When You Can See The Forest AND The Trees: Wolden, Leininger Go Big and Go Home Big at AIM Championship

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


When You Can See The Forest AND The Trees: Wolden,

Leininger Go Big and Go Home Big at AIM Championship


The saying you can’t see the forest for the trees didn’t apply to AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout winners Tyler Wolden and Nate Leininger, who plucked 61.02 pounds of walleye after walleye out of sunken trees on Wisconsin’s Lake Petenwell to take home that 1898DC Warrior Boat, Yamaha 150 four-stroke and Garmin electronics worth more than $55,000.  

“Here’s a tip for any lake with sunken trees: certain times of the year, that’s the place to be, and Wolden and Leininger used their Garmin LiveScope—yup, they also qualified for $500 in incentive cash from Garmin—to sniff out those winning fish,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director.  “Sixty-one pounds and change is a huge weight anywhere you go, and these two as well as our other top teams demonstrated that The Pete is a championship lake to produce a championship bag, which is why AIM came here.”

Fox added that the championship also will be featured on an upcoming segment of Larry Smith Outdoors on Fox Sports North/Fox Sports Wisconsin and The Sportsman Channel.

While their teammates tested the water all week with cranks, Wolden, from Carlos, MN, and Leininger, from Miltona, MN, using their LiveScope to locate specific trees at the lake’s northwest end holding their target fish in about 17 to 18 feet of water during pre-fish.

“We found that area, that was about the size of a football field, that held the most fish,” Wolden said. It was about four miles from the launch. So how’d it go on Day One? Here’s how:

“On Day One we were using primarily a jig and minnow. In Wisconsin we could run six lines so we put dead sicks off with Lindy Rigs and big minnows, suckers, chubs, and also did two bobbers off the back,” Wolden said. Their first card fish? Just a 29-1/2-incher is all, which took a jig and curiously, a full crawler, hung on a bobber.

We caught a lot of little ones to start and around 8:45 caught that one,” he continued. “We already had our five then, so we adjusted mid-morning to another tree that we’d found. We waited to get on it and caught a 28-incher on a jig and minnow and that filled our card for the day.”

Here’s where watchful waiting comes into play, he said. “We knew we weren’t going to be leading, but we knew we put ourselves into contention.” In fact, they were sitting in perfect striking distance, in fifth place, with 24.81 pounds, a weight that would win many one-day tournaments.

“In Day Two, we took off and went right back to where we caught the 28 on Day One, moved to another tree, and started hitting’em,” he said. By 8:30, they had five, all in about 30 minutes’ time.  “They started hitting everything, bobbers, jigs. Our first one came in 10 minutes, a 27-incher,” Wolden said, on a dead-sticked big minnow.

“The next one was a 26 on a bobber and a chub. We caught a 25-3/4 on a dead stick rig, a 25-1/4 on a jig and minnow and then there was a lull for a long, long time,” he said.

That’s four on the card. Not five. No doubt lots of anxious minutes ticked by until 20 minutes before they had to pick up. Then, Pete produced another giant, a 26-1/4-incher, on a jig and minnow. “That one put us at the top,” Wolden said.

“We felt like we put ourselves in a position to win. We had 36.21 pounds on Day Two, about six more than the Day One leader. It was up to the walleye gods after that,” he said. He was right. They were the last team sitting in the weigh-in hotseat when Denny took it down to the wire and announced the pair as 2021 Shootout winners.

Second-place winners Shawn Kahut of Fond du Lac and Brett Walser of St. Cloud also were working with other teams out of their 300 Mercury-powered, and Garmin-equipped platform. While their partners trolled during pre-fishing, they also picked poking around the trees, and they found a spot “loaded with fish.”

Day One, we started catching and I want to say we had 20 pounds by 9 a.m. We were rigging with chubs and suckers and also casting leeches and chubs on jigs,” Kahut said.

They were on a spot near a river channel, and fish would come and go, and it seemed like they were always new fish moving in, and ready to feed.

The first day we were catching fish from 12 to 27-3/4 inches. You had to be right in those trees,” Kahut said. Stick a fish, he said, and “you’d either snag a tree or get it through the trees. You just had to find fish that were in the trees.”

The first five came quickly, then when the bite slowed, they headed to another spot, and found themselves in second place, out of first by about a half-pound. They went back to their original spot, fished nearby and just couldn’t hook up.

“Then we knew we had to find different fish. We were on the move and don’t think we had another legal fish at noon, so we ground it out, ground it out, and next thing you know we found another tree holding fish, and we caught a 28-3/4 incher and then a 24 within 10 minutes,” he said. “We found another clump near and popped a 27-3/4. We had five on the card because earlier we put a 13-incher on it. We ended the day with 29.32 pounds. We were trying to get rid of that 13, and just couldn’t get another fish.”

That effort, landing a two-day total of 59.69 pounds, however, did land them two Power-Poles of their choice.

In third, also the new owners of two Power-Poles, were Chad Bleeker of Ellsworth, WI, and Jeremy Stoner, of Roberts, WI. They tallied 52.75 pounds. Fourth place and a new Garmin Force trolling motor went to Jeff Holz of Dodge Center, MN., and Andy Hage of North Mankato, MN. They came in with a two-day total of 50.98 pounds. Dylan Peotter of Kaukauna, WI, and Anthony Englebert of Little Chute, WI, took fifth and $1,000 with 50.85 pounds.

Next up, don’t go anywhere, Fan Nation. Get ready, because AIM’s heading north and west this week to Minnesota’s walleye factory, aka Lake Mille Lacs, and the first of two Quest For The Best events. This one will be out of Isle, Minnesota’s McQuoid’s Inn. There are still openings, so go to AIM’s website to register. We’ll preview what to expect tomorrow as the heat wave breaks a bit just in time for AIM’s visit.

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