First Time’s A Charm: Walleye Trip Into Superior Wins $9,500 At AIM’s Final Minnesota Qualifier Of Season
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 4, 2021
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
First Time’s A Charm: Walleye Trip Into Superior Wins
$9,500 At AIM’s Final Minnesota Qualifier Of Season
Whether it’s watching outdoor shows, viewing individual angler posts, or reading print including fishing reports, do your research before hitting any water body you’ve never fished for walleye before definitely pays off.
That’s the lesson from Jason Betzler and partner Mike Christensen, who won the final Minnesota Division AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Musky House Marine Open in Duluth on Sunday (Aug. 1). They took home $9,500 as they look forward to the state championship a short three weeks from now.
“This was a great win for them, using smaller crankbaits than what most would use this time of year,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “They used that knowledge to their advantage to land 28.07 pounds Sunday, which netted them $8,000 from AIM and another $1,500 in side pot cash.
“Had they registered their Yamaha 300 for its Power Pay program, it may have meant another $750, and if someone wins Team of the Year with a qualifying registered Yamaha at the Mercury Marine Lake of the Woods Championship, it’ll mean $5,000 more in their pockets. Meanwhile, the second-place team used a little trick with help from a Great Lakes effect called a seiche to get them there.”
Betzler, from Princeton, Minnesota, and Christensen, who now hails from Minneapolis, Kansas (no foolin’), concentrated on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin waters to troll Bandits and Salmo Hornets to fill their card.
“Actually it was the first time I’d been on Superior walleye fishing, but I live about 2-1/2 hours from Duluth so I’ve been there trout fishing,” Betzler said.
“Pre-fishing coming up on Friday, I did all my research before I got there, anything I could find. So we started covering the south Wisconsin shoreline,” he said. “Since we could run multiple lines, we noticed smaller baits were producing more. I also knew it was really super important to dial in the depth, and we never had to change. We were running pretty strictly 25 feet down using lead core.
“We came out Sunday not being real familiar and respecting that water, we wanted to go a little farther but we were about eight miles down the shore and decided to start fishing there, and had our five fish on the card in about 20 minutes,” Betzler said. “I think the first pass was about a 1-1/2 or two-mile run, and in an area where during pre-fishing we caught a good one.”
Their program was so productive that they started pulling double hookups, starting with a 20-3/4 incher. “As soon as we saw that go the other rod went. I was seeing them on my electronics, so we’re seeing them saying ‘there’s one, and it would hit,” he said. Two 20-3/4-inchers and one 26-incher later, they turned to go back.
“No more had we turned to troll back southwest along the shore and coming back into 30 feet, our 28-1/2-incher hit. On both those I had slowed the boat down to about 1.6 mph, then really killed the power and put it back in gear and that’s when they hit. We had numerous times where we had fish on all four rods,” he said.
When they ran back to Duluth’s Rices Point Landing to check in, they were feeling good about what they’d found, but still nervous. “We knew we had a really good bag but figured this is a big body of water, and in most tournaments usually at least 10 boats get into a bite very similar, so we were hoping for somewhere in the top five. We were really surprised. We were chatting with others and they were doing just awful. It’s funny because they knew exactly what we were doing, but that’s fishing,” Betzler said.
He and Christensen will definitely be at Lake of the Woods (LOW) in Baudette Aug. 20-21.
“I would say I’ve got 20 years in there and in 2007 I won a boat. I try to fish it every year if I can. It’s a real treat,” he said.
Andy Gustafson of Marengo, Wisconsin, and Kyle Williamson of Drummond, Wisconsin, finished second, about 1.6 pounds behind the winners, with 26.38 pounds, earning them $3,000. They had Garmin Panoptix Livescope aboard.
“Pre-fishing, we eliminated a lot of water, but when Kyle was in his boat and I was in mine we each easily caught over a 40-pound bag in two different spots,” he said, also on the south shore about 15 miles from the start.
“Kyle found them in 25 feet using big baits, Bandits. The biggest they make, and I was using similar lures. One thing we noticed was the way the seiche was running,” he said.
Seiches are actually strong lake currents generally stirred up by storms, and sometimes causing water to leave entire areas for a few hours, stranding boats before flowing back like a mini-tsunami. Gustafson said their success lay in figuring out what the fish were doing after the storms that hit the area the Monday prior. And in their case, it was trolling north-to-south, not east-to-west as others were doing, he felt.
“When we got to our spot, everybody there was trolling east-to-west, and we weren’t catching much, some small ones, and when we reeled in the fish, we noticed them drifting one way. I said to Kyle, ‘we’ve got to troll THAT way, south.’ We could see one of our areas, and no one was fishing, so we got there and had it to ourselves. We were trolling north with about five-footers coming in, our kicker motor screaming and electric troller on number six power setting,” he said.
They also changed out baits, going smaller, to a Number 7 size. Another factor to consider.
“We put one on and got a 24-1/2-incher and swapped out the others and got a 28-3/4-incher. Trolling north was the only way we could get bit. We cycled through at least 25 fish doing that, he said.
The pair also will be in line to fish the championship at Lake of the Woods, Gustafson said, adding that this second-place finish puts them in a great spot for Minnesota Team Of The Year points going into that event. “We did pretty well up there last year. We’re pumped for it.”
Fishing in third and earning $2,500 plus a $900 side pot were Kelly and Collin O’Toole of Duluth, who boated 24.70 pounds. Ending in fourth, with $1,400 and 24.25 pounds were Will Pappenfus of Shevlin, Minnesota and Nick Cekalla of Emily. In fifth with 23.37 pounds, good for $1,300 plus $600 in side pot cash, were Jeff Bruska and James Swaggert of Buffalo, Minnesota.
Now we’re on to LOW on Aug. 20-21, and the season-capper championship in Wisconsin Aug. 27-28 at Marinette on the upper Bay of Green Bay. AIM will give you a heads-up on what to expect prior to both events at the Facebook page and website, which will wrap up another great season of fun and seeing who’s smarter, the fish or the angler. Get ready, Fan Nation, it’s not over yet!
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