“It was a grind.” That’s pretty much what our staff and fans heard from the 32 anglers all five days about the bite on the second stop of the Pro Walleye Series tour this past week on Lake Wisconsin.
Although fishing was tough for everyone in this event and several matches in the GREAT8 had to go into “DINKFEST” to determine a bracket winner, it was still filled with some great, nail-biting drama as many of the match winners pulled in fish during the final minutes of each day of competition.
So what happened to the bite at Lake Wisconsin to make the fishing so tough – especially since it had been pretty good during the couple of weeks leading up to the tournament days? Almost everyone had an opinion, of course but here’s what we know for sure:
- An almost record early ice-out resulted in a much earlier spawn (similar to Detroit), which can often cause post-spawn fish to scatter throughout the system rather than “loading up” in certain areas to feed.
- The shallow bite, which accounted for most of the score-able fish during pre-fishing and tournament days, began to get worse each day, partly due to fishing pressure in some areas, but mainly due to low and falling water levels. Shallow fish hate falling water levels and will eventually abandon the shallow water to forage elsewhere.
- The “bug hatch” happening right during the event. This is every walleye angler’s nightmare as the fish gorge themselves on the larvae and adult flies, making it sometimes impossible to get them to bite. Another important factor was current flow. With low water comes less flow, creating less current seams and breaks that normally would concentrate baitfish and walleyes.
All of these factors might seem more like excuses rather than reasons for not catching more fish, but the reality is that although anglers can often overcome changes in the bite by making small adjustments, when several factors come together at the same time, it is really difficult to figure out what adjustments need to be made. And that was the case during this tournament.
Oh yeah: and remember that during the bracket fishing, the competitors are only fishing against one angler and each angler knows what the other has caught. Since half of the score-able fish were over five pounds, no angler was ever out of contention. They all knew that just one bite could put them in the winner’s bracket. Knowing that, it was hard for them to leave the spots where they had been catching fish. In fact, several of those casting into shallow water reported having big fish follow their bait right to the boat without biting. So they knew the right fish were there if they could just get them to bite.
Tough bite tournaments can be hard for fans to watch, I know. But they can also create some great teaching moments – not only for the fans, but for the tournament anglers as well. In the end however, someone always wins. They stay focused all day, everyday. They fish through the flat calm days, the windy days, the cold days and the hot days. They give it everything they’ve got and sometimes even more. They never give up until the official says “lines out.”
Last week on Lake Wisconsin, that “someone” was pro angler Isaac Lakich. The emotion he displayed at the end of Days 4 and 5 showed what five consecutive days of competition can do to you physically, mentally and emotionally. Isaac and the 31 other elite anglers have less that two weeks to de-frag before the third round H2H PWS event at historic Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota with lines-in beginning Monday morning on June 7th. It should be a wild ride!