LAKE CITY — Walleye angling brothers Christopher and Joseph Kujawa of rural Lake City did it again.
Last year, they won the Masters Walleye Circuit national tournament on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, with 26 pounds of fish. They took home trophies as well as $20,000 in cash and $6,000 in prizes.
Last weekend, they again took the top place, this time in the Anglers Insight Marketing tournament on their home waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin, a large natural lake of the river.
They weighed in at more than 65 pounds of walleye, winning $15,000, plus another $1,550 side pot and automatic invitation to the 2021 AIM National Championship Shootout.
They pre-fished four or five days before last weekend’s tournament and decided to concentrate on Pool 4 that is from Red Wing to Alma, Wis., with Pepin in the middle of it. The river was high and muddy, then strong winds further churned the water.
The conditions “pretty much flipped the system upside down, and the fish just weren’t happy or where they were supposed to be. It was never consistent and repeatable. One day you could put together 30 or 35 pounds and the next it was single digits,” Joseph said.
On the last day, they trolled #5 Berkley Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad Raps along Pepin’s Wisconsin shore, going smaller because a recent mayfly hatch made fish look for smaller food, finding good fish.
On the first day of the tournament, things were slow until they reeled in a 28 3/4- and 27 1/2-pound walleyes at the same time. That gave them 20 pounds. Eventually, they caught more and led after day one with 40.3 pounds.
On the second day, they fished the same area with jumbo leeches, then went further up the river and came in with more than 20 pounds of fish.
“It’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve ever won, since it was our home water,” Chris said. “The system is a river, then a lake, then another river. We usually spend most of our time on the lake and the fact that we won it in the river meant a lot because we’d been trying to figure that out.”
Coming in at second place and taking home $7,000 with 61.25 pounds were Kyle Brantner and Nathan Patraw, both from Pepin, Wis. They also did their fishing on the river.
In third place with 55.22 pounds and winning $5,500 were Jarrad Fluekiger, of Alma, Wis., and Joe Newcomb of Pepin, Wis. Finishing fourth with 45.89 pounds and $5,000 richer, plus $620 in side-pot money, were Josh Jones of Austin, and Tony Flatten of Albert Lea.