What’s It Take To Be AIM North Dakota Team Of The Year? Consistency, Twice, For Williston’s Krieger And Ellingson

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


What’s It Take To Be AIM North Dakota Team Of The Year? Consistency, Twice, For Williston’s Krieger And Ellingson


It bears repeating, time after time: It doesn’t take winning every time. It takes true consistency to do something transformative, and for Williston, North Dakota’s Justin Krieger and Rick Ellingson, they’ve shown that ability again, capturing the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Yamaha Motor Corp USA North Dakota State Team Of The Year title for the second time in three years at the AIM state championship Friday and Saturday, July 30-31.

“There’s no magic in what these guys do, and yet, there IS magic in what these guys do, because they create it by taking the steps they need to rack up those points every time,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “With that title of North Dakota Team Of The Year comes that new Yamaha 9.9 four-stroke kicker to boot. These two have a plan, they stick to it, and they wanted to share some tips that all you out there in Fan Nation can easily copy.”

Krieger and Ellingson showed that consistency throughout the season, from the cold and snow on an April Sunday in the Missouri River near Bismarck, to the championship at Devils Lake in July. You don’t need to win every time to be Team Of The Year. You just need to show up.

The pair took 11th place in Bismarck in April, third on Lake Audubon, the appendix of Lake Sakakawea, in late May, and second on Devils Lake. After dropping their showing at New Town, they accrued 727.13 points, and won TOY by 26+.

“It’s all been kind of a blur to me when you’re standing there. This is everyone’s goal. We won in 2019, and now this year, which is unbelievable,” Krieger said. “At Devils Lake we went out with the intention of securing Team Of The Year. We went out on Day Two and came in with 19.43 pounds, which exceeded our expectations greatly,” he said.

Krieger said that taking your time, and knowing, to paraphrase a famous song, that “fish gotta eat,” is key to their success.

“We both grew up fishing Lake Sak with our families. And we both have the same fishing style. We like rocks. Anything that’s got rocks. Points, gravel bars. We’ll grind on them for eight hours if we need to. Sometimes the fish don’t bite right away. You have to be there when these fish finally bite. It’s a lot of patience. You’ll see a lot of boats pull into a spot for 10 minutes and then they’re going to another. We’ll stay. We concentrated on rocks at Devils Lake,” Krieger said.

“Another reason is our bait. We always have good bait, and we take really good care of it. It’s no secret, we use creek chubs, six- to eight-inchers (although they also used big leeches on Devils). We also look at wind direction, where the consistent wind’s been blowing. Most AIM tournaments don’t have a boundary so we can go as far or stay as close to the launch as we want. And you’ve got to have a little luck on your side, too,” he added.

All you anglers in North Dakota wondering about trying an AIM tournament next season, listen up. You can’t win if you don’t enter. The more teams who enter, the bigger the checks. It’s also more than just a check at the end of the day. You’re also preserving the resource with AIM’s easy-to-use and exclusive Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ format. This is what you’re missing, said Krieger:

“I love fishing AIM because of the format. All these fish get to live. It’s not a kill tournament. You get to watch them all swim away. That’s the Number One reason. I like seeing the bigger ones go back and seeing what they potentially become. You can’t land a 33 if you’re keeping a 28,” Krieger said.

“We’ve also gained so many friends from this. These are really great people and anglers. Everything about it, the competition, the people, the people who run it, everything,” he added.  

Finishing in second place was the team of Lonnie Jacobs and Doyle Schwanke, with Mitch Lang subbing, accruing 701.33 points. Third went to Darren and Heide Schneider and Chris Wahus subbing, totaling 668.70 points. In fourth, Andy Skalicky and Jason Hallof scored 664.85 points. And in fifth, Chris Scouten and Evan Reimers, with Danny Swenson subbing, totaled 664.12 points.

All five are automatically invited to the next AIM National Championship Shootout, to be announced in early 2022, for a chance at that beautiful Warrior V1898DC laden with Garmin Panoptix goodies and on the transom, a Yamaha 150 four-stroke.

Now let’s see what you teams in Minnesota and Wisconsin can bring to next year’s party at your championships this month, which also will determine your own Team Of The Year Top Five. It’s going to be a great finish to a great season!

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