Rookie On Tour – PWT Winneconne 2006

My first professional walleye tournament is completed. I didn’t fare very well. I made a few, actually a lot of rookie mistakes, but the good thing is I learned a lot.

I was very much looking forward to this tournament, as well as all the other anglers from Wisconsin that fish this body of water. At this time of year, the walleyes are usually stacked in Lake Poygan, Winneconne, Butte de Morts, and Winnebago. Talking with the locals, they have never seen it this bad in 20 years. There were reports that the walleye were still up in the marshes, where they spawn, gorging themselves on shiners. The water warmed up so fast, that the shiners came up to spawn, and that coincided with the walleyes being up there.


As I was getting the boat ready to launch, Scott and Marty Glorvigan pulled up in their Verado wrapped boats. As I went up river I saw Keith Kavajcez fishing, I pulled around the next bend and began fishing. Gary Parson goes by. I looked at Scott Becker, my prefishing partner, and said, "I can’t believe I’m fishing with these guys, the best of the best".

The first few days I struggled to find weighable fish. The good thing was that the other pro’s I talked to were struggling also.
Easter Sunday, I decided to take the hour drive home to spend some time with the family. My daughter was having a hard time with me being gone on the holiday. I had told them the night before that I wouldn’t be coming home, so when I got up, I decided to make the drive home. While my daughter was still sleeping, I surprised her. The big smile and hug I got from her made it all worth while. I made the right decision by going home.

The last two days I was having better luck, both in the lake and the rivers.

Day 1

My plan was to fish the river around Oshkosh, from the 41 bridge down to the railroad bridge. I was pulling flies. For those of you that don’t know what or how that is done, they are streamer flies. Use a three-way swivel, tie about an 8 inch dropper to a one ounce weight. To the other eyelet (with about a three foot lead), tie on one fly, and then tie another fly to about a 1 ½ foot lead. Drop it to the bottom, but leave out enough line to have a constant feel to the bottom. The way to fish it is with a constant pumping action.

We jumped from bridge to bridge looking for active fish; my amateur partner lost a decent size fish right away at the first stop. We caught numerous walleyes from 8-10 inches all day. Finally, getting a weigh fish about 1:30. That was it for the day, except for the little fish.

At the weigh-in, the weights were small. The guys that had limits were only weighing in 5lbs. I knew those were Winnebago fish. There were a couple decent sized fish caught. 1 6lb walleye from Brad Davis. Ken Van Oss, Tom Gatzke, and Tommy Kemos had nice weights. Seeing those, I new some fish were coming down.

Day 2

Knowing my fish were not there from yesterday, I had a decision to make. Do I go to Winnebago and try for the 15 inchers or go up river to try for the bigger males and hopefully a female.

I decided to go up river to a spot where I had caught some smaller fish, hoping the bigger ones were there.

I decided to make the 2 hour run to Guth’s Landing. When I got there, the area was pretty packed with tournament boats. There was one problem, the fish were not there, the 12 inchers were there.

We ended up going down river, from spot to spot to spot.

Not being able to find the fish, I told my amateur, we were going to Winneconne to pull flies. South of the bridge, down by the power lines has always been a good spot for me. We were not there 5 minutes; I had a big walleye on, got it up to the boat. I’ll leave it at that.

Day 3

Last night was very hard, what do I do? I need a big basket to try and get in the money, and not embarrass myself.

I decided to go just north of Fremont, by the hook. I was one of the first boats out today, I got up there, started making my pass, then the flock of boats came, with Ken Van Oss. I thought great I picked the right place. I finally found some fish just below Partridge Crop Lake. We got a 3lb walleye right away. I was tying on a jig and had my other line just dragging bottom when it hit. I decided to try something. I put on a split shot with a Mustad Aberdeen hook with half a crawler. I couldn’t keep the fish off. Every pass I was getting two or three fish. They were only 12-13 inches. I ended up staying there all day. In hindsight, I should have gone down river about a quarter mile, that’s where they were. I ended up with 2.71 lbs.

That put me in 91st place. At least it wasn’t last.

Being my first professional tournament, I was very impressed with the professionalism of the PWT. Jim, Charlie, and Julie are great.

Going into this tournament, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a jigging bite. River fishing and jigging are my weakness. I found out that I really need to work on that part of my game.

I had three great amateur partners’, I’m just sorry I couldn’t get them on more fish. One lesson I learned, is, don’t fish memories. During prefish, I new that the fish were not down, and I should have done more in the river. My last day of prefish, I was on Winnebago, that’s where I should have been at least on the first day. It’s better to get a limit of 14-15 inchers on a tough bite, then looking to get a limit of big fish that are not there.

I would like to congratulate Tom Gatzke, on his win. He did a heck of a job on a tough bite.

I can’t wait for Devil’s Lake; actually the next three should better fit me. Talk to you after that.