Korey Sprengel Wins Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Event on Lake Winnebago
Season-opener pays out more than $277,000
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (May 16, 2018) – Korey Sprengel, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, weighed a combined total of 35.33 pounds to win the season-opening event of the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour on Lake Winnebago, May 11. The angler won a fully rigged Ranger 620FS with a 150-horsepower outboard, $15,000 in Ranger Cup bonus money and $2,635 in Anglers Advantage cash for a total of $82,635 in winnings.
Korey Sprengel has been tearing up the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour ever since its inception in 2013. In those five years alone, his accolades include four wins, starting at the inaugural NWT event on the Mississippi River. While he’s proven to be successful on every type of fishery, Lake Winnebago has been especially good to him. In 2014, he won the NWT Championship on Wisconsin’s largest inland lake, and last weekend he clinched yet another pro-am win in impressive fashion.
The 2018 season opener was originally scheduled for the Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minn., but historic April snow lead to flood conditions and ultimately a change in venue. Sprengel was pleased with the switch, but at the time, felt largely unprepared to tackle his dynamic home water.
“I had to fish this one on the fly,” explained the Ranger-Mercury pro. “I told my co-angler on day one that I didn’t exactly have a game plan, but that we’d eventually come across some fish.”
In the back of Sprengel’s mind, he knew the Winnebago walleyes were in postspawn migration mode. His plan was to survey where the field was setting up and then adjust accordingly by hitting the high-percentage areas that weren’t receiving much pressure.
“With migrating fish, if you run enough spots, you’re eventually going to run into them,” Sprengel said.
Instead of focusing on the lake, Sprengel spent his time in the Upper Lakes and in the Fox River.
“I pre-fished this event for six days, and I never fished the main lake,” said Sprengel. “I wasn’t going to get suckered into fishing the main lake and catching skinny walleyes. A lot of people were catching limits of 18- to 20-inch fish there, but they would only weigh 13 or 14 pounds. The fish in the Upper Lakes were healthy. This was a tournament where understanding the build of your fish really mattered. Those same fish in the Upper Lakes weighed 16 or 17 pounds.”
Sprengel spent the majority of his time in Butte Des Morts, especially on day two. The fish there were further along in the migration. Sprengel described Butte Des Morts as a shallow lake with an abundance of food. Being further away from the spawn meant the walleyes were on the chew.
“I targeted shallow, active fish in 3 feet or less,” said Sprengel. “I was fishing weeds (curly-leaf pondweed), cane beds and rock piles. With the amount of flow we had from the snow and rain, that really set the fish up in certain areas. My practice wasn’t a lot of fishing; it was a lot of looking at new weed beds and new rock piles.”
On day one, Sprengel hit around 20 spots, and on day two, he trimmed down to 15 in the brutally wet, cold, and windy conditions. Despite the challenging weather, his weight increased from 17.35 pounds to 17.98 pounds.
In Butte Des Morts, Sprengel mainly threw a Berkley Cutter Shallow 90 in chameleon pearl. When he fished the Fox River, he primarily used a Berkley Digger 8.5 (also in chameleon pearl).
“Basically, I would get my limit casting, and then I would troll crankbaits on leadcore” said Sprengel. “Today, I caught my 26-incher on leadcore.”
Sprengel said the key to his latest victory was running numerous spots.
“On Winnebago, you know real quick if it’s going to happen,” said Sprengel. “I would spend 10 minutes on each spot and then move if they weren’t there. I threw back a lot of 18- and 19-inchers. I threw back skinny 20s, just to get a fat 19-incher.”
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, pro Russell Gahagan sat in third place after catching a 16.34-pound limit Thursday. On day two, he demonstrated remarkable consistency and caught another 16.02 to finish second with 32.36 pounds. Gahagan earned $18,506.
“I’m very pleased with the finish,” said Gahagan. “I’m mainly a salmon fisherman. To be able to compete with the best walleye fishermen in the world, I’m pleased.”
Cabela’s pro Kevin McQuoid surged up the leaderboard after catching a 16.29-pound day-two stringer. On day one, the Isle, Minnesota, fisherman caught 15.17. His total weight for the tournament was 31.46 pounds. With boat, motor and Anglers Advantage bonuses, he cleared $18,238.
McQuoid employed a similar strategy to Sprengel in that he fished shallow in Butte Des Morts.
“I was casting crankbaits, trolling crankbaits and trolling spinners,” McQuiod said.
McQuoid’s crankbait of choice was also the Berkley Cutter Shallow 90, which he fished over rock piles in 3 feet. When he trolled spinners, he covered shallow flats with a size 3 or 4 blade and night crawlers.
The next stop for the NWT is set for June 14-15 on Saginaw Bay at Bay City, Michigan.
For more details, anglers are encouraged to call 612-424-0708 or check out the website at www.nationalwalleyetour.com. From here, site visitors can learn more about the NWT, view the TV schedule and learn more about what’s in store for 2017.
National Walleye Tour events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Mercury, Minn Kota, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Lowrance, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Powertex Group.
2018 NWT Scheduled Events:
June 14-15 – Saginaw Bay (Bay City, Mich.)
July 26-27 – Devils Lake (Devils Lake, N.D.)
Championship – September 5-7 – Lake of the Woods (Baudette, Minn.)