A Family Affair: Father-Daughter Engebretsons Take AWWS Marinette Championship, Team of the Year

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


A Family Affair: Father-Daughter Engebretsons Take

AWWS Marinette Championship, Team of the Year


What a great finish to another fantastic AIM Weekend Walleye Series season, as Guy and 16-year-old Julia Engebretson, jumped all over those big Bay of Green Bay walleyes summering off the Door Peninsula to take the Garmin/Berkley Wisconsin Division state championship Friday and Saturday (Aug. 27-28) to clinch both it and that coveted Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team Of The Year title.

“Team Engebretson said they were going to try like heck to capture Team Of The Year honors and they did it in what he calls his family fun fishing waters off the Door Peninsula,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “With 50.55 pounds on Day One and 56.73 on Day Two, they racked up 107.26 pounds, winning it by about four, and made Julia the youngest in AIM history to be a part of winning two events and second in another.

“This win meant a payday worth $9,000 from AIM, then another $1,000 for being the highest placing Yamaha powered boat registered in Yamaha Power Pay cash. Oh, then there’s $200 waiting from Offshore Tackle for using their inline planer boards to win. Is there more? Yes there is, they will take home $1200 for their 1st place finish in the side pot cash. Hold on, is there more? Yup, for winning Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team of the year they will receive an Yamaha 9.9 kicker worth more than $4,000.  And, And, because they won the Team of the Year honors and are a registered Yamaha owner in the Yamaha Power Pay Program, they will receive another $5,000 in cash from Yamaha. We’ll bring you more on that later. Quite a haul for a weekend of fun between a father and his daughter.”

 Engebretson said he stuck mainly to waters north of Marinette both in Michigan and Wisconsin during pre-fishing.

“Pre-fishing was very, very good. Most days were 30 fish days, but the fish in Michigan were a bit smaller than over in Door County (those “family fun waters” in Wisconsin).

“The day before the tournament, we checked a few spots that our family have fished together about 8 or 10 years ago when we first learned to fish Green Bay and Door County,” Engebretson explained. Turns out, it was THE move.

“We were fishing pretty good memories from family fishing days. We used to vacation in Door County. Part of those reefs around Peninsula State Park are a manageable boat ride from Marinette (it’s about 25 miles), and there are several reefs and shoals within about five miles of the park,” he said. The only question was would Friday’s weather keep it out of play. It didn’t.

“A lot of tournaments here mean runs of 40 miles-plus, so even if you take it slow it still leaves you with a fair amount of fishing time. On Day One we went to our primary spot there and fished for two hours and only caught one big fish,” he said. Well, let’s just say, Guy, that anyone reading this would be pretty happy with the first fish on the card as a 29-3/4-incher. But, this is the championship. More, please. They used only Number 11 Berkley Flicker Minnows, a great choice by the way for an event sponsored in part by the maker, with those Offshore planer boards.

“We moved to a different spot that I knew the fish were on and knowing from the wind direction that it should fire. We got there and it wasn’t fast and furious. We slowly picked away and caught five to fill our card including four over 29 inches.” He said that, just like that. Matter-of-factly, four over 29. Oh, and one small one, only 26-3/4 inches. Every 45 minutes or so, one came from the rocks.

“Offshore redesigned their planer boards a year or two ago and this time of year with big walleyes and planers, often you have a problem with them submarining, and you lose a lot of fish. They are now just absolutely fantastic. Nothing competes with them. I lose far less fish than I used to,” he said.

“Our last fish came probably about 15 minutes before we had to leave. Not knowing how big the waves were, we left ourselves plenty of time. We knew we had a good enough bag to be contenders. The trip was much better than I expected. We probably only needed a half-hour.”

They had carded 50.53 pounds. Now just about anywhere else in any other tournament, that would have bested the field. Not here. They were sitting in fourth place. The first-place team on Day One had 57.61 pounds. Day Two entered a lot calmer than Friday’s start at Marinette.

“We wanted to go back to where we finished on Day One. I felt like with the wind and what I saw on our sonar there was a significant amount of fish and bait. It was set up right. I wanted to see if that bite was going to continue,” he said. Hang onto that thought, Fan Nation.

“Back on went the Flicker Minnows, on the edge of the rocks and break lines to the deeper water, fishing in 16 to 26 feet,” he said. All you could say after that was, wham. One freight train after another.

“It was fast and furious. We caught I’m going to say 12 fish in the first three hours. It started that they were on the shallower side of the boat and when the sun came out and the wind eased the deeper side started catching. We started right away with a 30-incher. We had a 23, a 28, a 27-3/4, one of those we needed,” he said. Wait, what? Throwing back a 28 without putting it on their Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ card? Yup. What the man said. Here’s why.

“Then we got a 30, a 29, a 31 and a 30. So we had four fish over 30 and one 29-inch fish,” Engebretson said.

“It was surreal. Obviously fishing with Julia, she’s reeling them in one after other. Often, they came two and three at a time. It was somewhat hard to believe it was all happening, and when there was a break, we looked at the card and realized the quality of fish. There were some tears definitely in the boat when it started sinking in what was going on,” he said.

“We knew we’d be close for winning the tournament itself and Team Of The Year was getting closer. It was very emotional. I said at the awards that when Julia and I won at Winneconne (April 25) our ride back was about five miles and I think I cried the whole way. This time we had about a 20 or 25-mile boat ride back and I think I cried the whole way.”

