Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2018
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
40-Plus Pounds Of Fox River Walleye Brings Becker, Rice First Win Of AWWS Season At Green Bay Sunday
Fish for walleye in April and the rewards are often big. As in big, bruiser spawners. And Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Nitro Boats Open kickoff at Green Bay was no exception, with nearly 200 pounds of ‘eyes netted by the top five on the Fox River alone, including 40.74 pounds carded by the winners, Jake Becker and Chris Rice, that also earned them big rewards: $8,000 and top spot in the division standings to start the 2018 season.
Becker, from Genoa City, and Rice, from Burlington, Wisconsin, topped a full field representing six states, and they scored a couple of firsts. It was their first tournament win, in Becker’s Warrior V208 powered by a four-stroke Yamaha 300, that he picked up in December. That all-AIM sponsor combo also earned them the first $1,000 Warrior Cash bonus of the season for a team winning an AIM tourney with a Warrior. The team took second in the 2017 Wisconsin championship. And, the win was the result of the biggest walleye he’s ever caught. And, the top two teams both ran Warrior boats.
They did it this time fishing ¼-ounce Kalin’s Rattlin’ Google Eye Jigs and Rapala Rippin’ Raps, and they didn’t have it in the bag until the last 45 minutes of the event, Becker said. But, the old saw of don’t give up, if you’re confident it’s right, stay with your plan, proved true again.
“Pre-fishing, we were casting Rippin’ Raps and it was on fire. We probably caught 40 or 50 fish a day on custom-painted Rippin’ Raps from Viper Tackle just on those, but come tournament day, it wasn’t the case,” Becker said. The cold and calm waters changed their minds and the fish’s, and Rice switched first to jigs while Becker stuck with Raps.
They began near the dam at the upstream limit in De Pere, where they’d done well pre-fishing. “Chris put out his first cast, and he hadn’t even jigged it, when he had his first on, a 27-3/4 incher,” he said. They had their five fish in the first 15 minutes, but, he said, other than that first biggie, they were all smallish.
They then fell back to their alternate spot upstream of the Highway 172 bridge, but only caught one. Back to the dam to see if the fish they knew were there had turned on. Only the small ones had. Back to Spot 2 they went, and….bang, hookup. Multiples, in fact.
“Within the last 45 minutes of the tournament, the big fish started to bite. Chris caught a 27, and then I caught that 30-3/4-incher, and he caught a 25-incher with like 20 minutes to go,” Becker recalled. That 30-plus was featured at AIM’s Facebook page, and it clinched first place. It came on a purple blade bait. And it stands a great chance of winning AIM’s Big Fish Thursday Navionics event. “I still get chills seeing that picture,” he added.
They still weren’t sure they’d won, he said. “I knew it usually takes around 40 to 42 pounds to win, but when we took second in the championship last year we missed first by 7/10ths of a pound, and I had that same gut feeling that something was going to haunt us, and we’d get second again. But after talking to others on shore, I knew we had a pretty good shot.”
You’ll see Becker again in a few weeks, and at all the other Wisconsin Division events, he said for what they and more teams are realizing: AIM is the way to go.
“Its simply the best format in tournament fishing, hands down. Our win wouldn’t even have been possible if it wasn’t for Catch-Record-Release™. Normally on the Fox, we would have been only able to register one fish we caught if we had to keep them,” he concluded.
Notching second place was the team of Greg Golliher and Randy Harwood, both from Oshkosh, who pointed their Mercury Verado-powered Warrior tiller towards one spot off Voyageur Park, near the upstream limit at De Pere. It was the only spot they’d pre-fished, and it proved the right decision to take home $2,400 for 39.59 pounds, about 1-1/4 pounds behind the winners.
“We only pre-fished Saturday, the only day we were able, and the weather Saturday was bad,” Golliher said. On Sunday, it was so cold–11 degrees at launch–they brought a heater onboard.
“We went to an area we fished last year, caught some and moved around a bit, then found a little pod of fish, and that’s where we stayed. Our plan was to go out Sunday, start there, and end there.”
Using homemade “parrot color” blue, orange and chartreuse ¼-ounce jigs tipped with fathead minnows they brought from Oshkosh, they bulked up their scorecard with fish from 26-1/4 to 27-1/2 inches.
“Everyone around us was using blade baits and catching smaller fish. I almost pulled out another rod to start whipping a blade, and as soon as I did, Randy pulled in that 27-1/2-incher, and I said, ‘that’s it, I’m not switching up after all,’” Golliher joked. “We just didn’t have the one kicker fish the winners had. The 30 boats around us were catching probably more than what we were, but the ones we caught were bigger.”
Finishing the Top five were A.J. Schmidt, of Fremont, Wisconsin, and Mike Kasper, Neenah, Wisconsin, who boated 38.21 pounds, good for third place and $1,800. In fourth were Louie Apitz, Menasha, Wisconsin, and Buck Gehm, Crivitz, Wisconsin, with 37.54 pounds, winning them $1,500. Fifth place went to Matt Johannes, Pine River, Wisconsin, and Jason Miller, Winneconne, Wisconsin, with 36.71 pounds, earning them $1,300.
Next up is an April 29 double-header. Wisconsin Division teams move a few miles south, into the walleye waters of the Wolf River Chain of Lakes system near Winneconne where the ‘eyes are so numerous locals don’t fuss with boats. They use fully-equipped river raft houses.
The North Dakota division begins its road to the championship the same day on the Missouri River at Bismarck, which, depending on the weather between now and then, could be in flood stage, or as calm as a mid-spring prairie morning. Stay up on all the information at AIM’s Facebook site.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™) is a unique tournament organization created and owned by many of the most accomplished and recognizable professional walleye anglers, along with others who share the mission of advancing competitive walleye fishing and making it sustainable into the future. AIM is committed to marketing excellence on behalf of its tournament competitors, the tournament host communities, and the brands that partner with it. AIM is also committed to maintaining healthy fisheries across the nation by the development of the exclusive AIM Catch-Record-Release™ format which is integral to its dynamic events and unparalleled consumer engagement. For more information about AIM™, AIM Pro Walleye Series™, AIM Weekend Walleye Series, AIM sponsors and AIM anglers, visit www.aimfishing.com.
AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats, LLC.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Gemini Sport Marketing, Treeland Resort, Anglers Avenue, Moonshine Lures, Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods