Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


AIM Again Breaks New Ground With NoDak Tourney

On Lake Audubon, The Only One There This Season


The AIM Weekend Walleye Series is used to breaking tradition, especially with its ground-breaking format, and it’s doing it again Sunday during the Warrior Boats/Mild2Wild Open on North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea neighbor, Lake Audubon, at Totten Trail.

“This is an interesting lake our teams will be targeting Sunday,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “According to the info we’ve seen, this is the only national tournament on the lake this year. Audubon is separated from Sakakawea by U.S. 83, but is fed by Sak. Part of it is a national wildlife refuge, and all of it is covered by its numerous small islands, holes that quickly drop to 50 feet, sunken islands that rise 40 feet, and flats made for trolling. It’s bound to make this North Dakota Qualifier challenging to say the least.”

“And, we’ll answer that obvious question for you. Totten Trail was an 1800s route across the old Dakota Territory to Montana,” Fox added. School’s out, now, on to the fishing.

One angler looking forward to fishing there is Pearl Gillespie of Minot, who will be on the water Sunday in their 350 Verado-powered ride with husband Scott. They fished their first AIM tournament in May on Lake Sak in New Town. She’s often ice-fished Audubon, and fishes another national walleye tour, but has never been on Audubon in soft water season. She likes the challenge, and AIM’s Catch-Record-Release™ format.

“There is so much structure and it isn’t very big, acreage-wise, but there’s a lot of different kinds of water,” she said. “You’ve got a big basin, islands, deep holes, shorelines. A lot of different things can happen there,” Gillespie said.

“The issue with Audubon is that part of it is a wildlife refuge and not fishable during the summer season so we’ll have to see if where we like to fish in winter is within the boundaries. You can catch quite a lot of walleye here but the bigger ones are harder to find. So if you can get 16 to 18 pounds, you’ll be in pretty decent shape,” she added.

The lake also will be adding one more challenge for anglers, she said. “In any other year, I would have told you to fish shallow, but the fish don’t seem to be following their traditional paths, so we’ll be looking deeper,” at least during pre-fishing. “We’re still seeing 40 degrees at night. This is not a typical summer pattern and there are some who are fishing way deeper than usual this time of year,” she added.

Still, they’re hoping that what they know about fishing Sakakawea on the other side of the highway will transfer to the Audubon side as well.

“I think you’ll see a lot of trolling and pitching shallow around the islands. Audubon’s recently been touted as a new muskie lake so you might see people using some crazy big baits. That would probably weed out the 16-inchers. I wouldn’t rule out anything yet.”

“I’m always partial to tolling. If I can figure out how to troll here that’s how we’ll start, but I really suspect this will be a pitching bite. There are so many little islands and structure, and if there are fish on those this will have to be a little more of a finesse presentation,” Gillespie predicted.

Since she and Scott live only 45 minutes away, they’ll be on the water pre-fishing starting Friday morning. “My issue is vacation time. The nice thing about AIM events is that it’s local. You don’t have to make massive travel arrangements. AIM provides that avenue so we can fish together. We’re going to go out and have a good time. This is such a fun format, anyone thinking about getting into the pro fishing world should give the AIM circuit a go. It relieves a lot of stress about what you keep and what you don’t. You just turn the fish back. It’s awesome,” Gillespie said.

Another Minot local, who’s been on the water since Wednesday is Scot Swain. You’ll be seeing him and his partner in their Mercury 200-powered tiller-style boat Sunday. He’s on Audubon several times a year, and says the lake is a phenomenal walleye fishery. This is his second season of fishing AIM North Dakota tournaments.

“I like the fishery but it’s going to take some big fish to win it. It’s tough getting the big ones over 21 inches right now, and Lake Audubon is divided by buoy lines, so we only get to fish maybe 1/3 of the lake,” Swain said. Come Sunday, expect to see teams competing for the best spots with locals, and he thinks he’s already got a line on the presentation that will win it. Or, two lines, actually.

He’s either about to spill the beans below on where and how this will be won, or he’s craftily steering the competition to where he won’t be. We’ll see come Sunday.

“I think it’s going to be won with Lindy rigs, slow moving. But I’m personally not going to do that. I’m going to pull crankbaits along the big rocks on the U.S. 83 embankment, but a lot will be fishing those deep humps.

“Some also might pitch jigs near shore. The vegetation’s starting to get green and they actually might start letting water from Sakakawea into Audubon at the intake. That brings in fresh, cool water and lots of fish like to go right there. They do the ‘dump and flush’ in spring, and dump water back into Sakakawea in fall,” Swain said.

We’ll see who’s predictions hold true—or if they are true—Sunday. Things ramp up starting 5 p.m. Saturday with registration and team rules meeting at the Totten Trail Bar & Grill. Boat inspections begin at 5:30 a.m. Sunday at the East Totten Trail Boat Ramp. The green flag drops for teams starting at 7 a.m. Boats must be back to check in at 3 p.m. Awards will begin at 5 p.m. at the Totten Trail Bar & Grill.

Follow your favorites on Sunday via Garmin Fish & Hunt, and to see what team wins each tournament weekend, go to 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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