Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


A Lot of Water, In Length, Width, Depth, Challenges Teams In Sunday’s Final AIM Dakota Qualifier On Lake Oahe


It’s a lot of water. About 141 miles as the crow flies, between the boundaries of the South Dakota state line and Garrison Dam. Made even more by near-flood-stage conditions in some areas and water depths some report from five to 12 feet above normal.

That’s just one of the challenges facing the teams who will put the throttle down at Hazelton Recreation Area on the lake they call the Missouri River here in the final AIM Weekend Walleye Series North Dakota Division’s Warrior Boats/Mild 2 Wild Motorsports Open qualifier.

“The other main challenge is of course finding those five right fish that will take first, and move that team possibly into contention for Team Of The Year here,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “There are about a gazillion walleye in this stretch of river, and it’s going to be fun watching to see who’s going to figure out this lake-y river or river-y lake.”

Among those gunning for all the marbles is Jake Caughey of West Fargo, ND. Originally from Minnesota, he’s fishing AIM events in both Minnesota and North Dakota in his Mercury 250 ProXS four-stroke tiller 2090 Warrior.

And like a lot of entrants, he’s not going to touch water until Saturday because of work schedules. That means he’s either staring at a distinct advantage, or is going to have a heckuva time locating his go-to spots in the short run-up to Sunday. He’s betting on the former. In stock market terms, he’s a contrarian, and often, it’s the winning way to go.

“I’ve fished before down at Cannonball (a stretch south of the launch at Hazelton) but I’ve not ever fished between there and Hazelton, so Saturday will be the day,” Caughey said.

“The river’s really high, so I don’t know if the current will be changing much, or if there will be a bunch of floating debris,” Caughey said. “The fish might be scattered, and from the sounds of it that’s kinda what happens.”

In this stretch of the Missouri, many tournaments have been won trolling over the tops of submerged trees either along the shore or at drowned creek mouths, and Caughey said that’s a strong possibility that Sunday will see some of the field using that technique.

“If you’re ripping around with spinners and bottom bouncers over trees you might have a better chance because you’re covering more water. To be honest, I watch a lot of events and I’ve heard of guys trolling over tops of trees, and I went to a seminar Tommy Skarlis (a long-time AIM supporter and pro) put on talking about using a jig and a crawler in the trees to target specific fish. I also don’t know why a slip bobber system wouldn’t work, but I don’t know if the fish will be in the trees yet,” he said.

“But it will be a fun day of searching Saturday. That’s one of my favorite parts about fishing AIM on new bodies of water. I’ve probably fished more AIM tournaments in the last three years than most so I’m not afraid to just show up, because I’m going to learn a ton about that fishery and what other people are doing. It makes you a better angler and you learn to adjust faster,” he continued. “I’m not afraid to zero. You can’t be afraid of that because if you’re going to win someday you’re first going to get a lot of zeros.”

Saturday, you’ll see Caughey launch with up to 30 rods in his Warrior, ready to try scores of presentation to see which make fish twitch.

“I’ve heard there are a lot of fish in the system but not a ton of the right size.” he added. So if a guy with confidence enough to fail can find those five right ones, he can win. Fishing AIM isn’t about putting five on the card. It’s about putting five good ones.” Well said.

Kade Lynch, of Bismarck, also will be pre-fishing the area, but he is more familiar with the area, and feels he has a plan for the river’s high water.

“We have a good plan. I know some spots that hold big fish and were pretty excited to get out and try them. There’s going to be a lot of 15- to 20-inch fish caught, but whoever can find the 21 and above fish will definitely set themselves apart. I like finding a pod of fish. You’ve just got to be able to read your graph and it helps a lot when you can tell the size of the fish on your graph, and pound’em to make’em bite.

“There’s a lot of flooding but we don’t use crank baits so we’re going to use live bait and plastics with finesse fishing. It’s gotten us this far,” said Lynch, who’s currently sitting in third for North Dakota Team Of The Year honors. That high water will be definitely something that will come into play.

“They were stopping water to back up into Oahe. I’ve heard of reports of it being five to even 12 feet deeper than normal,” he said. There will be fish shallow, but the majority are deeper, he added confidently.

Lynch feels he’s dialed in here, and also for the upcoming championship on Devils Lake. He thinks his plan will prevail, and so does the contrarian Caughey. Don’t count either philosophy out.

The fun begins Saturday evening with registration and rules meeting at 5 p.m. at the Elks Lodge No. 1199, 900 S. Washington St., in Bismarck. Teams, assemble at the Hazelton Recreation Area, ND 1804, in Hazelton, for boat inspection starting at 5:30 a.m. Teams get the “go” starting at 7 a.m., and must return starting at 3 p.m. The awards ceremony takes place at the recreation area starting at 5 p.m.

Follow it all via Garmin Fish & Hunt on our Facebook page. Visit our website for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register for all AIM events.

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


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, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marinette WI, Pro Chattrr, Missouri Secrets Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Anglers Avenue pro shop, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods.

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