Sunday, February 23, 2014

Battle on Bago Results

The 2014 Battle on Bago is officially in the book, a season that will go down as the year of the Burbot.  For those of you that have never heard of this fish, it also goes by the name Eelpout or Lawyer.  These slimy creatures spawn in the shallows along hard bottom throughout Lake Winnebago in mid February and can grow in excess of 8 pounds!  The Battle on Bago just so happened to coincide perfectly with the Burbot spawn, making these poor creatures a heavily targeted species for the thousands of anglers competing in the tournament.

A total of 3701 fish were registered this year, with 2.268 lbs taking the final prize at 700th place.  Out of the top 700 places, 3 White Bass, 48 Walleyes, and 649 Burbot were registered!  This means that 92.7% of the prize eligible fish were Burbot!  There has never been such species domination in the Battle up until this year.  Approximately 830 Burbot were registered this year, which cannot be a good sign for the future of this species!

Burbot AKA Eelpout or Lawyer

Congratulations to Sam Lehman for winning this year's battle with a 9.733 pound Walleye!  A big congratulations goes out to the lucky big prize winners; Kyle Pawelkiewicz won the Ford F-150 with a 3.977 pound Burbot, Dale Dobbratz took home the Lund 1875 Impact with a 150 horsepower Mercury Fourstroke, and Mike Lorbecke walked away with a Lund 1650 Rebel XL with Mercury 90hp Motor.

Anglers registered 43 Walleyes weighing less than 0.15 lbs, which were from last years spring hatch.  These fish were harvested simply to fill a ticket that anglers had absolutely no chance of winning a prize with anyways.  I hope anglers next year realize that a fish that small simply won't place high enough to win a prize and will release these fish rather than bringing them to the scales.

Another touchy subject this year was the sale of tickets from angler to angler.  Guys that didn't catch any fish during the two day event were selling their tickets to anglers getting in line to register fish.  If anglers had more fish than tickets, they were asked by others if they wanted to purchase a ticket to be able to register their extra fish.  This should not be allowed, as ticket sales end before the Battle begins.

The top 3 places were taken by huge Walleyes weighing 9.733, 7.595, and 7.354 pounds respectively.  There is some speculation amongst anglers that these fish were not likely legally caught during the event.  With such a lack of Walleyes registered in the top 700, it seems a little fishy that these large Walleyes were taken during the event.  There will be a lie detector test administered on Monday following the event for the winners of large prizes, so we will have to wait and see what comes of this.  This could open up another can of worms, as if it were determined that someone at the top cheated, this would change the results for everyone that won a prize all the way down to 700th.  People that took 151st or 401st would be very angry, as a cheater caused them to miss their prize!

With such a large tournament being run on simple rules and no enforcement, cheating becomes an unfortunate part of the game that until enforced, will continue for years to come in Battle on Bago.  It will be interesting to see what changes will be made to the Battle on Bago for 2015.  I really hope that the creators of the event reach out to the competitors to ask for their input on suggested changes to continue the Battle on Bago's expansion each year.

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