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Wisconsin Tournament Angler What’s Inside Off the Back Deck….pg. Women on the Water… pg. Bait of the Month… pg. Future of Fishing… pg. And Much more inside

Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine March 2018 Table of Contents:. The Future of Fishing…………………………………………… Pg. 4 Angler’s Choice Guntersville preview ……………….…. Pg. 5 Through the Guide’s Eyes…………………………………….. Pg. 6 Bait of the Month………………………………………………….. Pg. 7 Fishing Tournaments ………………………………………….. Pg. 10 Rules and Regs ………………………………………..…………… Pg. 11 Launch Ramp Etiquette ……………………………………….. Pg. 12 What’s on the Graph? ……………………………………………. Pg. 13 Women on the Water……………………………………………...Pg. 14 Schoolin’ Bass ………………………………………………………. Pg. 15 Calendar of Opens ………………………………………………… Pg. 16 Off the Back Deck …………………………………………………. Pg. 17 Angler Determination ………………………………………….. Pg. 19 Mapping for Success …………………………………………….. Pg. 21

Special thanks to our contributing writers: Gregg Kizewski—Super K Jigs Mike Hofmann—Secret Weapon Baits Brian Schultz—Bassnut Lures Terry Ellis—Motley Fishing


Fish Like a Girl Media Beckie Gaskill P.O. Box 57 Rhinelander, WI 54501 715-360-3242

Congratulations to the Wisconsin BASS Nation state team for an excellent showing at Regionals on Toledo Bend!

And a big congratulations to Josh Miller, Josh Credidio, Harry Marsh II and Harry Marsh III. These four anglers will be headed to Nationals! Way to go guys!

From the publisher: Welcome to the first edition of Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine. I hope you enjoy the stories inside, the stories about your friends and fellow anglers. I started this magazine to give credit where credit is due. State-level anglers have just as much heart and determination as those at the professional level, yet they do not get the recognition they deserve for their efforts. This magazine is an attempt to do just that. As the magazine grows and evolves, the stories and features will change and more features will be added. For now, it is largely a one-(wo)man operation, with help from a few key contributors. I would like everyone to always feel free to send me ideas and let me know if they have see a story I have yet to cover. While I cannot be everywhere every weekend, I hope to see many of my readers throughout the season as I travel the state covering club, series, and open tournaments. Thank you for reading. Let me know what you think. Beckie 3

The Future of Fishing— Cole Marsolek

he would like to get better at fishing a drop shot, but he does not like to sit still that long. Besides fishing, Marsolek does a good deal of hunting as well. He hunts deer and turkey whenever he can, and he enjoys duck hunting. This year, he said, his parents bought him a 14foot boat for duck hunting. He is getting the boat prepared and perfected for duck hunting. Waterfowl hunting, he said, is his second favorite activity besides fishing.

As anglers and outdoorsmen, we look to get youth involved in our sport and to help them learn the things they need to know to be successful. With the popularity of video games and the wealth of other activities to which youth can dedicate their time, it can be difficult to get them outside and learning to love the outdoors. That is not the case with all youth, however, such as 13-yearold Cole Marsolek from Menominee.

But not only does the 13-year-old enjoy hunting, he has even started his own business making turkey and duck calls. His business, Closer Calls, can be found on Facebook or Instagram by searching for searching “Closer Calls,” or on his website

Marsolek has always been an angler and loved the outdoors.. He started out fishing on the pontoon boat with his parents. He has a natural love of the outdoors and has been attracted to hunting and fishing more than stick and ball sports all of his life.

“I guess, if you go to Scheel’s or anywhere, you can’t find a really good hand-crafted call that is tuned and makes a really good sound,” he said, which gave him the idea to make his own. “I knew my dad did a little woodworking in high school, and he kind of said we could try it. And it wound up working out.” Looking to the future, Marsolek said he would like to grow his business and see where he can go with it. No matter what his future brings, he would like to do something working in the outdoors.

“We’ve been fishing as long as I can remember,” he said. “We used to go out and catch crappies off of cribs and stuff. But I really started getting serious about fishing about two years ago.” The first tournaments he fished were last year when he fished with his dad in the Upper Midwest Bass Challenge. He said he loves the competitive aspect of tournament fishing. “I love getting up in the morning,” he said of fishing tournaments. “And take off is exciting. I can’t explain it, but it’s really cool to me. I like the excitement of getting the day going.” Bass, he said, is now his favorite species to target. He likes the fact that there are so many different ways to catch them and so many different areas, baits and techniques that he can use. The fact that it changes all the time makes it exciting for him. He hopes to keep fishing tournaments with his dad, Chad, for years to come. “I like to fish buzz baits in under five feet of water,” he said. “That’s my favorite way to fish. I like dock fishing, too, but I like to fish buzz baits.” Fishing shallow, he said, is his specialty and where he feels comfortable. He said he

Photos courtesy of Lissa Marsolek


A Gunterville preview with Greg Klug

is a bit different, so finding one that fits with an angler’s strengths can be difficult, but it can be done. It gives anglers a lot to choose from, he said. The odds of getting a big fish, he said, are good on Guntersville. “Somebody always gets an 11 or a 12,” he said of the quality of fish brought to the scales and caught during practice. “I got my personal best down there. It was over nine. Of course, that was not during the tournament,” he laughed.

Klug also warned against listening to dock talk. Not figuring the fish out for yourself, he said, can make it difficult. Because there are so many different ways to fish, it is counterproductive to chase another angler’s pattern. When learning to break down the water, Klug said he would choose an area and concentrate just on that area for a couple of days. If he could not get anything going in that area, he would move a bit and pick that area apart for a couple days. He did this until he found an area that worked for him. He warned against trying to do too much at once or trying to figure out a big portion of the lake, saying an angler would have a very difficult time figuring out the fish or finding fish.

For some, tournament season has already begun. At the time of this writing, many anglers from Wisconsin are in Alabama prefishing Lake Guntersville for the Angler’s Choice championship. Greg Klug, who runs the Angler’s Choice Northern Wisconsin division, has been to Guntersville several times in the past, and gave his breakdown of the lake and what it is like to travel across the county and fish a lake that may be unfamiliar to many anglers headed down for the first time.

“I also would say looking at the internet or trying to look on the internet to see what was done in the past is not a good idea,” he said of preparing for the tournament. “And thinking that a big fish is around every corner or blade of grass is not true. The first trip I made down there, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake, and I’d just do what I do. It took me five days to catch a fish. But the biggest thing is just not giving up. But we wound up in 17th that year. We found one spot on the last day of practice, and it worked out.”

“I would tell people to fish their strengths,” he said. “There are so many different ways to fish it. I’d say fish a Rat-L-Trap. That’s the way most guys fish it. But you can fish with a jig, a football jig, a crankbait. I’ve caught them really well on a chatterbait.” He said there are deep weeds, deep points, shallow rocks and old weed beds in 8-12 feet of water. Green weeds, he said, are key to finding fish.

Continued on Pg. 6

The size of that water, at 77 miles long, can be daunting for people who have never been there before. Fish school a lot more. They can be in schools of 100 or more fish. Every bay


Cont. from pg 5

Through the Guide’ Eyes

Klug said he waits to get on the water to try to figure things out. He looks at clarity, water temperature, and what stage the fish are in. Current, he said, is key on Guntersville, and said anglers should keep an eye on that. Things can change completely from year to year, he said, and it is very dependent upon the shad. For that reason he does not believe in fishing history when he goes back to Guntersville every year. What worked last year may not be even close this year, he said.

Brian Schultz—Bassnut Lures All the new fishing catalogs arriving in the mail means one thing – it’s time to gear up for the opening day of fishing. Again we race down like a finely tuned NASCAR stock car to Fleet Farm or Gander Outdoor to look at the newest and hottest tackle out. For the average angler who does not keep up with advancing technology, it can get confusing and frustrating. Many wind up walking around from aisle to aisle like a zombie surrounded by endless masses of fishing equipment. As a 15-year veteran of fishing tournaments and doing seminars across the state, the most asked question I hear is, “What is the best fishing line to use?”

As for the area in general, he said most of the businesses and places such as the Chamber of Commerce are very accommodating to tournament anglers. Tournaments, he said, generate a lot of income and help the economy of the area a great deal. Locals, too, he said are generally pretty nice, making the overall experience a good one.

My response is there are more than 15 companies making line with 50 or more different types available. It can get confusing choosing a good line. I break these lines down into two types. Braided, known also as “super lines,” and monofilament, which includes fluorocarbon. I use both types of lines for fishing tournaments and for fun. I really like using braided line when I’m fishing heavy cover such as stumps and brush, or when fishing weedy areas. It has zero stretch for faster hooksets and excellent tensile strength from a smaller diameter line. I use a 6 lb. braided line, which has the strength of 20 lb. test. This line casts very well and does not twist like mono. A rod of caution when using braided lines, however. Not all rod and reels can be used with braids. Check with the local fishing department before you purchase these high strength lines.

“Be prepared for anything,” he said. “Bring a lot of warm clothes. I fished two years in the snow down there. None of us packed enough clothes. We thought, hey, we’re going to Alabama. It’s going to be warm. But bring shorts, too, because it can snow in the beginning of the week and be 90 degrees at the end of the week.” The practice period started this Thursday and runs through until the mandatory meeting next Wednesday evening. Wisconsin’s Northern Wisconsin Division, he said, has the third largest division and 25 anglers qualified to go to Guntersville.

I believe choosing a good monofilament can be the most challenging. You have fluorocarbons, copolymers, extra tough, long cast and finesse in every color of the rainbow. It’s mind boggling! They are all serving one purpose, to catch big fish. I use Spiderwire Stealth braided line and Berkley Big Game mono lone for all of my fishing gear. When picking new line, it is best to do a little research and ask some questions. Be sure the new type of line you are buying will serve the purpose for which you intend it. Ask questions about what you are buying. The answers may surprise you. Good luck out there and take a Buddy fishing!


Bait of the Month—

This is my second step with the swim jig. Rip it. This is power fishing and I use it to cover water in the whole water column. I use the same size, 3/4oz. But this is where the 7'2" Denali comes into play. And I need a very good line. I use 12 lbs. Super Sniper made by Sunline. In dirty water I would prefer braid. Low stretch is the key. Cast to the moon as far as you can. Let that jig hit the bottom and rip, crank. Rip, crank. Rip as fast as you can straight up, and reel as you are dropping your rod to rip again. On that 7'2" rod, I am bringing that jig 14' or more off the bottom. Then let it drop and repeat. Every time that jig hits the bottom, count to two. If you find them at your 2nd or 3rd rip you know those fish are off the bottom. Then you can continue to rip or swing it higher. One other reason I like the 3/4 for this is you can cover water fast not waiting on your lure to sink. This by far is my favorite way to fish a jig.

The Jig This month’s bait of the month is a jig. Three anglers have a flipping jig, a swim jig, and a football head jig. They were asked when, where and how they would fish these baits given the fish being in a pre-spawn pattern. The three anglers were Thomas Gradowski, Kyle Martinson and Chris Fredrick. Here is what they had to say:

Thomas Gradowski

Skirted football head jig: I fish this jig 3 ways. Drag, drag, and drag. In the cold water this is my go to bait. The colder the slower I work it. I will drop down to a 2/0 hook. But I will keep the 3/4oz. and change my trailer from big to small. If they want a low-profile bait, I’ll use a small 3" senko. But a bigger craw like a Chigger Craw will make the jig stand and fall slower. I like a Med/Heavy Denali Lithium with 12 lb. Super Sniper. I want complete feel. When you are dragging you need to feel everything and be ready to set anytime.

I have been fishing tournaments for 22 years now. And I am also a director for Anglers Choice Lake Geneva and Angler's Choice Fox Chain.

I will and do throw a jig 95 percent of the time in tournaments. From ice out to late fall. There is not a lake out there were you can't catch bass off a jig. It is the most versatile and valuable lure out there. You can mimic from crayfish to bluegills to shad. What time of the year doesn't bass eat them 3 things?

Flipping jig: The flipping jig is the least used out of my choice of jigs. I will throw or skip them under docks on sunny days. Mosty using a 1/2oz with a small craw bug. Now I use the "least used" lightly. Because I have a jig on my pole 99 percent of the year. But most of my time I am fishing clear water 15 feet plus. I like a 6'8" dock rod with a 7.1 reel. Once I hook up i don't want them to wrap me in the docks.

As far as color I try my best to "Match the hatch." I will Google search lake _______ crayfish. If it's a big enough lake pictures will pop up. Even smaller lakes will have pictures. Then I break my search down farther to spring summer and fall.

Swim jig: This is the money. This is my go to right away jig. Just because it's called a swim jig doesn't mean you have to swim it. I found its a great bait to work slow and fast. Here are a few ways I like to fish it. I throw a 3/4 if I am in 12 to 30 feet of water. In the spring I will use a dark color mostly dark green with some purple mixed in. I like a big twister tail. I have found the best rod to be a 7' or 7'2" Denali N2 Heavy action with a soft to med tip. I also use a 7.1 reel. If I know fish are in the areas here how I start, I will cast it out let it hit the bottom. Give it a two count and snap the jig up. You will be surprised how many you will hook with that one move. How many times you cast and go to feel for your lure and feel a fish let go? So I snap the rod and if nothing is there, I will just slowly real it in feeling for the bottom. Once they suck it up. I just start reeling faster. If you drop the rod tip to set a lot of the time they will spit it out. So if you feel that area is now covered, and you know fish are around there, but you and still only a few fish or nothing - Don't set it down yet!!!

