When You Want The Best, Head To Mille Lacs, Where AIM’s Quest For The Best No. 1 Happens This Week

Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


When You Want The Best, Head To Mille Lacs,

Where AIM’s Quest For The Best No. 1 Happens This Week


Where do you go when you put on a tournament with potentially the richest cash pot in AIM history? Set your course, of course, for Isle, Minnesota and Lake Mille Lacs, site of this season’s first of two Quest For The Best tournaments, this Thursday and Friday, June 10 and 11.

“AIM is back at Mille Lacs for two events this week for several reasons. Number One on the list is its legendary walleye with the potential for bags up to 80 pounds for the first event, The Quest For The Best, two-day fishfest,” says Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “We’ve also got a great headquarters in McQuoid’s Inn, and two great presenting sponsors for The Quest in McQuoid’s and Quality Flow Systems of New Prague, Minnesota. The Quest is going to be a real shootout, with lake conditions close to summer mode, an early mayfly hatch and all those Mille Lacs walleye waiting to say ‘yup, let’s play.’

“And come Sunday, here’s the other reason: we’ll do a two-peat on the lake with a Minnesota Division Qualifier in the AIM Weekend Walleye Series. That event is topped out at 100 boats,” so it’s going to be a busy weekend here in Isle,” Fox adds.

“The lake also is setting up perfectly for AIM’s Catch-Record-Release format. No worries about slots. No worries about this lake’s regulations that change by the month. The team with the 10 biggest fish over two days Thursday and Friday wins,” Fox adds. “Let’s get to it!”

Tim Potoczny, owner of McQuoid’s, says the lake is ready. “It’s been pretty good, with things a few weeks ahead of schedule. The big schools of smaller fish are out deeper in their normal summer spots, but the big fish have been a little elusive this year, but I’m sure AIM teams will find’em,” Potoczny said. He’s been on the water recently, and the lake is producing, he adds.

“Between three of us, we probably boated and released 35 or so in about 2-1/2 hours. This lake is really special,” he says.

John Hoyer of Orono, MN, is captain of one of the teams that will be on the lake this week with a 250 Yamaha powered boat under his feet, and he’s on the water now. With him is Kyle Minke of Lindstrom, MN. He’s been fishing Mille Lacs for about 20 years, and he’s dealing with a mayfly hatch that is early this year, possibly brought on by an early heat wave and a water level he’s estimating is about 18 inches lower than normal.

“Things are progressing really quickly the way the water temperatures have warmed,” Hoyer says. “There’s always an opportunity for fishing shallow on this lake, so we’re checking both ends of the spectrum.” That means checking those shallower hangouts, as well as the deeper mud flats mid-lake.

“All the bugs hatch in the mud so once those start happening, it’s like a mass exodus from the shallows for the fish,” he adds. “I would predict that if you had a 26-inch average for fish over the two days, you’ll definitely be right up there.”

Why did he come to Mille Lacs for the Quest? Pretty simple.

“This is my favorite time of year to fish. It’s one of my favorite bodies of water, and this is a big money tournament. The first Quest For the Best on the Mississippi River (in 2020) was a really well-run event and it had a lot of great competitors, and I really enjoy fishing high-level tournaments against the best,” Hoyer says. “I’m always trying to fish as shallow as possible. I was licking my chops because generally the water should be 15 degrees cooler, but now that it’s warming it’s changing so fast, I’m realizing I might have to use live bait.”

Tom Huynh of Moorhead, MN has been a tournament bass angler for years, and last year he and partner Nate Wolske of Boy River decided to give walleye a whirl. Good choice. The pair won the 2020 AIM qualifier on Leech Lake. Then they came to Lake Winnibigoshish for another qualifier and took fourth place.

In other words, keep your eye on this guy.

He says he wants to keep that northern Minnesota streak going by doing well here. They ’ll be running one of two Mercury Pro XS-powered boats, with Garmin electronics on the dash.

“This year I’m going all in on walleye,” Huynh says, who fishes lots of bass tournaments, and happened to pick AIM last year after several were rescheduled. “It’s not often that we get to fish these close to home, so I said I’m going to try Quest For The Best.” He’ll be on Mille Lacs starting Tuesday.

“I’m thinking I’m going to be looking around with electronics first. I do enjoy fishing deep,” he says, a technique which may favor him, considering that the early mayfly hatch may send fish to the flats. Always follow the food, as they say, right, Tom?

“But then, Mille Lacs is a relatively shallow with a max depth around 40 feet. I’m going to look around deep on the sides of some of the humps and structure to see if I can’t find some of those roamers,” Huynh says. Right now, he’s betting on his go-to rig of light jigs and an assortment of plastics from Berkley and Bizzbait.

“I know a guy who was in a tournament there the last two days and one a week prior. And the winners are catching between 30 and 32 pounds a day, so that’s going to be the goal. I do think that if it fishes anything like what I’m used to, I’m thinking I can get 28 to 30 pounds each day. If someone’s consistent, then they’ve got a chance of winning. It’s about consistency.”

Kade Lynch of Bismarck, ND, is on Mille Lacs with partner Tanner Ouelette in their Mercury 250 Verado-powered boat, and they’re on fish. But they’re not saying where, or what size. That should give you a hint.

“We’re jumping from spot to spot. The lake is changing fast and we’re finding new things are working and things that weren’t working are starting to work, so that’s where we are in the process,” Lynch says.

Got that? Thought so. He also said things “haven’t been too bad.” Which is another way to say, hint, hint, watch out, they may be dialing it in.

“I’m personally thinking 30 to 40 pounds-plus a day is needed,” he says. There’s another hint.

“There’s a bunch of good sticks out here, and a lot of’em at this event. You have to bring your A game. We fished this lake once and it’s fishing different, with different locations. I think it’s just going to be stumbling upon’em and getting them to go. That’s all it’s going to take,” Lynch says.

Everyone’s being cagey. Which means everyone is looking for that “edge.” And, someone will have it. Eighty pounds for two days? Last week’s championship winner pulled 60 out of Lake Petenwell. And it’s not a stretch at all to think that Mille Lacs, where, as Tim Potoczny says, walleye come easier to catch than bluegills—well, maybe, Tim—could produce that and more. And, come Sunday, AIM will do it all again. We’ll give you a preview of that event later this week.

Here’s the Mille Lacs QFTB schedule: Team registration and rules meetings will be online starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Teams meet at the launch site, Mac’s Twin Bay starting at 5:30 a.m. both Thursday and Friday. Teams will launch from Mac’s starting at 7 a.m., and must be back starting at 3 p.m.

Awards will take place at McQuoid’s both days starting at 5 p.m. Good luck, all 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