Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2011 Midwest Walleye Series Championship Results

The top 25 teams from the series hit the waters of Green Bay out of Menominee MI in search of 3 big Walleyes to bring to the scales.  Cloudy skies and light winds greeted the anglers at takeoff, but by 11:00 Southeast winds had begun to rile up the bay.  By 2:00 there were three foot waves rolling down the bay, making for a bumpy ride in for the anglers.  Water temperatures throughout the bay ranged from the mid 60's to the south in the lower bay down to the upper 50's to the north of Menominee along the west shoreline.

The fishermen predicted a tough bite, with falling water temps, a week of the full moon phase, and a lack of wind in the morning being reasons the bite would be tough.  Despite tough fishing predictions, a total of 33 fish were brought to the scales, with 8 teams catching their 3 fish limit.

Eric Balstad and Gary Gaveart brought 3 Walleyes in that weighed 20.26 pounds, which was enough to seal the deal and become the 2011 MWS Championship winners!  The team received a $4000 check for the win as well as $500 from Lindahl LTD for running a Ranger Boat, $300 from Smooth Moves Seat Mounts for having their seat mounts, and will also get their entry fees for next years MWS Series paid for!  Talk about having a good day!

The winners reported catching their tournament winning fish near Sturgeon Bay pulling Nightcrawler Harnesses near the bottom.  Fine tuning their depth, lure color, and trolling speed were critical for catching their fish.

2011 MWS Team of the Year Steve Slabe and Lance Busse brought 19.46 pounds of Walleyes to the scales, which was good enough for second place and $2200.  The team caught their fish along the west shore near the launch on a combination of crankbaits and nightcrawler harnesses in 15-25 fow.

Third place went to the Husband/Wife Team of the Year Ron and Vickie Goldapske.  The team weighed 3 fish for 17.72 pounds, which resulted in an $1800 check.  The team found their fish north of the launch along the west shore as well.

Scott Rohloff and Mike Wright made a big run to the south, despite running the smallest boat in the tournament, and it paid off.  The team weighed 3 fish for 13.52 pounds which was good for fourth place and a check for $1400.

Rounding out the top 5 was Jim Leanna and Gordon Rabetski, the team weighed 3 fish for 13.34 pounds and narrowly missed fourth place.  Their effort still earned them $1000 and a top five finish against some of the best anglers in the region.

The Midwest Walleyes Series wouldn't be possible without their great sponsors.  Mercury Marine, Ranger Boats, Motorguide, and Mills Fleet Farm were major sponsors.  The Reel Shot, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, and Lindahl LTD. were tournament sponsors this season.  Big Eye Custom Lures, Drop N Stay, Anglers Pride, Envision Ink, Intruder, Jack's Jigs, Marine General, and MW Marine were supporting sponsors.

WalleyeFirst Media did a great job with the Media coverage for each event and was made possible by The Reel Shot, which is much appreciated by all the anglers and their families and friends!

The annual Championship Banquet was held after the event, and was enjoyed by the anglers and their families. Each team making the championship received a top 25 MWS Sweatshirt, top 25 plaque, and received a door prize.  The Teams of the year were recognized, as well as the winners of the championship.

Ron and Vickie Goldapske were presented with the Richard "Hack" Hackbarth Memorial Award, which is given out each year in honor of Hack.

Next years tournament dates have not yet been set, but TFM Promotions hopes to have the schedule out soon.

More images from the event can be found here.   MWS Championship Images

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Transitions

Well, the long, warm days of summer have come and gone, and now we are left with cooling temperatures and fading daylight.  This marks the beginning of the fall transition for many of the wildlife living in our area.  Geese and other migratory birds are flocking up in preparation for their annual flight south, the kids are back to school, and the Packers are once again playing football!
Fish are also getting in on the action, with seasonal movements starting to happen.  Mature Salmon are leaving the depths of Lake Michigan and approaching the streams and rivers where their journey began to spawn and continue the cycle of life.  Great Lakes Walleyes are transitioning from their mid lake haunts towards spring spawning areas and shorelines.  Muskies can now be found on deep weed edges, drop offs, and on large rock bars.

No matter what species of fish you target at this time of the year, its advantage angler!  There are several reasons that fall can be the most productive time of year to fish.  Number 1, angler pressure fades as the hunting season begins and anglers replace their rods with bows and shotguns.  Secondly, the shorter days and cooling temperatures cause fish to begin their fall feeding binge.  Fish will aggressively feed as the water cools, in preparation of the long winter months ahead.  Contrary to the rest of the year, dropping water temps and north winds in the fall actually make the fish bite better than warm, stable weather. 

Finding bait at this time of the year becomes key in catching fish.  Find the food, and you will find aggressively feeding fish!  Knowing where to look for bait can be the challenge! 

Due to their fragile nature, Gizzard Shad will seek the warmest possible water as temperatures begin to plummet.  Rivers and warm water discharges become stacked with millions of tightly schooled Shad.  You can guarantee that sooner or later some game fish will find this all you can eat buffet and gorge themselves!  
Making fish bite when there are millions of baitfish around them can also present a challenge.  I have found that fishing the edges of the main schools of bait to be the most productive method, but a large, loud bait can also help the fish home in on your offering within the main bait pod.

Another productive fall tactic to catch fish in clear water is night fishing.  Clear water allows Walleyes and Muskies to feed all night long as long as there is some moonlight out.  Shallow water areas with deep water nearby become prime locations to find feeding fish.
Whether you are after Panfish or Gamefish, fall is the time to cash in on the action!