For shad color I will mostly throw white and silver with a fluke or paddle tail bait. The most important part of the shad is to try to match the size. Bluegill is easy. <ost look the same in every lake and the come in all sizes. But a big twister tail is the key. Here are the reasons I throw heavy jigs. One they will punch the heavy coon tail. That's why I wait for a two count. If something heavy fell in the next room. What are you going to do? You will go look to see what it was. Give that bass a few seconds to find that bait. When you snap that rod they either have it or will suck it up when you pop it in their face.

Cont. on Pg. 8


If you are fishing clean bottom that heavy jig will leave a cloud when it hits also. More eye appeal. Of course, this is what's in my head. But as we know when money is on the line confidence in your gear and what your throwing is all that matters. So if you don't fish a jig or are new, try these few tips and boost your confidence in a jig. There is no other lure on the market that weighs in big bass after big bass pots like a jig.

. Cast up stream and drag slowly through the break point. A lot of times you'll catch 4-5 fish in a small area. Now if that isn't getting bit or its a grassy or soft bottom, I'll fish a swim jig 3/8-1/2-ounce, depending on current. I like white and perch color for this and I usually use a swimbait style trailer. I'll fish it with a steady retrieve with a few erratic rod twitches. And in between areas I'll fish it almost like a flippin’ jig to laydowns or behind rocks letting it fall then I’ll steadily reel back. Smallies like to follow baits back to the boat every now and again so I'll always watch behind and if they do I'll usually give it a quick twitch and a lot of times they'll slam it. Once the water reaches 50+ I'll speed up and add more twitches.

I like to get my jigs from makers. That way I can have them custom made to my liking and color. Two guys that do a great job for me is Trey Harpel at http:// Threeltuningandcleaning_LLC/Reel_Service.html And John DeMay at

Now when I'm fishing natural lakes early in the year when water temp is less then 50 degrees, the football head is my go to jig at this time. I'll focus on deeper water using electronics to find fish along steep drop offs next to big flats. I'll usually find a few. I'll use a 1ounce football head in a green pumpkin or brown with some orange. I like using a beaver style bait creates good bulk, but I'll thin the skirt on my jig a little bit. When the water’s cold I'll start out with a long cast, let it fall to the bottom, then slowly sweep my rod to the side and pause for a few seconds. Then I'll repeat back to the boat. It's boring but it will catch fish when the water’s in the 40s. Once the water hits the 50s I'll focus more on points going into spawning bays and the bays themselves. Now I will be throwing a ¾-oz because I'll be fishing in less then 15 feet of water or so. I'll just cast out and reel retrieve it back. Always keeping bottom contact is key. Once water hits about 55ish and the fish seem more aggressively feeding, I'll switch trailers to a rage craw for more action. Now for my all time favorite technique: the Flippin jig. I usually won't fish one until the water’s in the 50s, I use two colors once again. I keep colors pretty basic if you haven't noticed by now - Black and blue and green pumpkin in 3/8-1/2 ounce is my go to, and I use three different trailers: a normal zoom chunk, a super chunk (bulky not much action), and a net bait paca chunk with great kicking action. When the water is cold, I'll start out with a 3/8 and super chunk trailer for a real slow fall. I'll fish this on primary points by spawning grounds anytime there's a stump laydowns brush pile, dock, or on weed edges. . I’m basically target fishing. I'll pitch it out let it fall on slack line then I'll shake it in place with little twitches then pause for a bit then drag a couple feet and reel in and repeat. As water warms I'll speed it up. Once water hits 55, I'll throw a 1/2 with the paca chunk and I fish it rather fast, but the same way as when it's cold. A lot of times I'll play with trailers and drop rates until I figure out what works for the day.

Kyle Martinson

I'm 24 years old have been bass fishing the last 10 years or so and tournament fishing the last 3 years. My favourite water to fish is anywhere with current. I grew up fishing the northern parts of the Wisconsin river, but I also fish a lot of the deep clear natural lakes we have in North central Wisconsin. When I think pre spawn, it's hard for me to set down the jerkbait rod, but I always have a variety of jig rods on deck for different situations. When I'm fishing current-oriented places this time of year, I focus on current breaks in between spawning areas and wintering holes. The smallmouth will stack up in slack water waiting for food to get brought to them by the current. Most people will think visible current break,s but a lot of times underwater there are some of the best current breaks. Random holes on straight stretches or sudden changes in depth will create slack water underneath the surface. I like to use a football jig if the bottom is hard. . On these spots I'll use a ¾- to 1-ounce jig. I keep it simple with color. I use a black and blue or green pumpkin. I'll let the fish tell me what they want. I'll use a beaver style trailer for this.

Cont. on Pg. 9 8

Cont. from Pg. 8

And I can use that range all in the same situation, depending on what depth I want to be in the water column. If I’m looking for a reaction bite, I will use the ½ or ¾, versus an 1/8 ounce that might be a foot down, but it would be a much slower retrieve. So I base my swim jig retrieve on how fast I’m reeling through the zone.

Now for swim jigs: other than on the river, I don't have a ton of experience with fishing them but during pre spawn there's a few lakes up north that have deep pencil reeds that go for a long way. My favorite way to pick them apart would be a 1/4 Oz swim jig in a blue gill or perch pattern with either a grub trailer or swimbait trailer. I'll whip it as far into the reeds as possible and use a steady retrieve while twitching the rod tip forward and back. One second you'll catch a nice largemouth and the next cast a road smallie in the same area, can be a lot of fun.

For colors on jigs, I pretty much keep my colors, across the board, pretty simple. The reason why I do that is I don’t want to have to make decisions on the water like this one is a little more green or this one has a little more white. I just want to keep it really simple: black, blue, green pumpkin and brown. That just goes across the board with everything. I don’t want to have to worry about colors. And sometimes I base it on water clarity, but I pretty much use the same colors in all clarity. In stained water, a foot or less, I like black and blue, maybe a Texas craw kind of color – a lot of black and some chartreuse strands in there. For cloudy water, about 2 feet of visibility or so, I like incorporating a green pumpkin. Then in in clearer water, green pumpkin, blue/black and the brown. Maybe I’ll want some orange in there, especially on crawfish lakes.

Chris Fredrick

Football jigs is pretty much the same thing. But if it’s really skinny water, I don’t use a football. I use it more like a crankbait. I keep it moving. Where a lot of guys crawl it back, I am more of a power fisherman. I want that thing moving typically. I might go to a 1 ½ ounce football head to keep it on the bottom or close to the bottom. So, black and blue, Texas Craw, green pumpkin for football heads. Or brown if it’s clearer. But I don’t use football heads in stained water. Then I’m typically fishing shallow.

I have been fishing tournaments since 2004 and am a club member of Great Lakes Bass Anglers, which is the biggest club in the state with about 50 members. I have won 4 angler of the year trophies in different clubs and have been on state team 2 times. I won Mr. Bass in 2016 and the UMBCS Championship in Minocqua in 2012. Won UMBCS tournaments and club championship last year out of Oconto. Fish Cabela’s circuit with Ron Twardowski. We haven’t won yet, but have been very close. To be honest, I don’t throw a jig a ton. I throw it sparingly. But I do use them. Last year on the regional team for Wisconsin, I caught all my fish on a jig. For flipping, I probably use the flipping and swim jig the most. I use around the 3/8 mark for around docks and logs. Something that’s not too snaggy. I like that weight for the skipping ability and getting a little more precise. But if you’re fishing brush line cover or maybe knarly weeds, maybe it’s plunking and stuff like that, I’ll go to between ½ and ¾ or up to an ounce. I use higher weights for those situations. But 3/8 or maybe even ¼ for a little softer approach.