Engebretson said that he had confidence in Green Bay to produce a win for them. “Our priorities were that we wanted to make sure we got a bid to the national championship (the AIM National Championship Shootout, location TBA), by finishing in the top five. The second was to get that Team Of The Year title.

“This being a two-day I was playing it a little more conservative to make sure we came in with a respectable bag to keep us in the running. Day Two I purposely turned my card in and went back to the car and didn’t tell anybody. I expected a top five, I didn’t know where. I wanted to wait and be surprised. So I really didn’t know until Denny announced the second place team,” he said. Julia was also excited, for good reason. “Julia fishes with me quite a bit. This is her third tournament, and she now has a second place and two firsts. I don’t know what she thinks now.”

“One more thing is, when we were fishing on Day Two, we were catching a lot of fish and there were many tournament boats that made a stop on that same rock pile. Everybody saw what was going on, and everybody respected us. Nobody crowded us. I was so proud of the integrity of the individuals all around us. They gave us the space and allowed us to continue on our way,” he said.

Finishing in second place were the Day One leaders, Jake Becker of Genoa City and Chris Rice of Burlington, who recorded 103.02 pounds, about four behind the Engebretsons. They also headed to Door County’s rocks. They claimed a $4,000 AIM check, $720 in side pot cash, plus $500 from Garmin for being the highest-finishing team to use those electronics.

“We had our Number One spot that we went to on Day One and we had the most success trolling crawler harnesses all week, so we got to that spot and our first pass along the shoreline we doubled, with a 28-1/4 and a 31-incher, so we knew we were going to at least stay there until we got five fish,” Becker said.

“We made our next pass and caught another 30. And our next I think was a 25. We made one more and caught a 26 or 27-incher. We were getting our bites in the same area, so I started saying to Chris, let’s just try casting,” he continued.

“We pulled up, hit the spot lock and Chris made one cast and caught one way up in shore. So we thought maybe these fish are up real shallow. We parked in about 12 feet of water and were casting up into five and they were just hammering it. There was another 28 and another 30-1/4 and at that point we had like 54 pounds, and it was only 10 a.m., and we decided to leave that area alone for Saturday,” he said. “We left and went to a kinda community spot and we were going to sit there the rest of the day. If we could upgrade the 28s, ok and if not, we were happy.

“We were going to jig Shiver Minnows. We got to the spot and it was like my second cast and I caught a 29-incher. A half-hour goes by and we get a 29-1/2-incher. It’s a pretty good start. Another hour or something, and we caught one more, that was another 30. We had four over 30 on the first day, and something that everybody dreams about, one of those days where you can’t do anything wrong. We ended up heading in a little early, taking it easy we make it in without breaking anything. And I won’t forget that day the rest of my life. We ended up leading,” he said. They had tallied 57.61 pounds.

On Day Two, they went to the same area, and on their first trolling pass, in cranked a 28-incher. “So we decided to stay until we got our five. In two more passes we caught one. By 11 we only had three fish. We ended up taking one more pass and caught a smaller 25 and decided to leave. I had some other spots that would have been better with a south wind and right away we got a 29-1/2-incher. I knew we needed to get rid of that 25 on the card to have a chance of winning, but that was our last bite.

“On our way in I calculated we would have been 15 minutes early, so we stopped at another, and never got a bite. But we tried until the bitter end, and we had what we had. I knew coming in that the 25-incher was going to haunt us.

“The funny thing is that when Guy won here in 2017, and we also took second. We’ve taken second two times in a row to his first. So hopefully next time the table will turn,” he said with a laugh.

“This year it seems like there were a lot more bait fish hanging round in the bay than usual, so that’s why trolling worked better. I jig Shiver Minnows religiously in August. Walleyes are programmed to feed upwards, and there were times this time where we caught walleyes in over 40 feet of water just five feet down,” Becker said.

Here’s how the rest of the top five, who all get in invite to next year’s National Championship Shootout, line up: In third, and $3,000 to the good, were Greg and Max Reckelberg, of Luxemburg, WI, with 102.10 pounds. Fourth place, $2,000 and $480 in side pot cash went to Mark Kumorkiewicz of Pleasant Prairie, and Lynn Niklasch of Oconomowoc, who boated 86.83 pounds. In fifth were Jon Ohnesorge and Vince Johnson of Hartford. They netted $1,500 with 86.16 pounds.

There it is, Fan Nation. What another great season in the books. You’ve been with us from the snows of March to the heat of August, watching, cheering and dreaming that someday, it might be you on that Top Five list.

All you need to do to make it so in 2022 is the desire. It’s easy. AIM is the most inexpensive major tournament circuits to enter, with National implications and so many ways to make money, and it’s made for you, the everyday angler who’s got the know-how, the desire and that confidence, not only in yourself and your partner, but as Guy Engebretson pointed out, confidence that the water will produce.

That’s all it takes. Hey you, out there in Wisconsin. You in Minnesota. And especially you in North Dakota. You’ve got what it takes. You don’t need to have big backers. You’ve got this. Come join in the fun. When next year’s events are announced at AIM’s website, dip a toe or four in. The 2021 season has been an absolute blast. We can’t wait to see what 2022 will net. Meantime, keep tabs on what’s happening at AIM’s Facebook page throughout the winter. See you in spring!

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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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