Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


AWWS Rivers Division Launches Sunday As

AIM 10th Anniversary Season Firsts Continue


We told you, Fan Nation, that the 10th anniversary edition of the 2023 AIM Weekend Walleye Series would be a season of firsts. Well, here we go with another one, as the inaugural Rivers Division Qualifier launches on the swollen Mississippi River at the tiny community of Genoa, Wisconsin, Sunday April 16.

“All you certified River Rats who are proud of that nickname because you love battling the currents, the swirling water around those wing dams, and ‘locking through’ to the next pool, this one’s for you,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “Teams will be seeing the first high water of spring, and from what we’ve heard, the river’s in great shape, meaning rising water, lots of debris, and lots of big spawners to go after. It’s a perfect challenge for them. They’ll have the choice of Pools 8, 9 and 10.”

That conditions prediction is also the word from two seasoned river rat teams who’ll be on the water Sunday. Clayton Freiburger from downstream in Dubuque, Iowa, and his father Robert, from La Motte, will be firing up their 250 Yamaha SHO with 30-plus years of experience going after the Mississippi’s walleye.

Clayton learned from Robert, and both are ready for all the water that is expected to come down the pipe. And if you’ve ever seen the Mississippi roar through to the next pool in spring, it’s definitely an eye-opener, and an exciting ride. It takes more than a little skill to handle it, and it sounds like the river is expected to rise at least two feet between now and Sunday.

“It’ll be a lot of water, especially including all the backwater areas we fish. Teams can really spread out,” Clayton said.

“Right now, it’s rising fairly slowly but by Friday it’s supposed to jump two feet and that’s quite a bit. The fish aren’t going to move necessarily,” Clayton said. “They’ve got to spawn, so if anything it might push’em up a little shallower. The rule of thumb is, if the water’s dropping, they move deeper, and if it comes up they move shallower.

Clayton’s betting that one of the main river rigs will definitely come into play to make the big girls come out, the three-way rig, with the amount of weight adjusted for the current.

“Jigging plastics is probably the most popular. Then there’s pulling stick baits in tandem on a three-way rig. It’s similar to hand-lining but with a rod,” he said. One end of the three-way swivel to the line, the other to the baits, and the third to a sinker. Overall, he’s predicting a good time and good fishing.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good bite. On the river someone always finds’em, and my guess is it will take 25 to 30 to win. A lot depends on water clarity. Usually when the water’s dirty, we increase the size of the baits. The bigger the better. I’ll sometimes even darken up the colors I use,” he said.

“There’s tons of wing dams here, but with the amount of water that’s coming down and the current, the dams for the most part will be out of play. I’ll be mostly focusing on tailwaters. We plan on pre-fishing all three pools, and general spawn areas where they are this time of year. We’re just going to have to figure out how to get’em to bite. They’ll be in either the current seams or real tight to the bottom.”

Harry Miller is a legend on the river, with 50-plus years’ experience figuring out where to find fish, and 30 years of tournament experience. He knows the river from Clinton, Iowa to Red Wing, Minnesota, in other words, virtually the entire Rivers Division span, so he’s definitely one to watch. Miller and partner Mason Jackson, both from Belleview Iowa, south of Dubuque, will be in a Mercury 200 Optimax-powered rig. He’s ready to deal with that two-foot rise.

“This is true competition conditions. It’s fair to all. It’s going to make the fish move around, but the sad part is it’s also going to put a lot of debris in the water, and that increases the danger,” he said. That clutter includes floating and partially submerged logs and other big hunks’o stuff rushing downstream towards New Orleans that teams will need to watch for. Add the grass that messes with lure action and the two lines you’re allowed, and you’ve got a lot to do to Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ your fish.

“You’ve also got tons of grass floating, which will affect your line and sometimes it turns into a nightmare” dealing with it.

“This is the first high water of the season and the walleye and sauger are in spawn mode so that really makes them move,” he said. He was on the water earlier this week, and probably won’t go back until Saturday, but he knows that water well after 50 years, and the fish.

“I’ve got about an 80 percent inkling of where they should be,” he said. “We’ll use a combination of pitching jigs and pulling Rapalas. “We’ll be drifting with jigs and trolling against the current. Now with this high water, you go from one-ounce weights to 4 or 5 ounces. That current doesn’t bother the fish at all. What they want to do, they’ll do it.

“I think the winner will have somewhere between 20 and 28 pounds in these conditions,” he added.

We’ll see who masters the river this time when teams get on the water Sunday. The online rules meeting starts at 7 p.m. Saturday. Boat inspection begins at 5:30 a.m. Sunday at the Genoa Dam Ramp, with boats released starting at 7 a.m. Teams must check in by 3 p.m.

Sunday’s awards program at Tuna’s bar in Genoa begins at 4 p.m. Good luck all teams!

To learn more about how you can enter in the next Rivers Division go-round, along with AIM’s three other divisions in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, go to the AIM website,, for details. Watch for the latest at AIM’s Facebook site.

You know you want to. You know you can.

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

AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats inc.

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, Outdoor Authority MN, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI.

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