Brothers Chris and Joe Kujawa took home the ‘dubyah’ at AIM’s first-ever “Quest For The Best” on the Mississippi River — weighing 65.37 lbs over the 2 days — for a $16,550 payday + some killer hardware. Congrats fellas!
One of the hardest things about dialing fish in on any river system is how the conditions are constantly changing — sometimes those changes are subtle, other times they’re a nightmare. Full scoop in AIM’s post here, few excerpts below:
> Joe: “When we got back out…the water was just this red, dirty, brown soup, the color of Willy Wonka’s chocolate….”
> Work was being done by the Army Corps raising and then lowering the river water, and winds that churned up the water had “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 [prefishing] you could put together 30 or 35 lbs and the next it was single digits….”
> The last day of practice…. They put together a program trolling #5 Berkley Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad Raps along Lake Pepin’s WI shoreline. They downsized because of a recent mayfly hatch — to more closely match what the fish were dining on — catching fish up to 29″. The plan was to head to the lake in the morning and return to the WI river channel to finish the day. However…
> “Our first couple of spots [on tourney day] didn’t produce…finally around 10am we decided to head up to the river to collect a limit of whatever it was willing to offer.” What they found were fish flushing down the river. …right spot at the time, pulling now jumbo leeches at 1.1-1.2 mph into the current, faster than anyone else.
> “It’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve ever won, since it was our home water. 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. And the level of competition…local heavy hitters…big-name national tour guys, and we were able to do it, it’s special.”
No doubt they earned that one!
Local duo Kyle Brantner and Nathan Patraw snagged 2nd place with 61.25 lbs — had to pull it off out of a borrowed boat after Kyle whacked a stump with his. Ouch! #RiverLife
Caught all their fish on willow cats — either fished weightless or with up to a 1/4-oz jig — in knee-deep water [!!!] or less. “So shallow you could set the hook and see the fish all the way in….” They also figured that (like the winners) they were finding fish filtering back out to the lake. Nicely done!