For swim jigs I might incorporate more color, but not much more. Typically, it will be more white or chartreuse. But for stained water, black and blue, chartreuse – for clearer water, I’ll use more along the brown and green pumpkin line. That Kizewgill color is a great clear water color. For trailers, flipping is pretty simple. I use either a chigger craw or a paca chunk. I like to keep my jigs more compact. Once in a while I’ll use a twin tail if I’m using it in a swimming motion. For football heads, I’ll use a paca chunk junior, or once in a while a twin tail. Sometimes I’ll use a hyper tail grub if it’s more of a swimming action that I’m using. For a swim jig, I’ll use a Keitech or a skinny Dipper or once in a while a twin tail grub if I want to keep it in the water column a little higher and give it a little more lift.

Swim jigs: I would say out of all of the categories, I would use the swim jig the most. And for weight, it can vary a lot. I would classify my jig weights based on what speed I want and how far I want it to go down. So my range is 1/8 – ¾ of an ounce. 9

There are a few of these medium size tournaments that really pay well and are backed by quite a few nice sponsors- you just need to look around and keep your options open when choosing the right tournament- or the right tournament trail for you.

For where I fish them, flipping jigs I use for logs and bushes with the smaller weight. Weedlines, I’ll use 1/2 – ¾ ounce, maybe 1 ounce if it’s needed to get through cover. Football jigs, I use on maybe a drop off or rock pile – something structure related. And I will use a swim jig like a spinnerbait. So, a lot of spinner bait water, I’ll use a swim jig. If I’m covering a weed flat or prefishing and trying to narrow it down, covering that area with a swim jig, I’ll use it for a search bait.

Once you get on the water and are at your first spot- fish to your strengths. Yes, you should take into account the weather conditions, and time of the year- there are many things that can affect the fishing. BUT ALWAYS fish to your strengths. That is, fish the way you are most comfortable. You will enjoy yourself more that way and largely will be more successful in the long run.

While many anglers fish with the same bait, they often do so with minor difference. Bait of the Month looks to bring those differences to readers, perhaps sparking new ideas for your next fishing trip.

Fishing Tournaments

In practice- and you should get on the water before the tournament- practice fishing some different things that you normally don't useor methods that you are not strong in. This is the time to try different things- if they work- incorporate them in the tournament day. Tournament day is NOT the time to try new things you are unsure of- there simply is not enough time in the day.

By Mike Hofmann—Secret Weapon Baits

You will find that when fishing in the tournaments that are located around you, you will make many friends! Listen to the people you meet- there will be some handy information to be gleaned from the teams that have been in it for years.

Fishing tournaments can be an exhilarating experience. In a single day, you can go from very high expectations (sometimes fulfilled) to lowest lows (also fulfilled more times than not).

Most important- When you win- be gracious to those you fished against. Keep in mind you will not win all of them. AND when you lose- stick around, congratulate those that did well. You will be in that spot again. Be friendly! Network!

Many first time tournament teams (I will focus on team tournaments) really don't know what to expect. A few of them seem to be overwhelmed by the whole event. They don't realize that it is not like just going out and fishing- there are a lot more boats on the water- all fishing for the same fish!

Cont. on Pg. 11

The beginning teams, those that are just getting into the swing of things, should start with tournaments that have low entry fees, and have a field not larger than 50 boats (teams). In this way there is a decent payback should you place high enough, but you won’t get crowded out on the water. Often, these type of tournaments are closer to home as well so you can eliminate many of the high expenses of travel- overnight stays etc. 10

Cont. from Pg. 10

Spring hearings are next month

If you are just getting into tournament fishing, and you do not know what to expect at your first tournament here are a few things to keep in mind:

Each year the DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress hold a spring fisheries and wildlife hearing in each county across Wisconsin. Stakeholders are asked to come to those meeting to fill out a sometimes-lengthy questionnaire asking questions about managing fishing, hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. These meetings are the public’s chance to help guide the DNR on topics that affect management of the state’s resources.

1. Make sure if you KNOW you are going to fish the tournament, get your entry in early. Most tournaments will “lock” your boat number in by postmark. The earlier you get your entry fee in the lower your starting number on tournament day. While many tournaments are won by those that are near the end of the field, it sure is a good feeling knowing you have a great shot to get to your “best” spot first thing in the morning….

Sadly, these meetings are never well-attended. What that means is a very few people are advising the DNR regarding how our natural resources (including fish and wildlife) should be managed. While the questionnaire is fairly long, at 54 questions this year, there is likely something of interest to every outdoorsman within its pages.

2. It also helps getting your entry in early by not having to spend the time filling out the entry form in the dark at registration or check in in the morning. If you are already in, most times you simply have to “check in”.

Citizen resolutions are also accepted in each county. These resolutions are drafted by a resident of the county and asked of all those who attend that county’s meeting in April. If the resolution passes in that county, it can then move on to the state level, where everyone in the state will weigh in on it. From there, it may go through the process to become a DNR rule. Each year some great resolutions come up through that process. But each year some very “interesting” resolutions are also presented. The problem with that is, if we are not at the meetings, if attendance stays low, one crack pot with a half-baked idea could bring his/her friends and get a citizen resolution passed at the county level, which would then move on to be voted upon by everyone in the state. From there it may or may not get shot down. Again, it depends on who attends the meetings. It is a frightening prospect, but it can happen. There are rules already on the book anglers think are “stupid” or that should not be. It is likely many of those rules were voted upon at the spring hearings. Yet the same people who are disgruntled with the rules in place, have never attended a spring hearing, nor do the intend to in the future. The DNR and WCC spring hearings are the one place all stakeholders have to make their voices heard. Yet very few of us take that opportunity.

3. All tournaments will go over the rules before takeoff. MAKE SURE you are listening to the tournament director when he or she goes over the rules. Having a great catch disqualified for the day because of a rules infraction is never fun. PAY ATTENTION. 4. Your boat. You need a boat with an adequate “Livewell” that means a livewell that can keep the catch alive all day long so they can be released later alive. Your boat also needs to have a “kill switch”. That’s a safety issue, as is the requirement to have a throwable life cushion on board. Most boats that will be used for tournaments will have these. But just make sure. If you are unsure if your boat will make it through the check in process, talk to the tournament director days in advance and go over what is required. In addition some bodies of water will require flares and other things like strobe lights in order for you to go out on the water.

