Double Trouble: Fighting Wind And Four-Footers, Team Wilson, Billimeyer Take AWWS Mille Lacs Qualifier
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 16, 2021
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Double Trouble: Fighting Wind And Four-Footers,
Team Wilson, Billimeyer Take AWWS Mille Lacs Qualifier
Despite wind that kicked up afternoon four-footers and higher on Mille Lacs Sunday (June 13), Max Wilson and Travis Billimeyer honed in on shallow fish with their Garmin Panoptix LiveScope and tossed leeches to bring home a $9,000 check in the season’s second qualifier, the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/The Boat Center Open.
“These two also cashed in on a couple of cool bonuses in getting that winning weight of 38.75 pounds, squeezing by the second-place team by about ¾-pound,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “In addition to AIM’s $9,000, they scooped up $1,900 in side pot cash. They also were using Power-Poles to hold them steady in that wind, good for another $250. With all the activity on Mille Lacs this past weekend with at least four majors, the fish were pressured a bit, but they figured out a program that brought them the win.”
Wilson, from Campbellsport, WI, south of another perennial AIM favorite, Lake Winnebago, and Billlimeyer, from West Kilkenney, MN, are no strangers on Mille Lacs. They’ve taken third in the last two AIM qualifiers here, and used the same program that took them to fourth in another recent major tourney on the lake.
“Using our LiveScope, we targeted individual fish in shallow with slip bobbers and leeches mated to a 3/8-ounce jig on a fluorocarbon leader,” he said. They stayed all day in an area on the southeast part of the lake, but he’s not revealing which part of the southeast part just yet. If ever. After other boats pressured the fish in the area, they did what most wouldn’t have done. They went shallow. Because they saw fish on that LiveScope.
“We slid in shallow, making short, precise pitches in five feet of water, and that’s where the bigger fish had moved to. We found those fishing Friday and went back out and relocated where those fish had gone,” Wilson said.
“The morning started pretty hot. We had six fish in about 15 minutes,” Wilson said. But, they weren’t the right ones. All too small to win an AIM Catch-Record-Release™ event, where the biggest fish rule.
About 8:45, they headed to the shallows and caught their first good fish, a 26-3/4-incher. “Within 25 to 30 minutes we got the two 27-1/2s back-to-back. We stayed in one spot all day. It was a big area, doing big, long sweeps with our LiveScope. It was like a big flat and fish were spread out. We had almost all our weight by about 9:30. Then we caught our last 25-3/4-incher with about 15 minutes left. That helped kinda make the distance for us” between first and second, Wilson said. Yup, like .72 pounds distance. That’s almost equal to what $9,000 in twenties weighs.
The wind that blew up in the afternoon also didn’t help, but by then they had carded all but one of the fish that won it. They knew going in, it would be close.
“In 2019 we thought we won it here. And someone had an even more fantastic day than us then. We knew we were going to be at least in the top, but we were super excited to finally seal the deal,” Wilson said.
The pair’s next AIM stops will be July 15-16 for the year’s second Quest For The Best on the Bay of Green Bay at Marinette, WI, followed by the Berkley Open AIM Wisconsin Division qualifier July 18. Both still have openings.
In second place and also battling the wind were Chris Berglund of Grand Rapids, MN, and Scot MacKenzie of Big Lake. They did it off Spirit Island, a well-known big fish spot.
“I’d been pre-fishing the lake for about a week and a half. We broke it into sections and worked them every day. In one, several boats in another tournament showed that area had good fish,” Berglund said. “We didn’t look at it until the day before the tournament, and on Saturday pulled a 25-3/4-incher there. We kinda made a game plan that we’d go there at some point. We had a little better bite in the Vineland area and got one fish, a 20-1/2.” but after that, not so much, he said. “So, we slid to a different area and there weren’t fish being caught there that would win.
“As we were passing Spirit Island we noticed no one there, and within the first 15 minutes we got a 20-1/2. I told Scott that we had until 11 a.m. and if we didn’t start upgrading, we’d be in scramble mode.
“It was about five to 11, and we had a 26-3/4-incher come in, and we just got done recording that and I put the line out and got another 26-3/4. About 10 or 15 minutes later, we got another one that was a 27-1/2. I looked at Scott and he had the same look and we both said this is where we’re going to sit,” Berglund said.
Creek chubs on a plain No. 2 hook was doing the deed on a gravel/rock transition in 10 to 12 feet of water. Small, or large, he said, didn’t seem to matter, but bigger fish did come on bigger minnows, five- to six-inchers, casted as far as they could, and slowly pulled back. Feel the weight, open the bail, let it chew for a bit, and cross their eyes.
They both also knew those two 20-1/2-inch fish would hold them back. They upgraded one with a 24-incher. Still needed one more.
“Then as the wind kept picking up and shifted with big waves it was hard to keep the boat where we wanted,” he said, staring at the waves building to four and five feet.
“We ended up getting another 25-1/2-incher, and around 1, got our last, a 25-3/4-incher, but couldn’t upgrade the 25-1/2,” he said.
With the waves growing, they didn’t know how long it would take them to get back, and ended up getting in early, but still $3,800 to the good for finishing second.
In third place with 37.53 pounds and a $2,500 check were Will Pappenfus of Shevlin, MN, and Nick Cekalla of Emily, MN. Fourth place, $1,400 and a side pot of $1,140 went to John Hoyer of Orono, MN and Kyle Minke of Lindstrom, for boating 37.08 pounds. In fifth was Kent Andersen of Amery, Wi, and Justin Schneider of Chilton WI. They earned $1,300 plus $760 in side pot cash.
Hey Fan Nation, we’re not done yet. Not by a North Dakota mile. Up this Sunday, it’s your turn in the funhouse that’s huge Lake Sakakawea from Garrison. See you there!
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.
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