On To North Dakota: Two Veterans, One Newbie Predict What’ll Happen Sunday For AWWS Qualifier on Lake Sak

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


On To North Dakota: Two Veterans, One Newbie Predict

What’ll Happen Sunday For AWWS Qualifier on Lake Sak  


What a monstrous lake, North Dakota’s Sakakawea. The nation’s third-largest manmade reservoir with a bonanza of walleye-holding gravel points, channels, bays and holes, all open for AIM anglers Sunday (June 20) for the third state championship qualifier, the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Pure Powersports Open.

“Hey North Dakota, we’re back. The teams are ready, Lake Sak is looking good, and so we hear are the walleye therein. Let’s get’er done,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “There’s a lot at stake here, from who’s leading in North Dakota Team Of The Year standings going into the last qualifier, not to mention the cash for those still standing on Sunday afternoon. Latest weather forecast says it’ll be breezy at our launch site of Garrison, with a high in the low 70s. In other words, a great day to be on a great body of water where you can catch fish just about any way you want. Especially in June. All that’s left to decided is which way is best.”

Looking forward already to check out his new home water is Minnesota transplant and perennial AIM fave Ross Grothe, who moved his family out to Baldwin, ND, about 15 miles north of Bismarck, and 45 from Sakakawea. He’s reporting it’s a little breezy already there, but then, it always is in NoDak. Breezy there is defined as a gale where he used to be from. Better get used to it, Ross. He’s mapped out a plan for Sunday and is ready to get to it. He’s also switched out a few other things. You’ll now see him in a new Warrior 208 with a 300 Yamaha four-stroke hung on the back.


“We love the place. It’s an overwhelming body of water to learn and explore, and as a team (his partner is son Roger on this gig), we’re going in completely green but excited about the opportunity to fish here,” Ross said.

“I feel like, ‘where to begin and where to end’ here, but we’ve got a game plan and we’ll stick to it. Regardless, we’re going to have fun and look forward to learning about the lake on a daily basis. And I could spend 20 years here and I’ll still be learning it,” Grothe added. “I know how to walleye fish, but this is all new. This is like starting over.”

Air temps earlier in the week in the 80s will be cooler on Sunday, but he feels the earlier even heavier heat may have driven the fish deeper, and thinks trolling is the ticket.

“I think with the water warming, the fish will be moving deeper and will be more spread out. It might be a trolling crankbaits or bottom bouncer situation. We’re looking at anywhere from nine to 25 feet deep but a lot depends on the water clarity and where the bait fish are located,” he said.

That’s important in Sakakawea, with perch and smelt the main entrée for the lake’s walleye.

Bob Sabo of Minot will be in his Merc 300 Verado-pushed boat come Sunday, and also is looking forward to his first time on Sakakawea’s eastern end this year. He’s got just a bit more experience than Grothe, however, having fished the lake all his life. Come Thursday, he’ll be on it for three days of figuring out the “where’s and with what’s” of the tournament. Hopefully.

“The weather has been ‘rollercoastery’ this year, but this week it’s a little more stable. That will raise water temperatures and hopefully turn the fish on. I’ve been hearing that the east end has been pretty slow. But there’s gonna be teams that are going to catch fish,” Sabo said.

He’s looking for 30 to 33 pounds to take it all. “Sakakawea is one of those lakes where nothing I’d tell you to do is a wrong way to fish. June is normally the gangbusters month so that’s why I’m kinda surprised at the reports” of slower fishing, he said. “I’ll fish with anything I think I’ll catch fish with, but I’m primarily a crankbait guy but I’ll try anything.”

Who’ll come in with that best bag of Lake Sak gravel logs? We’ll all know starting at 5 p.m. Sunday when the online weigh-in takes place. Saturday’s online rules and registration meeting starts at 8 p.m. Sunday morning, it all gears up with boat inspections starting at 5:30 a.m. at the Fort Stevenson State Park launch. Boats get the “Go!” sign starting at 7 a.m., and the first flight returns at 3 p.m. Good luck teams!

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, 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