The spring hearings are held on the first Monday of every April at 7 p.m. in each county. A full list of meeting places for each county can be found on the DNR website by searching “spring hearings.” Attendees need not stay for the entire meeting. Many stakeholders simply stop at the meeting location, fill out the questionnaire, and go on their way. The full questionnaire can also be found on the DNR website so attendees can have their answers ready

This is a fantastic, FUN, sport. If you have not tried tournament fishing- especially team tournament fishing for bass, give it a try!


Cont. from Pg. 11

Launch Ramp Etiquette

us take that opportunity.

By Terry Ellis—Motley Fishing

The spring hearings are held on the first Monday of every April at 7 p.m. in each county. A full list of meeting places for each county can be found on the DNR website by searching “spring hearings.” Attendees need not stay for the entire meeting. Many stakeholders simply stop at the meeting location, fill out the questionnaire, and go on their way. The full questionnaire can also be found on the DNR website so attendees can have their answers ready when they get to the meeting site, which saves time reading all of the questions that night.

You pull up to your favorite lake. One person is backed up to the launch already. You prepare your boat for launch and then climb in to your truck and wait, and wait and wait. As five or ten minutes go by the other person at the ramp has still not backed their boat in to the water. Finally after 15 min or so the boat is finally off their trailer.

The other day as I was pulling my boat out of the water, as the next person looked eager to back in. They were practically right in front of me and as I pulled out I had to go around them to park the truck and tie down the boat. Not that big of deal, they seemed like they were in a hurry to get fishing. Well as I climbed out of the truck, they back up to the ramp and get out to load the boat with tackle and other fishing stuff. Now if someone else was ready to come off the lake, they would have to wait there.

when they get to the meeting site, which saves time reading all of the questions that night. There are a few questions this year that relate specifically to bass that will be of special interest to readers. One question asks whether the state should have no closed season on bass, but allow harvest only during the season as it sits now. The season that is currently closed would be catch and release only.

Last year I pulled in to the same lake and prepared my boat for launch. At the ramp there was a truck parked with the boat on the trailer and another in the driver’s seat. As I waited for a few minutes I asked the guy if he was leaving or launching his boat. To my surprise another guy was actually just leaning up against his boat talking to another person.

Another question pertaining to bass has to do with an alternative size limit for permitted tournaments. This proposed rule would specifically affect lakes with a 1 over 18 bag limit. It would allow a permitted tournament to allow anglers to keep 5 over 14 in their livewell as long as the fish were released back into the same water.

I am sure some of you can relate to this. I know there are times when things don’t go as planned or you may have forgotten something. As we all know the boat does not always load correctly or maybe you forgot a strap prior to backing it in the water.

The last bass-related question is one that has many anglers up in arms. It asks for a 14-inch 3-fish limit on largemouth statewide. With a combined bag of smallmouth and largemouth, a tournament angler could still bring in 5 fish, but only 3 of them could be largemouth. This could have big implications for tournaments in the state.

But mostly when you are at the boat launch common courtesy and common sense should just play a roll. Think of others as you prepare your boat to get in the lake and after you pull in out of the water. Always park away from the ramp or be next in line to undo your straps and get items in the boat prior to backing it to the ramp. Do not do this in front of the ramp clogging it so the next guy cannot go if you’re not ready yet. Also make sure if you need a rope on the front to launch it, dig that out as well.

Anglers are encouraged to go to the DNR website to find the meeting place in their county and to at least stop by and fill out the questionnaire, regardless of whether or not they stay for the meeting. Delegates to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will also be voted for at this meeting. Individuals may fill out the questionnaire in any county, but may only vote for Conservation Congress delegates in their county of residence.

It also goes for pulling out your boat... Once the boat is loaded, don’t just pull it out of the water and get it ready to head home, go park in a parking spot out of the way. So the next time you’re at the boat launch, consider others. Prepare your boat ahead of time prior to backing it down to the water. Everyone may be happier. Terry Ellis


What’s on the Graph? By Gregg Kizewski—Super K Jigs Gregg Kizewski is a long-time tournament angler and jig maker. He owns Super K Jigs in St. Germain. He is one of the best at reading electronics and is quick to share his knowledge with others. Last fall he took to Little St. Germain Lake and shared his experience on the lake with others. Here was the result:

I got a chance to get out on Little St. Germain Lake today for 3 hours, and had an amazing time! About 70% or more of the docks have been pulled out and that is congregating fish to deeper cover. Although I caught a few fish in Coontail in 9' to 13' of water, mother loads of fish were on deep cribs, trees and wood, in depths of 14' to 22' of water. Pictures are captioned. I did catch some smallies on rock, but was stuck on cookie cutter 2.5 lb fish, so I went exploring. Lake water clarity is stained from decaying weeds.

This large tree held the biggest largemouth of the day at 4.31 pounds.

These deep Christmas trees were on fire!

2D im-

This was by far the top producer today—more fish on this sunken dock than I have seen on a piece of cover in a long time!

age of the sunken dock—loaded with fish.


Women on the Water with Samantha Sukupcak

“I think sometimes you have too much going on,” she said. “You have too much going through your head. And then you’re in the back of the boat, especially on rough water days, you can just fish. Last year Sukupcak qualified for regionals on Toledo Bend, a tournament that just ended at this writing. She was doing a good deal of lake study at the time of this interview, but she said it would be a fast learning curve as a team once they all got down to Toledo Bend. She said, although it was a bigger tournament, she would approach it just like any other body of water she had not fished before. “I will also look at other tournaments,” she said. “What people were throwing, what worked there… There was just a college tournament down there, so I’ll look at what was working there, too.” This, she said, would give her an idea of where to start, but the real work would begin when she saw the water for the first time. She fished the tournament as a nonboater, so she would be “along for the ride” in many respects. She said she does better when she just goes fishing, rather than put too much pressure on herself. She said she planned to treat regionals just like any other tournament – just a day of fishing. Most of the anglers she has come across, she said, have been “awesome” and very supportive of her being a woman and fishing tournaments at the level that she does. The people she keeps in contact with, she said, have been very helpful and think it is great that she is involved in the sport.

Samantha Sukupcak has been fishing most of her life. Her grandfather started her off and later her aunt married a man who was heavy into bass fishing. So her uncle would take her out in canoes and pontoon boats. One day, when she was about 20, she decided she wanted to fish a bass tournament. At that point she signed up for a Weekend Series tournament.

“Probably the biggest factor, and maybe this is a little more for women, but for anyone new to tournament fishing, is asking questions,” she said. “You don’t want to feel like you are the stupid one in the boat, you know? But I think that’s always a hurdle to overcome for anyone knew to tournament fishing, especially if you don’t know anybody who does tournaments.” She said she went about it differently than most people. Where most people will start out joining a club and learning about tournaments that way, then move on to bigger tournaments, she started with the Weekend Series. The fact that she knew no one at all was a hurdle for her to overcome.

“I had no idea what to expect,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody there. I remember it was on the Madison Chain and I showed up and I was kind of like the only woman. There might have been one other woman there. Everyone was like, ‘Why are you sitting in on the rules briefing?’ and I told them I was fishing,” she laughed. “I got some interesting looks, but it was fun.” She said she did not weigh a fish that day, but she had a great time. The boater she was paired with offered to take her under his wing and show her the ropes and how to pre-fish. From there, she was hooked on tournament bass fishing. The second tournament she fished, that same boater introduced her to members of Bass Anglers, Ltd., the club she still fishes with today. Sukupcak now fishes club tournaments as a boater. She made the change because she likes being in the front of the boat. . She and her boyfriend both fish, but neither enjoys the back of the boat. So now she runs her own boat. While she enjoys the advantages of being a boater, she knows there are some limitations, too.


Cont. from Pg. 14

Schoolin’ Bass—Mike Anderson and the Oshkosh Fishing Team

“I think some of the misconceptions women have that might keep them out of the sport,” Sukupcak said. “Is – we’re fishing geeks. I mean, we’re talking about gear ratios on reels, the difference between 30 pound test and 20 pound test braid. Bass people, we get really technically, and I think that can be a little overwhelming instead of here’s a rod and reel and go fish. And some of the feedback I’ve gotten, too, from the women’s group I fish with is that sometimes guys can just be arrogant. And that’s offputting. Sometimes I think it’s just guys want to show off.” For people who have never fished bass, she said, it can be difficult to assimilate all of the technical jargon. She said keeping it simple is the best way to start and then pick up more knowledge as time goes on. “For a new person, if you’re completely new to bass fishing, I would say don’t fish a tournament first,” Sukupcak laughed. “But you need to have patience (with new people).” She told a story of a woman she fished with who didn’t go our fishing because her husband would yell at her for getting snagged. “It grates on my nerves. I have never been flat-out yelled at. I’ve seen frustration on my boater’s face when I get snagged, but I’ve never been yelled at.” She said having patience when there is a new person in the boat is paramount. New people, she said, are going to backlash. They are going to get stuck. It is going to happen, so being prepared for that going in will help both people enjoy the day more. Setting expectations, she said, is important, and having the right frame of mind.

Mike Anderson from Lake Tomahawk fished with the Hodag Bassmasters in Rhinelander for several years before heading off to college at UW-Oshkosh. Oshkosh had a fishing team, but it had folded the year before Anderson went to college. Determined to follow his love of fishing in college, he decided to resurrect the team. In the fall of 2015, Anderson talked to the old fishing team advisor, who told him he could restart the team. In January of 2016, he founded the Oshkosh Fishing Team, which started with approximately a dozen members, but has grown to over 20 members now. The team fishes both the FLW and Bassmaster College Series tournaments.

In 2019, she would like to fish the NABC and Anglers’ Choice, but for now she is just fishing club tournaments due to work commitments. She and her boyfriend will also pick up some opens that work with their schedules, she said. When she looks at moving on in tournament fishing, she would like to see where she can take it, but for now it is about having fun and networking.

“I would say we’ve done very average,” Anderson joked of the young team’s successes thus far. “But it’s been a great learning experience. Oshkosh has a unique aspect that a lot of the kids are first generation. It’s a big walleye community, so bass fishing isn’t as large as some of the other colleges in the state.” The team also participates in the Battle on Bago and they do different community service projects. Last year the team held a kids’ fishing day with another organization in Oshkosh and also did a shoreline clean up. Cont. on Pg. 16


Cont. from Pg. 15

College fishing, he said, is very affordable, which is nice for the student budget. Many companies are willing to give sponsorships to serious college anglers, which brings the price of gear to a point where there is little barrier of entry into the sport for most college anglers. Some universities also give a travel stipend to students. Anderson said, with the number of schools who have fishing teams now, there is no reason to have to go to a college across the country, if a person does not want to. However, he said, going to a college with an established team will allow newer anglers to learn from others, which he believes is also very important. Upon graduation, Anderson hopes to move to Tennessee to be closer to some of his favorite lakes and to continue his fishing career. He will be leaving behind the Oshkosh Fishing Team as his legacy to his alma mater.

clean up. “There are a ton of benefits of being on the fishing team,” he said. “For one, you would never meet those other outdoors kids on campus. Everyone is kind of going their own direction, with different majors. So it brings everyone together like that.” He said being part of large organizations such as Bassmaster and FLW gives college anglers a taste of what the professionals are doing, but at a very affordable cost. Getting involved on campus, in general, he said, is very beneficial as many of the kids involved in the team may not have been involved in any other team or group if it were not for the fishing team. “When I first started this, I drug my roommate into joining the team, of course, like any good roommate would,” Anderson said. “From there social media was a huge platform. We used the campus email. There was a lot of word of mouth. There was also a lot of face-to-face communication in the dorms.” He said right away at least a dozen guys interested. He said it was mostly kids from small towns where fishing was a big part of their lives growing up. Those kids, he said, were looking for something outdoorsy to do.

Looking to fish some Opens? Here are a few to consider. More information about each can be found on each club Facebook page

“It was a culture shock, moving to college fishing,” he said of the move from club fishing to what he is doing now. “First of all, the fields are huge. College fishing has grown astronomically over the past few years. The last tournament I fished against 248 teams, which is a little different than back home.” The lakes, too, are very different, he said. The sheer size of the bodies of water he and his team fish at these bigger events forced him to learn to break down bigger bodies of water and learn how to fish them effectively. The competition, too, is much stiffer, with some of the college anglers having professional anglers as parents.

 Waupaca Bass Club 40th annual Wolf River Open

- June 2. Search Winneconne Open on Facebook  River Country Opens: The Frigid Open - on Lake

Puckaway. April 21.  River Country Open: Buffalo Lake - April 22  River Country Open: Green Lake - June 2. See

the River Country Facebook page for info on all of these tournaments.  Shawano Red Nek Spring Open - Shawano Lake -

“My first tournament was Table Rock in Missouri, and I knew a lot less back then than I do now,” Anderson said, laughing. “I just tried to get my hands on as much information as I could before I went. Then I just started fishing chunk rock and transitions. I think now I put a lot more technical effort in.” He said there are many different skill levels in college fishing, which makes it fun.

June 9. See the Shawano Red Nek Facebook page for more info on this Open.  Antigo Bass Warriors - Battle on the Chain -

Three Lakes Chain. June 17. See the Bass Warriors Facebook page for more info.  Don’s Marine Frog Only Open - Lake Wisconsin -

July 15.  Big Bass Bash. Lake Mendota - June 24


Off the Back Deck: Competing as a co-angler with Cody Shaw

“The BFLs are held where there are a lot of shad, so you bring stuff like that. Swim jigs work awesome. Tubes work awesome. You always being frogs, top waters, things like that.” His biggest fish in the first BFL he won on the coangler side came off of a frog, he said. He was throwing it like a top water, out in open water. From there he learned to always have a top water on hand. “But that’s kind of how you prep. There’s staples on the Mississippi River.” Shaw said the biggest thing when fishing out of the back of the boat is to rely on confidence baits. “First off, when you’re behind a guy, they never hit every target,” he said of fishing behind someone who believes they hit every target as the boat goes down a shoreline, for example. “There is always something that is missed. Guys need to pay attention. And, a lot of times, it could be just a bait difference. They could be flipping a jig and I’m flipping a tube.” He said, with the Mississippi River, where he was a co -angler in the BFLs, there is so much to fish the nonboater will have plenty to cast at if he pays attention. “A guy isn’t going to take that much time to hit everything, especially on the Mississippi River where they are always biting somewhere.”

