This weekend the Central Wisconsin River Series anglers will take to the Minocqua chain for its championship tournament. This is the fifth year of the River Series, as it is more commonly known, and the Minocqua chain always provides an interesting tournament. While there are big largemouth still in Lake Minocqua and Kawaguesaga, and pig smallmouth roam the depths of Lake Tomahawk, catching them can prove tricky. To hook into a good smallmouth, fishing deep is a necessity. I was out last weekend with a friend who was prefishing for this weekend's tournament, and we were marking fish anywhere from 25 to 60 feet. Obviously, without hooking one or two it is difficult to say if they were smallies or walleyes, but the point is the fish were deep. I have not been on Minocqua or Kawaguesaga lately, but I would imagine they will fish similar to the norm. The problem, I think, will be those two lakes will "fish small," meaning there will be more competition for the best spots on the lake. Most anglers in the field have a good idea of the fish-holding water on these lakes. There are really no secrets on those two lakes, I don't think. Anglers all seem to share the same points and weed beds, for the most part, with a few finding something a bit different. That ability to find some little thing could make a big difference in cashing a check or simply making up the pot.
This is two-day tournament, so finding something on Day 2 that has not been beat to death, as we say, could prove challenging. All of the fish will be released on Lake Minocqua, so some of those may find their way back to their homes by Sunday sometime. The question will be whether or not they are willing to bite again the next day. For fish caught out of Lake Tomahawk, while most of them will eventually find their way back there, it certainly will not be before this tournament is done. Studies have been done out west showing that fish do eventually find their way back to where they started, for the most part, but it has never been determined how long that takes and what factors may expedite or delay that process. I mention that because of the Upper Midwest Bass Challenge Tournament of Champions in October. It would be interesting to know if any of those fish caught on Lake Tomahawk have made their way back to where they started and are caught again by those anglers in that tournament. There will be no real way to tell, but I think it would be interesting to many anglers.
I would imagine the majority of the teams in the field will bring in a 5-fish limit. The tournament has a self-imposed 12-inch size limit, even though there is no minimum length for harvest of bass on the chain. Many tournaments will still impose a 14-inch minimum, as that is the state minimum on all but special-regulation waters. However, the River Series decided to go with a 12-inch limit, viewing it as a "happy medium." With the smaller size limit, I would imagine most teams will fill a limit. But still, catching the big ones will be the trick. Tournaments on the chain have been won on greens and browns, so it is hard to say which will bring the big paycheck. If I had to guess, though, I would say someone will come in with a nice limit of smallies from Lake Tom.
Now that I have made my guess, someone will find a few bucketmouth greens on Kawaguesaga and run away with it, but I still predict a small jaw from Lake Tom will take big fish. We will see if I am right. Prognosticating a tournament is like fishing one - you never really know until the last bag is weighed.
Weigh-ins both Saturday and Sunday will take place at the Beacons of Minocqua. The public is welcome to come and watch the weigh in. An awards ceremony will take place after weigh-in on Sunday.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.