Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2020
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Despite Wind, Mille Lacs Gives It Up For
DeCamp, Schneider Sunday, With A $9,000 Payday
Despite winds and building four-footers on Lake Mille Lacs, jigging with B-I-G shiners in as little as four feet of water netted a 40.58-pound bag and a $9,000 check, plus a little more, for Kirk DeCamp and Paul Schneider, in the season’s first AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Warrior Boats/The Boat Center Open Minnesota qualifier Sunday, June 14.
“Predictions were that the winner would have to bring home at least 40 pounds, and DeCamp and Schneider bested that by about a half-pound, in spite of the wind that created some mighty sporty conditions for our 101-boat field,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “And not only did they take first, but they also took first in our new side pot that was good for another $1,650, meaning their total take was more than 10 Large, in addition to those valuable points for AIM Minnesota Team of The Year. Less than five pounds separated first from 15th place. A heck of a finish.”
DeCamp, of Rockford, MN, and Schneider, of Rush City, tamed 25mph winds gusting to an estimated 40 by throwing out an old-fashioned anchor after the trolling motor batteries died on their 200 Mercury Verado-powered boat. The wind made it difficult to hold on their spot, but it also made the fish “a little less paranoid, so we could find them closer to the boat,” DeCamp said.
“Pre-fishing, we had had luck on shallow rocks and around big boulders. I was trying to find similar locations that had the same pattern,” DeCamp said. “I only found one other, but it wasn’t quite as good as the original,” a spot on the lake’s south end, three to five miles from the launch at Mac’s Twin Bay.
And therein lies an interesting sidebar.
“We were going to take Paul’s boat, because his batteries were brand new. We got launched and were going to relax waiting, when his tiller boat motor went into alarm,” DeCamp said.
They jumped into scramble mode, which may actually have helped them in the end. “We had to run back, load up, get mine, head to the gas station and then launch, all in hopes to be back in time to make it for take-off.”
“When our day starts that way, we had to screw our heads back on straight. How that went down definitely must have helped us be somewhat calmer,” he continued. That feat accomplished, the newly calmed team cleared their jitters and headed out.
“The morning bite was definitely best, until about 9 or 9:30, and after we knew there was going to be a dead time. We went between to different colors of jigs, ¼-ounce, chartreuse, and once in a while we’d mix in a yellow,” he said, all tipped with spot tail shiners, the big, tempting, five-inch variety that would make any self-respecting walleye a bit twitchy. That’s what did it.
“It wasn’t all that scientific. Just your basic shallow rocks and waiting for them to move in and out. Our biggest was a 28-1/4, which we got around 8:30. We had four 26s, one 25 and then got the 28-1/4, which took the 25-incher off the card,” he said. “When the next bite rolled through, I got a 27 and change which helped out.” For the day, they boated around 20 fish. They threw back 24s and 25s, fish that on other lakes would have won. “There’s days when I’d say we need a 25, but when it works out it’s a good day when you can let those go,” De Camp added.
“I was hoping to break 40 pounds, that was my goal. To hit 40 once. And our guess was with being 40 with the wind, we were thinking we’d be in the top 10 because all the anglers in AIM are top-notch. That’s where our gut feeling was.”
When “the call” from Denny Fox about who won, who were they sitting with but the second-place team of Bob Nitti of Rosemount, MN, and Bryan Dunanski of Esko, who landed 40.10 pounds, and $3,500, along with second place share of the side pot of an extra $990.
“The crazy part is my parents own the resort and we were having dinner when Denny’s call came in,” Nitti recalled. “That gets a little nerve-wracking because he’s either going to tell you you did good, or had a bad photo, or …” let’s just say, worse. They did good. It was his second AIM event on Mille Lacs. He won the first.
“We were fishing a 10-foot flat of shallower water that we were pitching and trolling jigs (that’s dead-sticking, moving “real slow”) over on the south side of the lake,” he said. “The fish were kinda moseying around. They’d come up on the flat and we’d see them with our side scan, and we’d get one here and there and they’d then slowly vanish, then come back up” as they too battled the waves, consistent four-footers furrowed up by a 30-mph wind.
“We probably caught 30 fish. Our biggest was a 28 and it came around 8:30. We had a 26, a 27 and the 28 fairly quick and we actually lost two right in that same size range early on,” he added, and had they counted those they may have put them first.
They stayed there all day, about 10 miles from the start, and not looking forward to what turned out to be a rough ride back. One of about 101 rough rides. “I’m still plenty sore now. I’m glad I don’t have to get in the boat for a few days,” he said.
“I’m glad however that if we hadn’t taken it, I’m sure glad our buddies did,” Nitti sad. “When you get that big of a field, it’s nice to finish well.”
Others finishing well were the team of Max Wilson, of Campbellsport, WI, and Travis Billmeyer, Faribault, MN, in third place with 38.93 pounds, and $2,800 to the good, plus a $660 side pot bonus. In fourth by a mere 100th of a pound were Erik Walker and Brent Knutson, of Princeton, MN, with 38.92 pounds, good for $1,500. Fifth place and only .03 of a pound behind them were Randy Topper of Cohasset, MN, and Chuck Hasse, Walker, with 38.89 pounds, earning them $1,400.
Now, AIM has something completely different coming up this weekend: the inaugural Quest For The Best, with Pools 3, 4 and 5 open on the upper Mississippi River this Friday and Saturday, June 19 and 20, sponsored by Quality Flow Systems of Minnesota and North Dakota. At stake will be not only bragging rights, but a cool $30,000 for the winner in a 100-boat field. Not to mention $12,000 for second, $10,000 for third. Stay tuned for a preview of that event, the largest cash pot ever in an AIM Weekend Walleye Series tournament. On-water action from days will be at AIM’s Facebook page. Details on that event and other upcoming state qualifiers are at the AIM website. As we are still doing, please follow all COVID-19 government guidelines.
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.
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For more information about AIM™, AIM Pro Walleye Series™, AIM Weekend Walleye Series, AIM sponsors and AIM anglers, visit www.aimfishing.com.
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