UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Deffner does the impossible

Deffner does the impossible
Pro Brian Deffner and co-angler Bob Miller hold up their 19-pound, 11-ounce day-two catch.

OSHKOSH, Wis. - The bite on day two of the FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Winnebago improved substantially. But in all honesty, the fishing had nowhere to go but up. On day one, the entire field managed only 36 keeper walleyes. That number was nearly doubled to 71 on Friday.

The four biggest fish of the day all came from the same person. That individual was Eland, Wis., pro Brian Deffner. After striking out at his first four spots, Deffner hit the jackpot at 11 a.m. Within the next three hours he had keepers that measured 23, 24, 25 and 26 inches in length. Fish No. 2 and 3 came at the same time - a trolling double. His day-two weight was 19 pounds, 11 ounces, by far the heaviest stringer of the tournament.
Pro leader Brian Deffner waits to weigh in his fish Friday afternoon.
"I wasn't expecting that (19-11), but I was expecting more than caught I yesterday," said Deffner, whose lone keeper Thursday weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces. "That's a personal best for me and I didn't even have five."

To catch his fish, Deffner is making 1/2-mile passes over main-lake mud. While many of the others near the top of the leaderboard are struggling to stay on specific structure, the pro leader said the windy conditions experienced in the opening round don't hurt him.

"A lot of guys have had a tough week. We caught some fish in practice - enough where I thought I could get a limit. But the big storms that rolled through here two nights ago really messed things up. It's been kind of a tough bite down here all year, but hopefully we can get them tomorrow. Winnebago is Winnebago, you never know. What happened today might not happen tomorrow."

With the Wisconsin no-cull rule in place, Deffner plans to keep any keeper he hooks.

"Oh yeah. If I can come in with 12 or 13 pounds I'll take it."

Pro Brett Wilkens and co-angler Randal Sterr hold up part of their day-two catch.Wilkens slips to second

On an ultra-stingy Winnebago system, there have been three limits weighed in during the entire tournament. Two of those three have come from Brett Wilkens, yet the Kiel, Wis., native trails by 13 ounces heading into the final day.

"I'm happy with that weight; I'm not happy with the conditions," said Wilkens, who caught 11-11 yesterday and 8-5 today. "I need the wind to lay down. I'm fishing all the way on the other side of the lake and I can't hold with an anchor because the bottom is all gravel. And my water looks like chocolate milk."

Like yesterday, Wilkens caught his limit in two places. But those were not the same two places.

"Today they all came on 1/8-ounce jigs with either a leech or a crawler. These are small little areas in like 8 to 12 feet of water. The ones that produced yesterday did not produce today."

After seeing Deffner's big sack, Wilkens was noticeably disappointed. But he hasn't given up on his title aspirations.

"I don't think I can catch fish like that," he said. "But if it calms down I think I can get a limit of 17 to 21 Paul Meleen patiently waits to weigh in his three walleyes Friday.inchers. There are so many spots on this lake that I haven't fished yet."

Meleen slips to third

After catching 8 pounds, 8 ounces yesterday, Paul Meleen managed three keepers worth 4 pounds, 8 ounces today - bringing his total weight to 13 pounds even. The Isle, Minn., pro is fishing small bottlenecks in the Wolf and Fox rivers - attempting to target walleyes positioned on small ambush points.

"Elements are dictating what I can and can't do. Today I had a big weed problem in my area. They cleared up as the day went on though so I'm really excited about tomorrow. I think the fish are still coming to me."

Despite fishing in current that is ripping at 3 to 4 mph, Meleen is using 1/8-ounce jigs and three-way rigs with live bait. He's identified small pockets that he makes precise casts to with his boat positioned 30 feet away. He's paired this little pattern down to a science.

"Any heavier with the jig and it will blow them out and any closer with the boat won't work either."

Pro Stephen Gaston and co-angler Derek Navis caught a 12-pound limit Friday.Gaston goes from zero to hero

Montegut, La., pro Stephen Gaston rose from a last-place tie to fourth Friday, courtesy of a 12-pound limit. And ironically, his big stringer came from the same area where he zeroed the day prior.

"When I got there yesterday I knew it was done," said Gaston. "But today it looked like it had a chance. We rolled in there and caught a 13-incher almost right away and decided to stay. From then on it was about one an hour all day long."

This area Gaston describes is a 200-yard stretch of undeveloped bank. He works the area back and forth by casting Rapala Shad Rap crankbaits. Depending on the specific location, he'll use anything from a No. 4 to a No. 7. Generally speaking, the water is 5 to 7 feet deep.

"I tried trolling in practice, but couldn't get it together. But I prefer casting anyway."

Like Meleen, Gaston has this area all to himself and is excited for tomorrow.

Pro Chris Gilman rallied on day two with an 8-pound, 4-ounce stringer.Gilman fifth

Chris Gilman, the reigning Angler of the Year, made a nice comeback on day two. After catching only one squeaker Thursday, he managed four fish Friday that weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces - bringing his total weight to 9-6.

Last year on Winnebago Gilman pitched crankbaits over weed beds for a fifth-place finish. This year the Chisago City, Minn., native said he's trolling mud flats with the new Evinrude E-TEC 15 H.O. kicker engine.

"I'm happy with that weight; I really am," Gilman said.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cutoff after day two:

6th: Don Loch of Iron Mountain, Mich., two-day total of 9-4
7th: Gregory Dekalb of Franklin, Wis., 9-3
8th: Mark Keenan of Appleton, Wis., 8-2
9th: Ryan Jirik of Rhinelander, Wis., 7-14
10th: Steve Lotz of Lena, Ill., 7-6

Miller widens co-angler lead

Local co-angler Bob Miller could probably sleep in tomorrow and still win the tournament. After catching a limit on day one weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces, Miller came in with a 19-pound, 11-ounce stringer (on four fish) today. Both those catches were the heaviest of the day and gave Miller a total weight of 31 pounds, 6 ounces. Unbelievably, Miller has accumulated an 18-pound, 2-ounce lead.

"I should be sitting pretty for tomorrow," he laughed. "I've just been really fortunate to draw two very good partners. Both of those guys know this lake really, really well."

After using slip bobbers and jigs yesterday with Wilkens, Miller went trolling the mud flats today with Deffner.

Tomorrow he'll be reunited with Deffner as boat No. 1.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who made the cutoff after day two:

2nd: Derek Navis of Waupun, Wis., two-day total of 13-4
3rd: Steve Beasley of Macomb, Mich., 13-0
4th: Mike Taylor of Midland, Mich., 10-1
5th: Randal Sterr of Oconomowoc, Wis., 9-7
6th: Tim Depooter of Rock Island, Ill., 9-4
7th: Collin Martin of Appleton, Wis., 9-3
8th: Eugene Little of Milton, Wis., 8-4
9th: Bob Allen of Brookfield, Wis., 8-2
10th: Brian Boelter of Colgate, Wis., 7-6

The final day of FLW Walleye Tour competition on Lake Winnebago begins as the top-10 pros and top-10 co-anglers take off from Pioneer Resort Marina, located at 1000 Pioneer Drive in Oshkosh, at 7 a.m. Central time Saturday.

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

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