Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 19, 2023
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
All On The Line: Rivers Division Championship Determines
2024 National Championship Shootout Teams Oct. 21-22
Who’s going to do it? The teams to represent the newest AIM Weekend Walleye Series Division in the 2024 Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout will be determined on a Mississippi River shrouded in fall color as the AIM Rivers Division Championship, the final event of AIM’s 2023 season, takes to the water Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22.
“When most anglers are storing their soft water gear and are already looking forward to safe ice, our Rivers Division teams have their eyes on the Mississippi pools surrounding Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to see who will be going to the Shootout, and also to see who will come out on top in a close race for Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team Of The Year that even the leader says is still anybody’s to win,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “You can bet that the teams competing Friday and Saturday will be leaving it all on the water.
“Because of our newest division, AIM’s season is ending nearly in November, but that’s the way these River Rats like it. The Mississippi is a bit higher, and river walleye bite is best early and late in the season when fish are feeding before freeze-up in a month or so, so hang on, chances are we’ll see winning weights in the 50s,” Fox added.
“And heads up to all teams and you out there, Fan Nation. We will be launching out of the Winneshiek Bar and Grill in PDC at 7 a.m. daily, and the awards will take place at the Crooked Oar Bar and Marina in Prairie du Chien about 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.”
Leading the run for Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team Of The Year going into Saturday are Robert Lampman of De Soto, Wisconsin, and Tom “Tuna” Beck of Genoa, WI. Tuesday, they were in the PDC pool on the river and were fighting floating weeds, making pre-fishing “terrible” so far.
“One day you can catch them and the next day you won’t,” added Lampman. And for the most part, they’re concentrating on wing dams to produce. “You can do wing dams year-round. I’d say the river level is low. It actually came up about a foot but it’s going back down again,” he added. What’s working?
“It’s a variety. We’re going to see what’s going to work best. We’ve tried cranks, they were working from time to time. We’re also running jigs. We’ve tried willow cats but they don’t seem to be working right now. It seems like when the water temperature gets to a certain point, the cats don’t seem to work as well,” Lampman said. Current water is about 53 degrees, compared with 80 at AIM’s last divisional at Dubuque about 20 days prior.
“I think the fish are still in shock” from that change, he said. “We’ve got three more days to pre-fish and we’re going to check all the pools out (anglers can fish Pools 9,10 and 11). I live on the Genoa Pool, Pool 9, and I’ve already done a few days of homework on that, but since the weeds have started you’re working against them to try and get the bait to the fish.
“Here the river is channeled, and I’d have to say for the most part the current was slow. Before, a slight breeze would blow you back upriver, but it came up 9/10ths of a foot and now it’s going to start back down again.”
All three teams interviewed days prior to Day One said they’d need at least 25 pounds a day to win.
“I’d have to say one day you’ve got’em and the next you don’t. Right now, we’re shooting for sixth or seventh place to stay in the lead in Team Of The Year. We’ve got everybody by 52 points. Hypothetically if the team closest to us places first, and that point we’d need a few ounces better than half their weight to stay in the lead,” Lampman said.
Also on the water on Tuesday was Allan Lydic of Cassville WI, who’ll be fishing with Daniel Aurit of Dodgeville, WI, in a Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat. They’re also finding the Prairie du Chien pool a challenge.
“I’m finding some fish, but a lot are in the smaller range. We’ve been struggling to find anything of any size,” Lydic said. And he grew up fishing this pool and the one above near Genoa. He’s got the rest of the week off work to find those winning spots, but this year has been tough.
“The bite for me has been hit or miss this whole year. It’s been a struggle, but we did make it to the championship,” he said. “My regular partner had to take a year off and a good buddy stepped up and filled in. So sometimes I went left when I should have gone right.” He’s guessing right now to stay either north or south of the launch, or maybe both. Or all three. Or one. In other words, we’ll see.
“I live near Cassville, but if I can I’d like to stay in the Prairie Pool, so I don’t have to deal with the locking through game,” he said. That means not chancing to miss the 3 p.m. check-in deadline because of a lock blocked by a barge tow.
“I’m actually hoping to stay around the boat ramp, but I have a long week yet. The river is probably about normal level and pretty stable even though we had some big rains. It’s good with a constant current. Those fish can get in areas since it’s stable and they don’t move around too much.
“I’m sure willow cats will be in play, but I like to cast a lot of jigs and crank baits, and I use live bait if necessary, but I’m not a willow cat guy like some. I’ll be trying to target my fish,” even in a boat without forward-facing sonar, he said.
“I don’t know if forward facing sonar plays a big role in the river. It’s more helpful for finding structure,” he said. And he also agreed that 50 pounds will be needed. “You’ll have to bring around 50, and to cash a check, you’ll have to be in the 30-pound range. We should have some decent weather to fish in. The fish are trying to fatten up before cold weather comes, but you can fish the river until ice-up. You might have to change your tactics, but fall is my favorite time to fish,” Lydic said. “The main goal is to win, but the secondary goal is to finish in the top five to qualify for the 2024 Championship Shootout”.
Meanwhile, Anthony Ostricki of Genoa, WI was in Pool 9. He’ll be in a Yamaha 250-powered boat with Garmin in the electronics array with brother Matt of La Crosse, WI. They were having fun pre-fishing, and sounds like they have found some good pods, while also dealing with those weeds.
“The place we usually fish there’s a lot of weeds. A lot of duck boats are stirring up stuff, and this time of year it gets weedy, too,” Anthony said. They were out Sunday and did not do well but are reporting better luck targeting rocks a few days later.
“We’ll also look at wing dams too. We have some willow cats we have been saving, but we’re also trying other stuff like hair jigs and plastics because we need to save them for Friday and Saturday.”
They’re currently sitting in 14th place for the Rivers Division Team of The Year race. The top 5 teams from the Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team of the Year Race and the top 5 finishers at the championship get a berth to the $100,000 Dollar shootout in 2024. That means every team is in contention at this two-day event.
The championship will feature many different ways to cash in. The payout purse for this event is $11,200, then there is the sidepot of another $1,600 and oh yea, the Yamaha Power Pay where the highest finishing Yamaha Powered boat receives $1,000 and just because, Garmin rewards pays the highest finisher with Garmin electronics $500 U.S. Dollars. That is a Guaranteed CASH PAYOUT of $14,300. Plus, the $4,000 Yamaha T9.9 Kicker engine to the Team of the Year.
So, Fan Nation, glad you’re here with us to experience this historic AIM event. The first Rivers Division Championship, the first Rivers Division Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Team Of The Year, and the first time we’ll have 40 boats qualified for the 2024 AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout, taking place at…
Well, you’ll just have to hang with us a few more months to find that out.
Boats will head out both days at 7 a.m. and must be back at the dock starting at 3 p.m. Good luck, all teams!
In early 2024, registration opens for the entire 2024 qualifier season in AIM’s four divisions. Learn how to get in on the fun 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 fish house rentals, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI, Odyssey Battery.