Fishing as a nonboater can have its own set of challenges. Fishing behind a boater who picks apart every piece of cover can make for a long day. But there are ways to combat that and still have a successful day on the water. Twenty-six-year -old co-angler Cody Shaw explains how he handles fishing Off the Back Deck.

Other times, the boater will be fishing an area rather than just specific targets. He gave the example of a field of weeds where the fish are scattered in a 50-foot area. As long as he was able to get his bait near one of those fish, he could catch them. Understanding what the boater was doing was also helpful, he said.

Shaw lives in Fond du Lac and has been fishing since he was eleven or twelve, and has been fishing tournaments since that time. He took some time off in high school, but then started fishing tournaments again at the age of 17. He started fishing the BFLs as a co-angler and did that for six years. Now he fishes Angler’s Choice and would like to switch to the boater side of the BFLs and work his way up from there.

Shaw contributed part of his success from the back of the boat to the fact that he is a boater in other tournaments. He fishes as a boater in club tournaments and said that helped him understand what the boater was doing and why. He could then attack the situation a little bit differently. Whether that means fishing a different part of a weed bed or brush pile, or using a bit different bait, doing something just a bit different can bring success.

He learned a great deal as a co-angler in the BFL. He learned what works, but also what not to do, he said. In prepping for a tournament as a co-angler, Shaw said he always has a set type of confidence bait that he brings along. From there, he would ask his boater what he felt was working.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as, this guy is flipping the edge of the brush, so you have to flip in the middle and just hope you can get them out.”

“The biggest thing is you always want to do something similar that’s working, because obviously it’s working for those guys,” Shaw said. “But you also want to just do something a little different. So, at the BFLs, you find out your guy at the pretournament meeting, and that’s where I ask what they are doing.” He only brings four or five rods, he said, and a tackle bag with a couple of boxes and plastics. He keeps it to the basics, the baits he knows he is going to use.

The biggest thing, he said, is for a nonboater to use a bait he has confidence in. He gave an example of a time when he was catching fish and the pro in the boat was not. In one tournament, he said, the pro was throwing a frog, but they were not eating it. While the boater was determined for force-feed the fish a frog, he picked up a punch bait and started catching fish.


Cont. from Pg. 17

“My boater had 14 pounds, and I had 17 because I got that one big kicker.” He said of day two. “It was the way I love to fish, and my boater left a lot of openings for me because he was throwing a spinner bait. And that’s why I say, even though these guys are some of the best in the state, they will miss things.” Nonboaters, he said, just need to be aware and see those things that are left. Shaw’s boater left flipping wood open for him, and he capitalized on that. The best part of the tournament, he said, was having his family at weigh in when he got back to the scales.

“You’re at their mercy, though,” he said. “If they aren’t on fish, you’re not going to catch them anyway. It’s not like you as a co-angler can say let’s go do this differently or let’s go here. So that can be tough.” It can also be difficult, he said, when you have an area where you’ve caught fish and the boater doesn’t have confidence in it and will not change what he is doing. “One boater asked me if I pre-fished or I where I wanted to go. I told him I was just a pawn in this chess game. You don’t get to make those decisions.” He warned against memories and fishing history, too. He said, just because you catch fish really well in one place with one boater in the spring, it does not mean the fish will be there in the fall.

For those looking to get into BFLs or bigger tournaments, one thing that helped a lot, he said, was having travel buddies. Rooming with another angler, or a group of anglers, will help cut costs. His advice on tackle was to just keep it simple. Again, he reiterated, having a confidence bait is key. Throwing something a bit different than the boater is throwing and something he has confidence in was most important.

“The most memorable tournament was my second BFL win,” he said. “It was a two-dayer. The fifth BFL is always a twodayer. I drew one of our good friends the first day. IT was cold and windy. It was a crappy day, and I think it was the opening of duck season. On the first day, I finished with a 10.05 or something. It was a small limit, but it put me in fourth place.” He said the leader had about a four-pound cushion on him, but he felt okay going into the second day as it was a tough day on the water for all of the co-anglers.

“And be courteous, too,” he said. “You can make a boater mad, you know. And make sure you offer to pay for some gas. Some guys won’t even accept it, but they will be happy you offered. Just be courteous, and be nice. And ask questions, too. Most of those guys will be happy to tell you.” He said he learned a lot by asking questions and he could take that knowledge and use it in other tournaments.

“The second day I drew a river rat named Brian Fitzpatrick. He is known for just being an awesome stick. He’s always top ten, even top five. He’s always in the mix. We ran to the back of this little cut. I’ll never forget, the other guy who showed up in this same cut, his name is Jimmy Johnson. He’s one of the best anglers on the Mississippi River.” Shaw was a bit shocked to see Johnson, as he had never fished in the same area as this competitor. It was then he knew he must be in a good area. He caught a three-pounder on a sim jig while the other two anglers were talking. “I didn’t call for the net or anything,” he said, remembering the day. “I put it in the box, and I was like hey, how do you turn on the livewells? He asked why I wanted to do that and I told him I already had one in the box. So he tells me next time call for the net, you know?” The water was cooling back in a back-water slough and the fish were moving to their wintering holes. The fish were staging on every little piece of brush in the slough, he said. Shaw picked up a tube bait, his confidence bait, and did not put it down the rest of the day. His big fish was approximately 4.5 pounds, he said, and he brought over 17 pounds to the scales that second day. He wound up winning the two-day tournament by 7 pounds.


Angler Determination – Justin Koput’s Journey Back to the Water

“I started to follow a chalk line cutting it with a razor blade on the roof,” he said. “When I tilted my head to the left, I felt like someone stabbed me in the head. I kind of stepped back and one of the guys made a comment and asked me why I was confused. I told him I had head pain.” On the advice of his father, Koput started out with chiropractic care. Having ran motocross and played semi-professional football, he was no stranger to neck injuries that could cause the symptoms he was feeling. Chiropractic care, though, did not change anything. “I went home and I was texting my girlfriend. She was at work,” he said, thinking back to the day when things really started to go wrong. “She said my text messages weren’t making sense really. So she wanted to come home and check on me.” Koput said he got up to go to the bathroom and he fell into the wall. He couldn’t see the fish or deer mounts on the wall. He told his Jessica, his girlfriend, that he could not see anything. She immediately brought him to Beaver Dam hospital. At the hospital, he told the doctors his arms were going numb and he was losing his vision. They gave him a pill and told him he should be fine in about 15 minutes. If that was the case, and his headache calmed down, they would be able to send him home. At that point, he started vomiting and Jessica asked them to do a brain scan.

