Devils Is Hot As The Devil As AIM Anglers Take On This Quirky Lake For The North Dakota State Championship

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Devils Is Hot As The Devil As AIM Anglers Take On

This Quirky Lake For The North Dakota State Championship


Fish in the weeds. In the main lake. In Pelican. Fish just about everywhere. Even in the green algae soup that is East Bay. Word is Devils Lake is on fire as the AIM Weekend Walleye Series teams converge for the Yamaha Motor Corp USA North Dakota State Championship this Friday and Saturday, July 30-31.

“Some of our qualifying North Dakota teams have already been on the water and on fish for a while, and they’re reporting lots of fish, but finding those winners is always the challenge,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “A couple of young anglers got into them a few weeks ago and showed what this lake can produce. They weighed five walleyes over 38-1/2 pounds, one of the largest five fish totals ever recorded here, and if the kids can do it, AIM teams can too.”

Currently in third place in the North Dakota Yamaha Team Of The Year standings, Andy Skalicky and Jason Hallof of Minot would be over the top happy with a first-day bag that size in their Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered unit. Skalicky says he’s only fished Devils Lake in a few other AIM events, but the last time was nearly the same period last year.

“We’ve already scouted out about 25 different spots we’ll pre-fish starting Wednesday (today). We’ll be putting in long hours out there and it will probably even be dark by the time we pull off the water,” he said. “We’re going to concentrate on shallow weed bites and deep structure as well. It’s kind of one of those lakes where you can fish them in just about any depth,” Skalicky said. He’s also definitely counting on a potential live bait bite.

“Crawlers and jumbo leeches are always pretty good on Devils, and I never also put away the crank baits,” he said, including putting down a Flicker Minnow or several and just letting it ride. Hauling out the bobber rigs to dangle a squirmy, juicy large leech in front of fish is not out of the question.

Perhaps with an eye towards what those kids did, Skalicky threw down the gauntlet, saying the winner may have to come in with 60 to 65 pounds for two days.

“From what I can tell and hear, Devils has been a big fish bite lately. We’re going against some really good anglers who know how to find’em,” he said.

If there was ever a more enthusiastic believer in AIM’s exclusive Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ format in North Dakota, John Aarfor is it. At age 51, he’ll be on the water with son Chandler, 25. John’s from West Fargo, Aaron from Milnor.

“This is our second full year of living the AIM dream,” John Arafor said. “I’ve always wanted to competitive fish and never had the right boat to do it,” until the last few years. They’ll be in a Merc 300 Pro XS which will soon have a Garmin Livescope on the bow.

He’s a bit more familiar with what Devils is up to and is warning teams that because the lake is about two feet lower than during AIM’s last visit, be cautious on those notorious spots that can either suck lures and rigs into neverland, or put some serious hurt on lower units. But, he agrees that the lake is fishing well.

“I was just there this past weekend, and the bite right now is pretty phenomenal. We found it’s a bottom bouncer live bait bite using crawlers and leeches, and a lot of anglers are also using Gulp!. We’re seeing tons of numbers but you’re going to have to weed through smaller ones to find the right pods.

We’ve been in East Bay and on the main basin, but what we’re seeing is, a lot are moving into the main,” Aarfor said. “We’ve caught fish, just not tournament fish. We’ve side-scanned them but couldn’t get them to go. There are lots of hazards out there right now. you’ve got to be careful and trust your electronics.”

He’s also prepared with slip bobbers on board. “We’ve just got to find the right rock pile and it’s game on,” he said.

Aarfor said that while they’re out of the running for Team Of The Year, they’re giving their all to get on the championship podium, where he’s guessing 20 to 25 pounds a day will get them there.

“We just love the AIM format. I love being able to go against some of the best who do this for a living. We’ve learned so much these last two years, how to fish shallow, when to fish deep. Last year we drove the struggle bus and should have turned left when we turned right. We’re eliminating dead water more than we ever have. Nobody’s going to fish harder than Chandler and me. AIM has given me the opportunity to tournament walleye fish, and this is just awesome.”

Aaron Johnson’s email address contains “pitchin cranks” so you can bet the Devils Lake resident who’s fishing with wife Michele leans into that method. But, he said, “you name it and we’ve been throwing it” so far during pre-fishing. Bobber rigs included.

“We’ve fished between two and 42 feet and caught fish at every depth. They’ve been more scattered than I like to see but we’re cycling through spots,” Aaron Johnson said. They’ll be under Merc 400 Verado power, and are relying more and more on their Garmin Livescope, which like others before him, he calls a game-changer.

“Michele called a fish out today. She said, ‘there’s a fish out 25 feet,’ and I cast to it, and hooked a 25-1/2-incher on plastics,” he said.

“Over the last three days I’ve casted over 100 fish that look good but they didn’t want to eat. I have five different baits and cycle through them. I just drop the Power-Pole on’em,” he said. He also carries Power-Pole’s Charge battery management system.

He’s also been pushing through East Devils Lake’s algae bloom. “It’s thick, 2, 3, 4 feet thick, like a carpet. You’ve just got to get below it. It will slow your boat down by about 3 mph,” he said. He said wind could be helpful in breaking it up.

“We’re busy also running Pelican (Bay). We were on the main bay for the most part. It’s going to be the teams that have enough spots to grind it out over two days. It’ll take 42 to 45 pounds to win it, a little over 20 a day,” he predicted.

The first proof of those educated guesses comes Friday afternoon when boats return to  Woodland Resort starting at 3 p.m. The Day 1 results will be online at 5 p.m. Then on Saturday, at 5pm the championship team and the Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team of the Year will be announced.

Teams will launch Friday and Saturday morning from Woodland starting at 7 a.m., following boat inspections beginning at 5:30 a.m. each day. You can follow the action and results at AIM’s Facebook page.

That’s not all we’ve got for you, Fan Nation, this weekend. Stay tuned, Sunday as the final qualifier in the Minnesota Division takes place at Duluth. We’ll report on what teams there are finding in a bit. Good luck all anglers!

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 inc.   

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Berkley, X2Power by Batteries Plus, Abu-Garcia, Fenwick, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Quality Flow Systems, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Marinette, WI