Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2023
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
40 Pounds In 20 Minutes: Nearly 54 lbs Takes Third Wisconsin AIM Qualifier At Oconto After A Bumpy Run
It didn’t take long once they got on’em, as the season’s third Wisconsin Division AIM Weekend Walleye Series Navionics Open qualifier was won going away Sunday after an hour-plus run through three and four-footers by Brett Walser and Ryan Dempsey, who used crank baits to card 53.85 pounds Sunday, May 14.
“We told you going in that the weather may be a factor, and it was, but these two gave their young backs a workout, made that run, found the fish and took home $9,550,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. That computes to $7,500 from AWWS, and $2,050 in side-pot cash.
In fact, said Walser, other teams who were also making that trip above Marinette turned around, but Walser, from Fond du Lac, and Dempsey, from Green Bay, stuck with the program to find the fish a friend had tracked down a few weeks prior. Yup, that long. But, it almost didn’t come to pass, Walser said. They burned 46 gallons of gas in his brand new, Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered and Garmin Livescope-equipped boat to do it without a single minute of pre-fishing.
“We didn’t pre-fish at all. We just went where we knew we could catch fish,” Walser explained. “About 2-1/2 weeks ago a buddy took me up there north of Marinette to show me the spot. We had the same wind direction for the tournament, so we said hey, let’s go. We’re both young guys so we just put our heads down.” It took an hour and 40 to get to their spot, running 25 to 30 mph around and through the waves up to four feet.
He said they were just about to give up on trolling when one of their boards with a No. 11 Flicker Minnow, purple-ish, went back in about 20 feet of water. Then the fun began.
“We went back through again and got three fish on at once. We went from nothing to 40 pounds in 20 minutes. Our smallest was over 28 inches. We had three 30s, and a 29 and a 28, all on No. 11 and 9 Flicker Minnows, out of the box,” he said. “We used Garmin mapping, Livescope and side imaging, all of it. It tells you what depth they were at and gives you a view of what’s coming. There were a few other tournament boats there, but they didn’t do as well.
“We came in nice and slow and early. We were pretty confident, but it’s Green Bay. A couple weeks ago there was a tournament, and 53 pounds didn’t even make in the money,” he said.
The second-place team of Jeremy Hurst and Jim Erdman, both of Oshkosh, stuck a little closer to Oconto in their Mercury 400 Verado, Garmin-running boat, taking $3,000, plus $1,230 n side-pot fun for 42.05 pounds of waldos. You’ll also be seeing their names at the upcoming AIM National Championship Shootout June 2-3 on the Rock River at Fort Atkinson, where Hurst fishes in fall.
“We made about 10 miles to the Peshtigo River and found a little warm water outside of it. We were pulling Slow Death (crawler harnesses) right in that warm water we found. Pre-fishing the day before, we found a 25-3/4 and a 24 so had no clue there were that decent of fish,” Hurst said.
“We started out with four small ones, and we figured we didn’t have any place else to go. All of a sudden, there was a 27-1/4, a 28-1/4, another 27-14, and then a 29-1/4-incher over a couple of hours. That was a pretty big surprise. Jim and I wouldn’t have gone there if it hadn’t been for our partners, and we were catching them in one to three feet of water,” he said. Yup, that shallow, Fan Nation. It’s a great early season trick. Many anglers drive right over fish in the shallows. At one point they even got moored up on some sunken pilings that they reversed off.
Rounding out the top five were Greg and Max Reckelberg of Luxemburg, earning $2,500 for 40.01 pounds of walleye. Finishing fourth with $1,400 and $820 in side pot cash were Rick and Matt Wachowiak of Muskego, with 38.11 pounds. Fifth place and $1,200 went to Chris Bartsch of Little Suamico and Mario Nanna of De Pere for 37.30 pounds.
Now, Fan Nation, we’re on to Minnesota and that fish factory called Leech, where a full field will be floating at Horseshoe Bay Resort. We’ll have a preview of that event in a day or two, and North Dakota, you are opening your season with a weather forced double header on Lake Audubon. We will have previews for that as well. Then it’s on to the Warrior Boats National Championship Shoot out and see who goes away from Fort Atkinson with that $100,000 Warrior boat, Yamaha motor, Garmin Bowmount and electronics and Rosemore Outdoor Gear-rigged rig.
Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook site Sunday for on-water updates, and later for previews of those upcoming events to the west. The fun is just beginning. Learn how you can register for the next events at aimfishing.com.
You know you want to. You know you can.
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 inc.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, Outdoor Authority MN, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI.