Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lake Winnebago System Experiences Huge Fish Die-Off

Over the past month here in northeast Wisconsin temperatures have remained well above average.  Couple this with very little rainfall and you have yourself a recipe for disaster!  Water levels are at their lowest levels of the year, which is making for lots of stagnant water throughout the entire system.  To make matters even worse, Lake Winnebago is in the midst of the worst algae bloom the lake has seen in nearly a decade.

All of these factors have caused the fish living in these waters to become stressed, searching for cooler, cleaner water, which at the moment simply doesn't exist!  All of this stress has begun to kill the fish, which is causing more issues.  Thousands of dead fish are floating around the system, bloating up, and creating an odor I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

There have been several species of fish that have died off from these conditions, but the hardest hit seem to be the Northern Pike, Perch, and Sheepshead.  The first reports of a fish die-off came from the shores of the Wolf River, where water temperatures reportedly reached 92°!  As the heat wave continued, the fish die-off spread to the larger bodies of water in the system including: Lake Poygan, Lake Butte des morts, and finally Lake Winnebago.

At this point, all anyone can do is hope for cooler weather and rain.  Hopefully things cool off before this turns tragic!

Monday, July 2, 2012

MWC Lake Winnebago Results

The dog days of summer came early this year, and greeted the 134 teams fishing the Masters Walleye Circuit on the Lake Winnebago System June 29-30 with a large algae bloom that stretched to all sides of Lake Winnebago!  Hot, calm conditions on the lake allowed the algae to go nuts, creating a thick green slime on the surface, which at times was teaming with small flies that covered anglers boats making fishing for extended periods of time nearly intolerable!

Despite these unforeseen circumstances, the Walleyes system wide continued to bite readily, which made for some impressive weights come tournament time!  The boats were spread out system wide, with big weights coming from the upper lakes, the weeds on Lake Winnebago, and also the mud flats of the main lake.

The winners averaged nearly 20 pounds each day, which is a 4 pound average!  This is not easy to do on the Winnebago System, especially two days back to back!  Randy Seidl and Mark Schleis brought in a two day total of 39.69 pounds, which won them $18,300!  Second place went to the team of Gordy Schwarz and Brett Wilkens, with a two day total of 38.67 pounds!  It took a two day total of 30 pounds to even cash a check in this event!

Unfortunately for Steve and I, our hot prefishing program quickly fell apart as the west wind blew the algae and warm surface water into our area, which caused our fish to scatter off of our spots.  To make matters worse, at 11:00 on day one we lost our big motor, which meant we had to use the kicker motor to head back to the weigh in, which took 3 hours!  We also decided to take all of our trolling rods out of the boat, which turned out to prevent us from trolling back in, hoping for a big bite!

Luckily my dad allowed us to use his boat on day 2, but at this point we knew our bite was dying, and decided not to beat ourselves up or waste too much gas trying to overcome an 11 pound deficit!   We were still able to catch 5 decent fish and then decided to weigh in early.

At the end of it all, we ended up in 77th place, and were just happy to get through this one and start looking forward to the next tournament!  It doesn't matter how great of a fisherman you are, at some point the chips won't fall into place as planned!