Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2022
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Ashtabula Awaits North Dakota Anglers As AIM
Visits Sunday; Is A 30# Bag In The Cards?
Lake Ashtabula is definitely an unknown for many North Dakota anglers in this Sunday’s (May 22) AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Kovash Marine Open state qualifier, but you could be looking at 30 pounds to win this, say teams who are gearing up to head to Sibley in the heart of prairie pothole country.
“It’s the first time for AIM to visit this lake, which is a sunken part of the Sheyenne River that empties into the notorious Red River here,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “The Native American Ashtabula translates to ‘fish river’ so you can bet on that. This lake, like our last stop, Wisconsin’s Lake Pete, fishes more like a river, and like a lot out here, there also are river mouths to pitch jigs in that may hold the key to a win, but to do it, you’ve got to handle that rising, roiled, snowmelt water that’s still present.”
Two long-time AIM competitors say it will at first at least, be a guessing game where they will set up.
Lonnie Jacobs of Douglas, north of walleye-rich Lake Sakakawea, where AIM will visit in June and August, will be towing his Mercury Verado-powered boat there, and partnering with Doyle Schwanke of Maddock, but he’s guessing not 30, but maybe 16 will take the win, judging by some recent tournaments there. He was reached mid-week.
“I drove there (about 190 miles one way) last Saturday and looked at it. We’ll pre-fish it Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They’re calling for cool weather (National Weather Service says lows in the 30s, high Sunday maybe mid-50s) and I don’t think there’ll be big weights.
“One recent tournament, it took a three-pound average to win, two to get second. Sixteen pounds in a two-day tournament got third,” he said.
Regardless, he’ll be headed to that warmer shallow water to pull cranks. “When we find fish, we’ll sit on’em and pitch jigs at’em. That’s our plan. We don’t know if it’ll work or not,” Jacobs said. “Reservoir walleye tend to be different a bit, but at the end of the day, a walleye is still a walleye.” That translates, in walleye lingo, to be, go where the food could be. As in, young fish or minnows, and that’s where you will find them.
“We’ll probably pitch jigs tipped with minnows. It’s going to be jigs and minnows and plastics. That’s what I think, but I’ve been wrong. The shallower we can go, the better the success. This year is extremely different because of the late spring, so you’re going to have to find shallower water that will warm up faster, and where you can find some water coming in. There’s where you’re going to find fish,” he added. “If we do good, I can say we had a good game plan,” he laughed.
Alan Lick of Sawyer will be there with partner Lucas Tangen of Casselton in a Merc 300 Pro XS- powered boat, and he’s also in the dark about what Ashtabula holds.
“I have never fished it. It’s been cool. We’ve had a few good warm days that helps, but there’s so much water that’s going through this system right now (spring melt) that it’ll be hard. The water’s dirty, and that might help warm up quickly but it’s going to be different. It’s not a big reservoir. I think jigging bait and plastics and overall live baiting is one of the top things out there.
“My partner fishes it a fair amount, and there’s be a lot of moving water so one of the keys will be to find some bottlenecks and take advantage of that current,” Lick added. “If you can find some water that’s not chocolate milk that might be a good transition zone. When you have rising water like this it tends to scatter fish. You get some that go super shallow and some super deep, so I think the potential of a 20 to 30-pound bag is there if they go. It’s going to be a lot of fun to fish. I don’t think boat traffic will be an issue,” Lick said. The fact that the docks are not in yet could be, however.
We’ll see what happens Sunday when the field departs and finds the fish that will win it all. Following the online team meeting Saturday at 8 p.m., teams will assemble, with the first flight off Sunday at 7 a.m., and second 15 minutes later. Boats start returning at 3 p.m. and the awards ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. Good luck all teams!
You know you want to. You know you can.
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