UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Rising water worsens Winnebago bite

After 3 inches of overnight rainfall, the Lake Winnebago system is in flux. Most pros expect the fishing to be extremely difficult on day one.

OSHKOSH, Wis. - As evidenced at last year's FLW Walleye Tour event, the Lake Winnebago system is perhaps the most diverse walleye fishery in the country. Open-water experts can troll mud flats on the main lake, river rats can run to the Wolf or Fox, casters can pitch cranks over weeds and jiggers can work rock reefs. Winnebago has it all, but many of the pros are struggling to adapt as the water level rises after several inches of overnight rain.

The Upper Midwest has experienced an odd spring and summer. April and May, traditionally two of the wettest months of the year, were extraordinarily warm and dry causing drought conditions over much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Mother Nature answered the call and delivered hefty amounts of rainfall in June and July. She dumped another 3 inches on the Fox Valley area last night causing flash flooding in many nearby streams and rivers. While the earlier precipitation was welcomed, last night's was not, especially for the tournament anglers.

"The bite was already tough with the water being so warm and there being so much baitfish in the system," said Bartlett, Ill., pro John Balla. "But now with that rain it's going to be even tougher."

Overcast conditions greeted FLW Walleye Tour pros Thursday morning.Balla wanted to fish current in the river, but he thinks those ambitions have been washed away.

"There was 10 inches of clarity in the river yesterday. Today I bet there won't be four. It's going to be muddy and the current is just going to be too strong. With the rain we've had, this is becoming a main-lake deal. And when I say main lake, I mean Winnebago proper. I'm going to start by targeting those lethargic mud fish - see if I can't wake a few of them up. Unfortunately, they pretty much feed when they want to. The wildcard in this tournament could be the reef bite."

Chevy pro Jason Przekurat said it's conceivable that half the field zeroes today. That's neither a reflection of the lake or the anglers themselves, just an unfortunate set of conditions.

"We've had some good prefishing at times," the Stevens Point, Wis., native said. "But who knows after that storm we had last night. There will be a lot of guys struggling, but a few will still have 12 or 13 pounds."

Balla agreed.

"The thing is, three fish should go a long way. And nobody is really out of it after today. I predict there Anglers prepare for a challenging day on Wisconsinwill be very few limits and only a handful will be over 10 pounds."

Notable: FLW Walleye Tour competitors are permitted to fish the entire Winnebago system, which includes Lake Winnebago, the Fox and Wolf rivers, Lake Butte Des Mortes, Lake Winneconnie and Lake Poygan.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Pioneer Resort Marina located at 1000 Pioneer Drive in Oshkosh at 7 each morning. Weigh-ins will also be held at Pioneer Resort Marina beginning at 3 p.m. The community is invited to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public.

Pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day and fish for a combined boat weight. Pros compete against other pros, and co-anglers compete against other co-anglers. The full field competes during the two-day opening round for one of 10 final-round slots based on their accumulated weight. Weights carry over to day three, with the winners determined by the heaviest three-day weight.

In FLW Walleye Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship held on Leech Lake in Walker, Minn., Sept. 23-25. The top 20 pros and co-anglers from the final point standings in each division qualify for the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:25 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 73 degrees
Expected high temperature: 87 degrees
Water temperature: 78-82 degrees
Wind: W at 13 mph
Maximum humidity: 58 percent
Day's outlook: showers early then partly cloudy

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2010-07-15-lake-winnebago 

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