanted, a beautiful, fat, 27 inch walleye. When that thing hit the net I was hopping around the boat like Daffy Duck. I gained my composure and made another pass which resulted in an 18-1/2 inch walleye. It was again decision time but I decided to put this one in the live well hoping that it would be my smallest fish of the day. I had my limit by 9 AM and I guessed I had about 15 pounds. This was Ok but to have a chance to be in the top 10 I knew I needed to be in the 20 pound range.

I continued to fish my second spot with no luck and started hopping spots. We continued to catch fish but they were 16-18 inches so we let them go. Finally around noon my co-angler, Jesse, says "I think I got one". I turned around and looked at his rod and knew it was a good one. Jesse played the fish perfectly and I slid the Frabill net under a 23 inch walleye. Oh did that feel good! With this fish we had 27, 23, 22, 18-1/2 and a 17-1/2. Our estimate was 19-20 pounds.

One more good fish and we are really dealing! Unfortunately, we could not get an upgrade. When we went through the locks this morning the lock master informed us that a barge was due to be at the lock around noon. It was 1:30 and that barge had not gone by us. Knowing that a barge can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours (worst case) I made the decision to lock through to pool 4. With a 19 pound plus basked I did not want to risk being late.

We still had a couple hours of fishing which we spent checking out big fish spots. Unfortunately, we did not get another fish so we headed to the weigh our fish. Rain had moved in around 2 PM and was coming down harder as we waited in the harbor. I did not care as I had my new Frabill Stormsuit and 19 pounds in the live well!

The five walleyes weighed in at 19.12 pounds and we ended the day in 12th place. Of the 109 boats 5 total locked up to pool 3, three of us were in the top 12. I love those odds!


I didn't think it was possible but I actually slept worse than I did the night before! I knew conditions were changing. The water was coming up which was increasing the current. The temperature dropped and the wind was forecasted to come out of the Northeast. Someone who has a lot more experience than I told me this was the worst wind for the style of fishing I was doing. I still felt confident as you can see in the interview I gave for Steve at WalleyeFirst WalleyeFirst Roy Vivian.

The order of boats went in reverse order and I was the 19th boat to takeoff. As I turned the corner I saw one of my worst nightmares, a boat tower in the lock! Uh Oh! In my interview with Walleye First I did not mention a barge in the lock as being a threat. Unfortunately, the barge had just arrived and we were not going up river anytime soon! Any time you use a lock in a tournament risk is involved. Plan B was in action and I started fishing areas that were close to the lock.

We jigged the West side of the river below the dam and then went to the east side, nothing! We then tried casting jigs and crank baits to the rocks along the Minnesota side. We caught a ton of fish but they were white and smallmouth bass. I spoke with someone later who caught a 7 pounder in an area that was also invested with white and smallmouth bass. He said you had to catch all of those fish first before you could the bait down to the walleyes. We tried but we had no walleyes to show for our efforts.

Finally, what seemed forever, the barge was through the lock and we entered. It was 8:05 and I was anxious to say the least. Once through I made a mad dash to my spot. I arrived at my spot about 8:30. Even though I had 3 fish by this time the day before I was still confident. 

Just like the day before, almost immediately, we had a nice walleye in the boat. The 23 incher came in the same spot on the same crank bait. Now that made me feel better but catching another fish became a struggle. It was evident early that the water had risen and the current had increased. The north wind didn't help as it also increased the flow.

Finally, around 10:30 I caught a 17-1/2" walleye. Not exactly what I was looking for but it helped. It was becoming obvious that I was not able to control my boat like I did the day before. I lost close to 10 rigs. I don't think I lost one in the previous 5 days of fishing! After breaking off for the third time I knew I was in trouble!

I tried everything I could think of including anchoring but to no avail. I was extremely frustrated and did my best to keep my composure. I decided to head to the lock around 1:30 and began jigging the main channel in Pool 4. I was hoping to fill out my limit with 2-3 pounders in the middle of the channel. I didn't think this would get me in the top 10 but at least it would salvage a check. 

I caught a walleye that barely measured 15 inches and I put that in the live well as quick as I could. That fish would end up being worth $2000. I did not catch another fish and went to the weigh-in with my tail between my legs.

My weight ended up at 7-1/2 pounds and somehow I finished 26th which was good enough to cash a check as they paid out the top 30 boats. I wasn't the only one who struggled as a number of anglers who had a big weight on day 1 couldn't follow it up with a good day 2. That is not unusual in a river tournament especially when conditions are changing and fish are in transition. The old saying "here today and gone tomorrow" certainly was the case for many. 