So often we take things for granted, whether that is the comforts we enjoy every day, the time we have to get things done, or the people in our lives. But occasionally something happens that puts it all into perspective. It may happen to us, or to someone we know. Those events change lives. They bring a new focus, and they heighten determination. Recently one such incident happened to tournament angler Justin Koput.

“The next thing I remember they were flying me on Flight for Life,” Koput said. “They said I had bleeding on the brain.” He was flown to Madison. The first few days were a blur, he said, and he vaguely remembers family coming in and out of his hospital room. “I remember the doctor coming in and saying I had a rare form of an aneurysm. It’s called a blister on the brain. He said that it was more difficult than just a normal one to operate on and kind of said you have a higher risk that something could happen.” He said the doctor told him he had a high degree of confidence, however, that Koput would come out of the surgery just fine. At that point, there was no choice and the surgery was scheduled.

Koput grew up in Mayville and now lives in Beaver Dam with his girlfriend and kids. He is a roofer by trade, but takes every opportunity to hit the water and do some fishing. He has been fishing since he was about six. When he was a kid, he won a fisheree with a 32-inch northern. From there he was hooked. He has been tournament fishing for three years, fishing opens and the Northern Wisconsin Angler’s Choice circuit. Not long ago, however, he was unsure whether he would get back on the water again.

“I was in shock at first, and it was kind of hard because my kids were there,” he said when he found out how serious his situation was. “They brought them up to see me the day before the surgery, and that was the hardest.

Last year, Koput started getting migraines. They got so bad that he took two days off of work. The third day, he woke up feeling great and full of energy.

Cont. on Pg. 20 19

Obviously, you don’t know if it’s going to be the last time, or how it’s going to work out. Is this going to be the last time I see my kids? That was my thought.” He had many scared thoughts, but at the same time he tried to remain positive. He knew he could not get up and run out of the hospital and he had to let the doctor do his job. All he could do way pray to God that everything turned out well.

“I was in ICU for about two weeks after the surgery and then they put me into a normal hospital room,” he said. Total, he was in the hospital almost a month. “The whole recovery process, I still obviously have my issues, but they said it could be six months to a year to get back to normal. I still have days now where I have head spasms, where you have nerves shooting and stuff.” He said it is off and on and he was told it was just part of the recovery.

Justin Koput recovering in the hospital after his surgery.

After almost a month, Koput was released from the hospital, with more recovery time needed. The odds of something like this happening to him again, his doctors said, were fairly low. In the surgery, they did a double bypass and clamed off the blister on the aneurism. The doctor told Koput there was a chance, if he didn’t do the bypass, it could happen again on the other side when he was older. With the bypass being done, he said, the odds of it happening again is very rare. Every year, though, he needs to get an angiogram to keep an eye on it. He still has some restrictions on lifting, but he can do just about anything. His recovery has been much quicker than his doctor expected, and he is very positive about his future.

Koput’s friends, family, and the angling community have come together to help Koput and his family.

Cont. on Pg. 21

Eventually he was moved to a regular room from ICU and was able to take walks through the hospital.


Mapping Success with Brad Werner

While he was still in the hospital, he messaged a friend, Brad Kuechler, and said he would like to throw together a tournament, just for fun, as a way to move on from this health scare and to just get back on the water again. “I said I’d like to get all the guys together that we’ve met through bass fishing and just go out and have a fun day of fishing. Brad said yeah, that would be great. Then he came up with the idea to turn it into a benefit.” From there a Facebook page was born and more and more people started to get involved. “It was crazy,” he said. “It felt like a big relief. It’s hard to explain. As far as fishing, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be out in my boat that early. I was just like – this is such a huge relief to be able to do that again. I don’t know, it was just so crazy to take that all in. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to do that again.” This year he wants to fish Angler’s Choice again and to fish some opens in the area. His main focus will be Angler’ Choice and try to do well in that. Next year, when things are more stable, he said he would like to try to fish some either FLW or Bassmaster Opens tournaments for the experience of fishing those bigger tournaments.

Brad Werner has been tournament fishing for 25 + years, and has had success and failures in all aspects. He took a 15 yr. (give or take) vacation from it to give his son what he needed. He has always fished one favorite tournament however. Now he is back at it with my fingers crossed. Brad was given a lake map with little other information about the lake. He had only the map, and these instructions and was asked to break down how he would fish it:

Koput said he was not sure what was going on when his whole health scare started, and he tells people now to be sure to go in and have it checked out. He put his headaches off for a while and thought it was something normal. Most people, his doctor said, do not know they have an aneurysm, and that is why they wind up dying from them. His advice to anyone with undiagnosed headaches is to go and get a brain scan. Go to the doctor and see what is going on, he said. If it were not for Jessica bringing him in, this story could have had a much different ending. Instead, it continues on with Koput on the water and enjoying his family for years to come.

March’s Mystery Lake is located in Northwestern Wisconsin. It is 661 acres with a maximum depth of 43 feet and a mean depth of 8 feet. It is managed for northern pike, largemouth and panfish. Largemouth are common in the lake. Smallmouth are not listed as being in the lake RE: DNR surveys. The most abundant category of largemouth in a 2010 DNR electrofishing survey was the 15-19 inch category. It is a manmade flowage, created in the 1960s. The bottom composition is 60% sand, 10% gravel and 30% muck. The water clarity is low. The lake has been called a structure fisherman’s dream, but can be a boater’s nightmare. The lake has submergent, emergent and floating vegetation as shown on the accompanying map, but is somewhat limited. 21

There are several islands throughout the lake. The DNR lists the lake as being in a eutrophic state, meaning the water clarity is low and the nutrient level of the lake is high.

Wernerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s response: I'm starting at the tip of the peninsula south of boat landing 1. I'll be using a jerkbait to start. If no response, I'll go with a larger 15' crank. If still no response...Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m reaching for plastics in the form of craws. As Sun comes up and warms water, I'm edging in to bay behind landing 1. If I'm not locating cruising males I'm heading north and east toward the dam and working drops near the main flat, focusing on secondary points with larger swimbaits and jigs. After that tournament is over, I reflect. Did I match the hatch colors or did I not? Bigger baits this time of year are best.

You are looking at this map to pre-fish a tournament in the spring, pre-spawn. How will you approach this lake, based on the map, knowing what you know from the information above? Where will you start? Where will you go from there? What will be your go-to baits?


Thank you so much for reading the first edition of Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine. I look forward to hearing your feedback. If you are a tournament angler in Wisconsin, please consider this your magazine and let me know what you want to see more or less of. Other features are planned as the fishing season kicks off. Those include: Tournament winners Winning baits Club features Break the Lake (similar to Bassmasterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s A Day on the Lake) A brag board And classified ads.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you on the water this summer!


Wisconsin Tournament Angler March Edition  
Wisconsin Tournament Angler March Edition  

The first edition of Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine.