Wisconsin Regional Championships Slated for Minocqua Chain, September 10-11
By Steve Weisman
GNWC Publicity Director
After a season of four qualifying tournaments on the Wisconsin circuit of the Grand National Walleye Cup (GNWC), those teams who made the cut are now preparing for the Wisconsin Championship of Walleye Fishing, which will be held at Minocqua Chain on September 10-11.
They will be competing for the first place prize of $5000 in cash, plus trophies. In addition, the winners will receive the Lowrance "YOU WIN!" award of two Lowrance LMS-332C color sonar/GPS units valued at $1400, making the total first place purse worth $6400.
Leading the way will be the Yamaha Outboards Wisconsin Region Team of the Year, Michael Gengalo, Jr., from Wausau, WI and Michael Gengalo, Sr., from Pelican, WI, who ran away with the title by accumulating 28 points. Their closest competitor had 53 points.
Grand National Walleye Cup (GNWC) Executive Director Bernie Barringer expressed excitement about holding the Wisconsin Championship of Walleye Fishing at the Minocqua Chain. "We welcome the opportunity to feature the Minocqua Chain for our championship. It's a great opportunity to come to a community and showcase one of the premier walleye chains in north central Wisconsin."
The Minocqua Chain, which has five main lakes on the chain, poses several interesting challenges for the tournament teams. According to Kurt Justice, owner of Kurt's Island Sport Shop and a full-time guide for the past 13 years, temperature changes and the timing of the tournament will be crucial.
"It all depends on what the temperatures do in the next couple of weeks. We could either be at the pre-turnover stage or the lakes could have turned over. The weed growth is already beginning to die back, and the fish are moving out toward the deeper coontail," said Justice.
Water clarity will also come into play. Lake Tomahawk is the clearest, with Minocqua less clear and Kawaguesaga more stained. Lake Tomahawk is also the largest at 3,392 acres, followed by Minocqua at 1360 acres, Kawaguesaga at 670 acres and Mid Lake at 42 acres.
So, a second challenge will be deciding on which body of water to spend time pre-fishing. "We have a great cisco forage, and a lot of the big walleyes will follow the forage," noted Justice. "However, targeting those fish is really tough, because we have a law that does not allow the use of a motor to propel the boat while fishing. A motor can be used to position the boat, but it cannot be used for fishing."
In other words, no trolling. Oh, yes, there is one means of trolling: rowing! Rowing is allowed, and the local anglers who know how, catch fish. Justice says accessing those fish will probably be done by jigging with spoons or casting deep diving crankbaits. The key is to locate the schools of cisco and then target the walleyes.
Teams will also target structure. "Rock bars, rock and deep gravel humps can hold some big walleyes," added Justice. "Depending on what the temperatures have done, the sand grass could also hold walleyes."
So, yes indeed, the GNWC teams have their pre-fishing work cut out for them.
For the GNWC teams, the activities actually start on Friday evening with the Wisconsin Championship Banquet.
The tournament opens Saturday morning with a 7 a.m. take-off, and weigh-in will take place at 3 p.m. Take-off and weigh-in will be held at Northern Resort.
"We certainly invite the public out to witness each day's weigh-ins. Each day will present a different sort of drama. Saturday's weigh-in will show the anglers and the crowd just where everybody stands going into Sunday's action. Then comes Sunday's weigh-in where the crowd will get a chance to see how the teams adjusted from the first day's fishing. It will also be a time to learn what these teams did to unlock the secrets of the Minocqua Chain," said Barringer.
Special awards will be give out at the Championships including the Cabelas Big Fish Award of a $200 shopping spree for the team that catches the largest walleye during the two-day Championships. In addition, an optional Big Fish Pot will go to the team catching the overall big fish during the Championships.
Skeeter Boats is offering an additional $3000 above their GNWC winnings to any owner of a Skeeter boat who wins the Wisconsin Championship of Walleye Fishing while fishing in the Skeeter. In addition, the top-finishing Skeeter owner will receive $1000. This extra $1000 is above the $3000 for winning.
YoNet Folding Nets by AMFYOYO will offer the Yo So Close Award of an $80 folding net to the three teams finishing just out of the money.
TowTector, maker of the premium boat protector for towing vehicles, will offer the Towtector Comeback Award of a Towtector Shield valued at $269 for the team advancing the most places from day one to day two.
The FoodSource Lure Company is sponsoring $200 in FoodSource Lures for the top placing family team.
Those interested in checking out the standings, reading the releases about any of the seven regions or simply learning more about the circuit can access the GNWC website at www.walleyecup.com.
Major national sponsors for the GNWC include Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Lowrance Electronics, YoNet Folding Nets by AMFYOYO, Aqua-VU, Aqua Innovations, Cabela's and UpNorthOutdoors.com. National championship sponsors are Towtector Shield and the FoodSource Lure Corporation.