I finished about 5 pounds out of the top 10 which was really disappointing! I knew I was on the right fish, I just could not adapt to the changing conditions. I certainly learned from my failure and I am confident that I will be a better fisherman because of my experience. That doesn't mean I was happy! Opportunities to be in the top 10 with a chance to win do not come around often and I feel like I let one slip away. 

One of the reasons I love tournament fishing is because I feel the same emotions that I did when I played baseball. I hated losing then and I hate losing now. If I had a bad day on the diamond I could not wait for the next game. I feel the same now and can't wait for the next tournament!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

FLW Red Wing - Pre-Fishing Summary

The FLW Mississippi River in Red Wing is in the books. I had a good first day, 12th after day one but a disappointing day 2 dropped me to 26th. I did cash a check which is always nice but you will see why I am disappointed. I know this is old news and I wish I could post a pre-fishing report during pre-fishing but it is hard enough for me to find fish, I don't need to help out anybody else! Here is how pre-fishing went:

I arrived in Red Wing late Friday night, April 20 and was anxious to hit the water. On Saturday morning I was joined by Chad Setterholm who lives in the Minneapolis area. The first day is a relaxed day as I am just trying to get a feel for the river conditions. Chad, pictured above, was the first to strike with this scrapper he caught jigging, the skunk was out of the boat!

Shortly after I caught this 16 inch female that was still full of eggs. We were in a spawning area that generally holds big fish. I lost what seemed to be a nice walleye shortly after this fish but we decided to move on with the thought that these fish would be spawned out by the first day of the tournament on Thursday.

We spent the rest of the day fishing areas that we hoped would hold large, post spawn, walleyes. I checked out numerous areas in the back channels and at the head of Lake Pepin. I have had success in these areas in the past, however the low water and flow made finding fish difficult. We did catch several more throughout the day including one nice one. It was clear the low flow had fish spread out. Covering water was going to be key to finding the right fish.


When I fish major tournaments I am always trying to find spots that are off of the beaten path. The tournament was out of Red Wing and Pool 4. However, pool 3 (up to Prescott) and pool 5 were both in play. I have never fished pool 3 but I thought having to go through the lock would discourage most from fishing the pool. 

There were about 10 other boats that had the same thoughts as I did which still leaves plenty of elbow room. Chad and I spent most of the morning looking for big fish in Buffalo Slough. We didn't have a keeper until around 11 AM when we caught several males that were around 15 inches, not exactly what we were looking for! I did lose one really nice fish on a jig and plastic. We stuck around to see if we could get one in the boat with no luck.

Around 1 PM we decided to concentrate on the main river channel. We were really struggling and by 3:30 we had not caught another keeper. I decided to try a different method and started my pass. I must say I was not expecting anything when the 22 inch walleye pictured below absolutely slammed my bait.

Now that got my attention. This fish was a tournament walleye, fat and aggressive, exactly what I would need on tournament days. After a quick photo and measurement I put her back in the water and made another pass. I recreated my last pass and before I could even hope for another fish another one crushed Chad's bait in the exact same spot! In the picture below Chad is holding this fat 25-1/2 incher.

Holy crap, I was really excited. This fish was close to 6 pounds with the other one weighing 4 pounds. There was a boat nearby so we left as covertly as we could. I knew I was on to something but it was almost 4:30 and I had to get Chad back to his truck. I would have to come back up later in the week to see if what I found was a reliable pattern.


The weather forecast for Monday was nasty and they were right on! If I had indeed found the fish I was looking for on Sunday, I was going to have to find some spots between the takeoff and the lock so I decided to fish the upper section of Pool 4. I got to the ramp at 7 AM. It was raining/sleeting and 40 degrees with a horrible wind out of the North. Normally there would be 25 plus boats at the landing, I was the second one. I guess I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer!

I headed up to the dam and fished the sand on the Wisconsin side of the channel. I barely got my jig and plastic down and caught a 16 incher. About 5 minutes later I had this 25 plus incher slam my jig and plastic!

I guess I shouldn't be shocked, river walleyes aren't as moody as their lake cousins. I ended up catching an 18 inch pre-spawn sauger on the next pass. Fishing was pretty easy but I was worried that a lot of the fish near the dam would begin to migrate down river by tournament day so I went exploring.

