This week, I’m relegated to my tablet, since the pup chewed through my laptop cable. The pictures will come at the end, bear with me.
We returned to Lake Winnebago last weekend to participate in the two day Battle on Bago tournament. We arrived later than expected on Friday, and were set up just as it got dark. We stuck it out in a hastily-chosen spot on the south end of the lake near North Fond du Lac until about 8:30 when the lack of fish and the cold drove us off.
Saturday morning we were up before the sun, grabbing coffee and donuts before we headed back to a more thought out location in about 16 feet of water, this time also closer to the park where the tournament was based.
Marking fish but with no bites, we were a little discouraged. Around 10:00, that all changed. First Matt had a flag- a nice 16 inch walleye. Five minutes later, one of my tip ups went up.
This one had a “jumbo” shiner on- a 4″ + baitfish. After chipping the ice from around my tip up, I pulled in line till i felt a little tension, set the hook, and began reeling it in, hand over hand. It felt heavy. As the mouth of the fish came up to the hole, I just saw a white jaw. “It’s a pike!” , I exclaimed. Wrong- it was a very nice 27 inch walleye. We felt a lot better with two fish on the ice.
Sadly, it was not to last. We had set up about 100 yards from someone’s sturgeon shack. Around 10:30, he came to get it. That involved very noisily plowing the snow build up away from the shack, and then about an hour of dinking around attempting to problem solve getting the shack back on the trailer. No more fish for us.
The beauty of this tournament is the way they do prizes. They don’t just go down the first 15 places with awesome prizes, and everyone else is out of luck. They place out to 1000th (big tournament on a big lake), the first 7 places get something, then 10th and 15th, 20th and 25th, all the way up to the end, by 5s. In this way, 75th place got $8000, and 1st got a 75 quart Grizzly cooler. 150th and 300th each got brand new Ford F150s, and 200th and 600th got new Lund boats. There were shanties, fishing packs, and other fat cash prizes scattered throughout. The set up encourages everyone to enter fish, and it makes it fun as well as fair.
Matt and I both entered our fish, which were judged by weight. Mine sat at about 4.6 pounds, his around 1.8. First place went to an 8.5 pound hulk of a walleye. I actually placed between 100 and 105, smack between two prize places. I just missed $1000 or a vastly oversized ice fishing suit by a few ounces either way. Matt also placed, somewhere out in the 700s, if I remember. He didn’t miss the second boat or truck by all that much, a few ounces maybe, and he was pretty close to a guided Kansas whitetail hunt, too.
So, we didn’t get any tournament prizes, but we did take home some really nice filets. We entered into the raffle, and on the off chance we got one of those prizes, we should hear within a few days. We were still holding out for an ATV.