Will The Minnesota State Championship At Lake Of The Woods Break The AIM ‘Pound Barrier’ Again?
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 27, 2020
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Will The Minnesota State Championship At
Lake Of The Woods Break The AIM ‘Pound Barrier’ Again?
If there is one lake, one, in Minnesota, on which anglers competing in this weekend’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Mercury Marine Minnesota State Championship will break that 100-pound barrier again for a two-day event, Lake of the Woods is the one, say some teams competing this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29 from Baudette, on what many consider the best inland walleye lake in the world.
“If there’s one lake that can hit the century mark in Minnesota, this one is it, that’s a sure bet,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “Teams are already talking about winning this one taking at least 80, or 90, and even more than 100 pounds of swimming gold to take this one, and from pre-fishing results, that is a real, yes way, possibility. All of the teams below have been on the water a while already, and most are seeing big fish.”
Fox also took time to thank the event sponsors, Wigwam Resort, and especially, Lake of the Woods Tourism and its director, Joe Henry. “They’ve pulled out the stops to make our teams feel at home especially in these times, and it’s a much-appreciated welcome handshake of support that AIM receives every time we put down our anchor here.”
Now, let’s preview what might happen here during two days of fishing by some of the best anglers in the state. Captain Eric Wick of Stillwater is partnering with Jeff Bohnen of Andover. Wick was reached on the water in his Mercury 300 ProXS-powered craft, and he’s reporting some B-I-G fish already. Wick admits he’s only been on the lake (LOW) one other time.
“I’ve been fishing for only a couple of hours and already got one close to 30 inches on a crank bait,” Wick said. Of course, he didn’t reveal what color, size or type crank. That might come Sunday or Monday.
“There’s also a big algae bloom. I’ve been marking fish and using spinners and jigs, but unless something happens with this algae (more on that below), I think it’ll be a bite on the north side of the lake.
“This is naturally a very dark water lake, so color choice can mean everything. But my wake off the back was flipping over green. That can definitely change the bite, and I’ve heard fish aren’t active in areas with algae. This is the greatest walleye lake in the world but that algae takes a lot of the lake out of play.”
Wick also thinks that lots of presentations will be used, but he’s betting on cranks.
I’m going over fish left and right and you can probably get more on spinners, but they’re not the ones I want,” he said.
Capt. Evan Rosemore of Roseau has been fishing LOW for years, since he lives just 20 minutes away. He’ll be teaming with his father, Steven, from Cloquet, in one of their two Mercury-powered, and Garmin LiveScope-mounted boats for the fourth season fishing AIM. Steven’s been pre-fishing the lake for a week.
“It’s been lights out for big fish here. Someone’s going to get up at 50 pounds each day, and it’s probably going to take 100 pounds to win,” Evan said. “Two years ago when we were here it was as good as I’ve ever seen Lake of the Woods. Guys I know were talking about catching five or 10 fish over 28 inches. Last year, guys were talking 20 fish over 28 for the season. This year, I’ve got someone I exchange information with, and he’s caught 38 walleyes over 28 in July alone. The big fish are there.”
However how they’re setting up so far is different than past summers. “You’re not getting as many bites. It seems like we’re catching maybe two or three big fish a day,” he added.
And, he’s not too concerned with the algae bloom. “If the bloom is pretty strong this time of year it gets pushed around day to day with the wind. I don’t know if that has a lot of impact on the bite. You can catch fish in a bloom and you can catch fish out of it,” he said.
What’s going to work this late in the summer? He says everything’s in play, and even hinted at using downriggers.
“I normally would have told you it’d be crank baits hands down but there’s a cold front moving in and the water has cooled down, and this tournament is later in the season then we’ve ever had here. You can jig if you’re a really keen jig fisherman. You might be able to get something going. Based on history, most will be trolling, and a few will be running crawler harnesses. We did pick up a walleye just shy of 30 inches, so I wouldn’t rule that out either,” he said.
Regardless, he’s predicting a great event. “Everyone’s going to have a blast. There’s going to be quite a few who will catch the biggest walleyes of their lives. This lake is shaping up to be soon on par with Lake Winnipeg or Erie,” he added. “We’re picking away at a few big fish each day and hopefully we can find one of those pods out in the mud that will give us five big ones two days in a row,” that will help them finish in the top five, and reach their goal: qualify for the AIM National Championship Shootout.
Captain Brad Johnson from Hanover, and partner Scott Hausauer from Appleton, WI, will be in a Warrior V2121, with a Mercury 350 Verado in attendance at the stern. He guides on the lake, and he’s thinking 80 to 90 pounds in two days will get it done.
“The big fish are here. It’s a matter of finding them. If someone gets 40 or 45 a day he’ll be right there, out in the mud in 30 to 33 feet of water, which is no big secret up here,” Johnson said.
“I think it will be predominately pulling crank baits. There are still some who are live bait rigging, but in a tournament like this you have to cover water to find-em, and the best way to do that is to troll.
“I’ve been having really good luck with jigging when I’m guiding but I won’t have the patience to wait the big fish out in a tournament. There are so many small ones we’re catching. I’ve had my best luck this past week trolling big crank baits. We’ve put a lot of big fish into the boat. It’s not really fast and furious but you pick up one here and there and cover a lot of water.”
That north part of the lake may be the spot, he said. “The farther north you go you’ll find more structure. If you can find the big balls of bait, you’ll find the bigger fish around.”
Capt. Bjorn Horgen of Ham Lake is partnering with Adam Braatz of South Haven, MN, and they’ll be in another Garmin-equipped, 400 Verado-powered rig. He’s been on the lake a handful of tournaments, and is ready for this one as well.
“You stumble across some bigger ones usually, but a lot are mixed in with others, so it means sorting through them. I haven’t seen any over 30 inches in the last few days (he’s been on the water since Saturday, Aug. 23) but people are catching them,” Horgen said.
“It’s typically a trolling bite with a lot trolling lead core. I’m guessing it’s going to take 90 pounds to win. After seeing the Warrior tournament here 10 days ago (The David A. Anderson Memorial Walleye Shootout), if you didn’t have 40 pounds, you didn’t make the top 17.
“The fish have spread out more than what they were then, but you can catch them just about anywhere and just about anywhere you can fish. They’re just following bait schools so expect lots of driving and lots of miles. Miles of trolling is what a lot are going to do and hope for the big bite,” he added.
“I haven’t found any together but I’m sure someone has. Cranks and spinners both have produced a good amount of fish.”
So there it is. This is it. The last AIM state championship in a great season despite, or rather because of, the challenges all teams and you, too, Fan Nation, have faced all year.
Stay with AIM on-water action starting this Friday. And you can bet that not one of the teams entered are forgetting that the AIM Minnesota Yamaha Motor Corp. Team Of The Year honors and that 9.9 Yamaha kicker also will be at stake. Watch for day-of updates both days, posted at AIM’s Facebook page. Good luck to all teams!
Details on all AIM tournaments are at the AIM website, and the Facebook page, where announcements on the 2021 season there, including the location of the AIM National Championship Shootout, will be posted. See you there!
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