The rain stopped and the boats began to show up, most of which were trolling lead core on the flats and in the main channel. I caught several fish the rest of the day but nothing like I had caught on Sunday. I am sure there was an occasional nice fish being caught but I knew there would be a ton of boats fishing fighting over the same fish. This gave me more confidence, the rest of the week I was going to be in Pool 3.

Tuesday and Wednesday

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday refining my pattern. I looked for similar spots with the hope of putting together a milk run of spots. Much of both days were unproductive fishing wise, but extremely valuable as I was able to eliminate areas. If I went into an area that had fish I knew it right away. These fish were aggressive and the right size. I am not sure how many fish I caught on Tuesday but I caught quite a few with my best five weighing around 20 pounds. I found 7-8 similar spots that were holding the "right" fish and my confidence was riding high going into the tournament.

I went to the rules meeting and there was a lot of discussion on what it would take to make the cut. I knew some were struggling when they thought that 12-1/2 pounds a day would make the cut. I was hoping they were right but I thought that it was going to take 20 pounds on day one with something similar on day two. If they were right I was confident that I was going to be really happy after Thursday!

Next: Tournament Days

Thursday, April 5, 2012

MWC 2012 IL River - Recap

The first tournament of the year is in the books. Overall pre-fishing went well and the weather was unbelievable. Now it was time to see if we could we could execute our plan!

Day 1

Our hopes were high as we waited for takeoff in the fog. The temperature was in the upper 40's at takeoff which was cooler than it had been but still well above normal for this time of year. The water was up slightly with increased current. Isolated storms had hit up river on Friday which added debris and muddied the water. By Illinois River standards in the spring the river was still in great shape.

We were boat 66 and headed down river which is where most boats headed. We set up on the downstream side of a flat that is about a mile long. This area was no secret with almost half of the field fishing this area. We were prepared for company and hoped that we could fish inside the majority of the boats. We immediately caught fish as we trolled lead core in and out of boats. By the end of our first pass we had 3 keepers but nothing of any significance.

On our second pass we caught our biggest fish of the day, an 18-1/2" sauger that had spawned out. This was still a good fish but it really would have helped us if she was still carrying her eggs. We motored on weaving in and out of boats and caught a nice 17-1/2" sauger that was full of eggs. We were feeling pretty good at this point knowing that it was 8:30 and we had our limit. We were confident that we would be able to upgrade fish all day.

It was becoming apparent that the most productive spot was the last 200 yards of our mile run. Almost every time through this spot the story was the same, we would catch one or two and the inside rod would get hung up. Early on this was not an issue as most boats were fishing below this area. This soon would change as other boats in the area noticed we and other boats would catch one.

On our next pass everything was the same except there were more boats in this 200 yard stretch, most were jigging or using 3 ways. We were trolling in the opposite direction and going significantly faster. Like clockwork the back inside rod goes off and Mark reels in 1 16-1/2" sauger. I netted the fish when I looked up and noticed the back outside rod had a fish. Mark grabs the rod and says "good fish"! As I am working on the fish in the net the hook gets caught in the net. Mark is confirming it is a good fish and I look at the inside rod and it is in the, you know you are in the right spot, snag. Add in me trying to drive through 15 some boats and you have quite the fire drill. I get the fish and the lure out of the net, point the boat so we don't ram anyone and Mark cuts the motor. There must have been slack in the line for just a moment and the fish got off.

We had been slowing up for big fish but not stopping the motor. Mark did everything he could but with me panicking and both of trying to stay out of the way of others the fish took advantage and was gone. We will never know how big but Mark was sure it would have significantly helped us.

We continued on and the fishing slowed. We were still catching fish but not as fast or as big. It was 1:30 and we had to be back by 3. We decided to make one more pass. As usual we caught a fish in the last 200 yards but we also had two lines tangled. While Mark untangled the lines I decided to jig through the spot that was holding fish. I was fishing for maybe 2 minutes when one crushed my plastic. It wasn't huge but it was an upgrade. Unfortunately, this fish sealed our fate. Mark and I jigged through the area several times with nothing to show for our work. We were going to head to our secondary spot after our last pass but the time we spent jigging made that run impossible. This would turn out to be a big mistake.

We ended up weighing 8.73 pounds which was good for 39th place. Disappointing but, as expected, it was a crap shoot and only one team had over 12 pounds.

Day 2

Day 2 was a little slower for us to start. We caught 3 keepers within 15 minutes but before and after we were struggling. It was 11 o'clock and we decided to make the run that we were going to yesterday. We setup and instantly caught a fish and ended up with 3 more keepers on the first run. The bite up river probably slowed down due to the pressure. The fish in this spot had little pressure with only a couple of boats occasionally coming through and they were on a feeding frenzy.

