One of the winners of this past Sunday’s tournament on the Illinois River is predicting tougher conditions and muddier water for this weekend’s season-opening event for the Masters Walleye Circuit at Spring Valley.
“Less than ideal,” Tom Giachetto Jr. of Ladd said Tuesday when asked about the conditions currently on the Illinois River.
“The water’s terribly cold; with the wind today it’s going to muddy it up again. Ideally you’d like to see warmer water temperatures for them (sauger) to start spawning,” said Giachetto, who, along with his father, Tom Sr., brought in a six-fish limit weighing 11.26 pounds to win the Illinois Walleye Trail event that drew 31 two-angler teams Sunday to Barto Landing in Spring Valley.
“Despite the changing river conditions and the cool air and water temps the IWT anglers were able to put together some very respectable limits. A total of 113 fish crossed the scale yesterday with 99 of them being males and only 14 females. Twelve teams weighed a six-fish limit and only five teams were unable to bring a fish to the scales,” Illinois Walleye Trail operator Adam Sandor wrote earlier this week. “Most of the teams had success either pulling live bait or cranks on three way rigs upstream really slow. Productive depths ranged from 14-16 feet of water and worked the baits up and down the break lines to connect with the fish.”
The Giachettos — defending 2011-12 team points champs for the Illinois Walleye Trail — earned $1,800 for first place and an additional $500 for being the highest finishing Lund Boats team in the money. They always fish the season opener for the MWC at Spring Valley, but don’t normally go to the other MWC events throughout the upper Midwest and Great Lakes states.
“The father and son duo pulled live bait on three way rigs, focusing on one area all day to find the right fish,” Sandor wrote in a press release earlier this week.
Sandor said the river was dropping and clearing over the weekend, with many anglers reporting up to 10 inches of visibility — “which is great and will continue to improve as the week goes on.”
But that was his prediction based on last weekend. Tom Giachetto Jr. said last Saturday and Sunday were the first days they were catching many fish, and he knows the river was just getting muddier Tuesday, as high winds were causing river to lap up against muddy banks, further clouding the water. The wind also was roiling the water as it was creating whitecaps in flooded corn and bean fields.
“If you take a ride over and look at the river, it’s not cleared up. When you get a 35-mile-an-hour wind, it’s going to muddy it up,” Giachetto said Tuesday. “Today would have been miserable. Today’s our day off, and we didn’t go (fishing).”
“They’re not going to be really biting, if you were further along in the season, it would be easy to catch them,” Giachetto added.
He said the conditions weren’t the greatest but weren’t bad this past weekend. He figured that 15-20 years ago, under similar conditions, the 11-pound limit caught by him and his dad likely wouldn’t have finished in the money. In the 1990s, 3- to 4-pound sauger were somewhat common in the Spring Valley area.
“You’ve got to gauge the river with what’s in the river,” he said. He noted that pre-fishing early this week would almost be futile, considering conditions are going to change and the river is likely to drop by a foot or more by the weekend.
The biggest fish caught this past weekend in the tournament were a 4.19-pound walleye caught near Marseilles by the team of John Dalzot and Joe Perez, and and a 3.65-pound walleye caught nearer to Barto Landing. The sauger typically have been in the 1- to 2-pound range in recent years.
MWC to host fishing clinic, give rods and reels to youth after Saturday weigh-in
OK, fishing’s not the biggest spectator sport, but the Masters Walleye Circuit makes it worthwhile for anglers, as well as families and youngsters, to attend the weigh-ins.
The Cabela’s MWC, National Professional Anglers Association, Pure Fishing and Zippo Outdoor Brands will present a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after Saturday’s weigh-in at the MWC season-opening walleye tournament at Barto Landing in Spring Valley. The first 50 youths will receive rods and reel combos courtesy of NPAA.
The weigh-ins begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Barto Landing in Spring Valley.
Parking is not available for spectators at the landing. Spectators can park at Hall High School and take a shuttle to Barto Landing. Spring Valley Walleye Club and volunteers operate the shuttles noon-5 p.m. each day, said club director Mike Hurless.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources personnel will be there to take fish to the La Salle Lake hatchery where they can strip them of eggs and milt before returning them to the river, Hurless added.
Food and beverages are available.
MWC press notes:
“More than 260 anglers from across the Midwest will compete for more than $67,000 in cash and prizes Saturday and Sunday when the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit kicks off its 29th season on the fish-rich waters of the Illinois River at Spring Valley,” according to MWC publicity.
Regardless of conditions — snow flurries have been in some forecasts for Sunday — teams will give it their all, considering the winners get nearly $18,000 in cash and prizes.
Plus, anglers have the option of participating in the MWC Big Fish Pot, which could add up to $6,600 to the tally. As an added incentive, the first-place team wins a $1,000 Cabela’s National Team Championship Prize Package including paid NTC entry, travel stipend, team jerseys and plaques.
“With cool water temperatures and the river falling below flood stage, the fishing should be fantastic,” circuit veteran Kevin Dahl, of Muskego, Wis., told MWC earlier this month.
According to MWC, 2013 marks Dahl’s 15th Spring Valley MWC tournament. In 2010, he and teammate Steve Stack won the event with 25.55 pounds “on the wings of a stellar jigging performance, and Dahl expects a solid jig bite to prevail this season as well. Without giving away his game plan, he admits his favorite combo is a 3/8-ounce leadhead sweetened with a Berkley Ripple Shad,” MWC wrote.
“‘Conditions are shaping up for one of the best bites in recent years,’ added Tournament Director Dan Palmer, who predicted that limit catches will be the rule, not the exception. ‘If the water clears up enough, crankbaits could be a factor, too,’ he noted, with a tip of the cap toward Tom Brunz and Mark Meravy’s 24.05-pound trolling victory in 2011.”
This is the first of 10 Cabela’s MWC qualifying tournaments in 2013. The remaining schedule includes the Detroit River at Trenton, Mich., April 12-14; Lake Pueblo at Pueblo, Colo., May 17-19; Lake Erie at Huron, Ohio, May 17-19; Green Bay of Lake Michigan at Oconto, Wis., May 31-June 2; Lake Oahe at Spring Creek, S.D., June 7-9; Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wis., June 28-30; Devils Lake, N.D., Aug. 22-23; the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Aug. 22-23; and Cass Lake, Minn., Sept. 13-15.