We ended up catching 17-20 keepers on the day, I am not for sure as it was hard to keep track. The fish were all around 17 inch females with eggs and looked like clones. If we would have come down on Saturday we would have upgraded two fish as we weighed a 16-1/4" and 16-1/2" sauger. In most tournaments that is not a big deal, in this tournament it is a really big deal. When we were waiting to weigh in I used a culling board and scale to determine our best five fish. We had two that were slightly bigger but the other seven fish in the live well were identical in weight. Oh if we could have had those two yesterday!

We ended up with almost an identical weight with 8.63 pounds and moved up to 36th which was 6 spots and less that one half of a pound out of the money. We were only a pound and a half out of the top 10. Mark is convinced and I agree that if we would have spent more time at the power plant we would have cashed a check. The fish that got off on Saturday would have probably done the same! In this tournament there are a lot of teams that have similar stories which is probably why we can't wait to do it again!

Mark and I had a blast even though we didn't do as well as we had hoped. There are a lot of characters that fish these tournaments and it is fun giving each other a hard time. We did that for sure and laughed along the way. It was great to see the sportsmanship too as there were a lot of boats fishing close to each other. All of the boats were courteous which is always great to see. I was also impressed with my new Lund 1875 Pro V. If you have ever fished lead core in a group of boats using different tactics you know how tough it can be to control the boat. I was able to slide in and out of boats using my wireless remote on the front trolling motor without a single incident. One of the great things about the Lund 1875 Pro V is it is small enough to maneuver in tight traffic yet big enough to handle big water!

Another MWC Illinois River is in the books and I can't wait for next years!

Up next, the FLW opener on the Mississippi River in Red Wing!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

IL River Pre-Fishing Re-Cap

The first tournament of the year, MWC IL River, is in the books. We finished 36th out of 154 boats which was a bit disappointing but we were only five spots and less than 1/2 a pound out of the money. Here is a recap of how our pre-fishing went.

New MWC Partner

For the first time I would not be fishing an MWC event with Scott Pirnstill, aka Shooter. Shooter had a scheduling conflict and was unable to fish. In his place Mark Michael, pictured above with a walleye he caught on the IL River last year while pre-fishing, an accomplished tournament angler and one of my fishing mentors. The IL River is Mark's home water and he knows it well even though he says that the IL River is not one of his favorite places to fish.


The first day on the water with a new boat is a special day. Much of Saturday was spent breaking in the Verado 200 on the new Lund 1875 Pro V. Mark did a great job rigging the boat and I am loving the new ride! We did get a chance to get in some fishing as we hoped to find a good bite for the Illinois Walleye Trail (IWT) opener the following day. The river was in unprecedented condition for this time of year with water temperatures of over 60 degrees, they would rise all the way to 68 degrees for the MWC opener! After some searching we found some active, decent sized fish down at the clam beds. Ol' Shooter came down for the weekend with his son Boston. Shooter and Boston caught 2 saugers over 20 inches in the same area. Fish like those have been hard to come by in recent years so committing to the clam beds for the IWT opener was a no brainer!

Sunday IWT

The fishing was pretty good but it was pretty obvious that the bigger fish moved. The water was slowly dropping and it appears the fish moved to other areas with current conditions that fit their needs. Ol' Shooter and Boston, pictured above, did a little better than we did finishing 31st out of 71. Mark and I finished 41st. We caught plenty of fish but we just could not find the bigger fish. Adam Sandor, owner of the IWT, and his staff did a great job. I was not unhappy with our finish, sure we would have liked to do better but our main goal was to prepare for the MWC. We learned a lot on the water and were excited about the week to come!


I spent Monday with the outdoors writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dale Bowman (pictured above with a small male sauger). I enjoy fishing with Dale, he has a great sense of humor. He told me that one of the main reasons he moved to Chicago was from a visit he had when he was in college. He and some friends were in the bleachers at Comiskey Park drinking beer with Harry Carey and Jimmy Piersall. He thought that was pretty neat and said this is my kind of town. I love it! Dale also is an advocate for the outdoors and shines the light on the good and the bad. There aren't many outdoor writers in the newspaper business left which is a shame. I encourage anyone who likes the outdoors to read his articles and listen to his show on public radio, Outside with Dale Bowman. Here is the link to his article about our day http://www.suntimes.com/sports/outdoors/11424689-452/a-march-unlike-any-other-for-chicago-fishing.html.

I met Dale at 7AM at Time On the Water Outdoors. A storm was coming in and lighting was everywhere. I pulled up the radar on my cell phone and it appeared if we went up river we might miss the storm. Dale agreed and we ran up river to the dam. I had a plan setup for down river where we would have caught a lot of fish. I needed to check out places up river anyway and thought we would be able to catch our share. Things did not work out that way as we caught everything but a sauger upriver. After trying numerous spots it was 11:20 and we still did not have a sauger. Dale had to be dropped off at the landing by noon. If I spend a morning with the outdoor writer for the Sun-Times and catch zero saugers I am going to get the business from the boys! I setup in the middle of the river on the Peru flats. Luckily there were male saugers who were willing to bite and we caught 4 in about 20 minutes.

I dropped Dale off at Barto Landing and headed back up river. I knew if males were in the area I should be able to find some female saugers. Sure enough, on the first pass after I dropped off Dale I caught a couple of nice females, including the one above. Oh well, that's fishing! I actually learned quite a bit and felt the pieces to the puzzle were coming together.


I was alone all day as Mark was going to start pre-fishing with me on Wednesday. The area that I wanted to take Dale was absolutely on fire. I can't remember how many fish I caught, including the one above, but it was a lot and they were absolutely hammering my jig and plastic.

I went to three different spots and the story was the same aggressive saugers like the one above. I am pretty confident that my best 5 fish would have weighed close to 12 pounds which I knew would be a big weight in the tournament. Two problems, one the tournament is four days away, two this is hardly a secret spot and fishing pressure will be an issue. I spent the rest of the day fishing spots downriver without much success.


Mark and I ran up to the dam and tried pitching jigs shallow. We caught a couple but they were small and we decided that we would spend the rest of the week fishing from Peru south. I wanted to show Mark the areas where I hammered them the day before. We jigged for nearly 3 hours without 1 sauger to show for our efforts. Mark says he likes jigging but he definitely would rather do some sort of trolling program. Vertical jigging is somewhat of an art and Mark and I have philosophic differences on just about every level, especially jig size and color. I don't think either philosophy is wrong it is just what we have confidence in doing. Regardless, I knew if I could show him how these fish were inhaling the plastics that he would agree it was the way to go. Mark had been on me big time about trolling lead core and I was dead set against the idea. I knew I could find the fish jigging I just needed to spend the time jigging but Mark was getting restless.

I finally gave in and we made one trolling pass which took about 30 minutes. It was only fitting that we hammered them catching 10 fish on that first pass with our best 5 weighing around 11 pounds. Mark was smiling ear to ear while I was shaking my head. I knew that we would not be jigging in the tournament as we tore them up the rest of the day. The fish had moved in shallower than we had been jigging and trolling was much more efficient way to cover water.

Thursday and Friday

My buddy Bad Brad Munda joined us for the final two days of pre-fishing. We put in at Hennepin and tried numerous spots down river with little success. We stopped at the Hennepin flats and caught several males jigging. We went to the other side of the river and caught a couple of decent females but not as big as we had caught the last couple of days. The wind was blowing pretty good making boat control a little difficult. I was keeping my jigs vertical but the boys in the back of the boat were getting on me pretty good because their baits were not. Bad Brad noticed right away that any comment that he made about boat control was getting under my skin and getting a chuckle from Mark so they really gave it to me. I almost dropped them off on shore but I decided I would troll lead core which I knew would make them happy.

The next two days we checked our spots and tried new ones. We were starting to notice a larger percentage of female saugers that we were catching were spawned out which was a bit of a concern. We knew this tournament was going to be a shootout and every ounce was going to matter.

We had put in the time and our lead core program was working. We knew the area we were fishing was going to be full of boats. We were fishing shallower and faster than most so we were confident that we would be able to navigate through the armada of boats. Our spots were locked in and we were optimistic about our chances!

Next - Tournament Days

Monday, March 12, 2012

IL State Record Walleye - Pecatonica River Strikes Again!

When Rockford Auburn freshman Nick Tassoni caught a 14.75 lb walleye on January 7, 2012 most were shocked that the Pecatonica River held such a fish. Nick's fish broke a record that had stood for 50 years. Two months later a new record walleye weighing 15.06 lbs. by Jim Zimmerman out of the same stretch of the Pecatonica River.

If one were to quiz fisherman across the state where the next state record walleye would have come from one would hear Lake Michigan, the Kankakee River (which held the record for 50 years), the Mississippi River and maybe the Rock River as a sleeper. If one were to quiz fisherman in Stephenson and Winnebago county one would have heard the Pec, as the locals call it, from a lot of people. This includes Dan Palmer, tournament director for the MWC, who has been telling this to anybody who would listen!

I have been fishing the Pec as long as I can remember as it rolls through my hometown of Freeport, IL. The stretch of river where the two record fish were caught are less than 5 miles away from my grandparents farm and I fished it often. The Pec does not have the best reputation because, like many other rivers in the MidWest, industry abused the river by dumping their waste into the river. Burgess Battery in Freeport was one of the biggest abusers, when it was running and for many years after it closed. Their waste lingered, polluting the river and the area around the plant before finally being cleaned up. The river is also muddy for most of the year as it flows through fertile farmland.

The Pec is known for it's excellent cat fishing and it is loaded with rough fish most notably the common carp. The locals also know it as a producer of big walleyes. Every spring there are reports of large walleyes being caught. When I heard Nick's fish was 31 inches I knew that it could be beat if the walleye was caught prior to spawn. There have been rumors of fish over 14 pounds being caught as long as I can remember. There was even a picture that made the Freeport Journal Standard of a walleye that was claimed to be 36 inches caught near McConnell in the early 2000's.

Ted Peck, an outdoor writer who lived in Shirland, used to write about the Pec often. His column ran in the Freeport Journal Standard and he also wrote for Illinois Game & Fish Magazine. I also remember seeing big walleye's being listed in Phil Pash's Big Fish contest that ran in the Rockford Register Star.

So how does a river that has been known for big walleyes and now has produced two state walleyes stay a secret? The river is not easily accessible, although access is much better know than it was when I was growing up. Most of the river travels through private farmland and, under normal water conditions, it is not easy to navigate with a boat. There are areas that allow for bigger boats but for the most part a flat bottom boat is the best boat to navigate through the log jams and shallow areas. I think this has been the major reason, if you do not know this river you might lose a lower unit. This also makes the river tough to fish especially if it is for one or two fishing trips a year.

Another reason is the locals don't want anyone to know about their diamond in the rough. I get several pictures a year from friends and old classmates who send me a photo of big walleyes they catch out of the Pec. Some are caught while actually fishing for walleyes while others are caught while fishing for catfish. Usually the photo is accompanied by a "if you tell anyone where I caught this I will make you pay"!

With two record walleyes being caught in two months I think it is fair to say that the secret is out! I am a little disappointed that both of these fish have come out of Winnebago County. There will be plenty of people that head over to that stretch of the Pec to try their luck for a record. Hopefully, while everyone is concentrating on the Winnebago stretch of the river, one of my friends or classmates will catch the record in Stephenson County. Then again, they probably won't tell anyone so they can keep it a secret!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back In the Saddle

It is hard to say that it has been a long winter as mother nature has blessed us with a surprisingly mild Southern Wisconsin winter. However, it has been a long winter for me. In years past I would fish into January on the Mississippi and then sit on a bucket catching fish through the ice into March. This year that did not happen.

I also would spend a lot of time in the field chasing pheasants with my trusted Brittany, Bailey. Unfortunately, that did not happen either as Bailey's health forced her into retirement. I tried to sneak the gun case and game vest out of the house but her nose still works too good. I just couldn't do that to my little buddy, besides without her it is not as fun. Instead I have spent the last couple of months taking her for walks and getting my fishing gear ready and am I ever ready!

2012 is setting up to be a great year. In addition to my 2011 sponsors of Lund, Mercury, Shimano, EZEE Step and Do-It Molds, I have added a new one, Frabill. Frabill is synonymous with nets but they are so much more. They continue to innovate with new products and clothing. Their new FXE Storm Suit is amazing and was recognized as best in apparel at the 2010 ICast show. I have fished some pretty nasty days and this suit will allow me to fish as comfortably as possible in the most extreme of conditions. Frabill is also the leader in Ice Fishing with shelters, ice suits, rods and reels, etc. If you want to catch fish through the ice Frabill products will help you do it better! They also have the best live bait management systems on the market. I will be at retail locations showing the benefits of these products and my other sponsors throughout the year!

My first tournament is the MWC Illinois River which is less than 3 weeks away. I will be giving a tournament preview and will do my best to update this blog weekly throughout the season. I look forward to sharing the good and the bad, hopefully there will be more good than bad!

See you later on down the river!