Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 14, 2023
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Father-Son Team of David and Anders Lester Win
Rivers Division Showdown On The Mississippi At Clinton
Well, it happened again!
For the second time this week, a father-son team has won accolades at an AIM Weekend Walleye Series tournament, this time in the new Rivers Division and this time involving David Lester and son Anders at the Clinton Iowa qualifier Sunday, Sept. 10.
“Have we got any more potential father-son-or-daughter teams out there who want to get in on this? Because the way it’s going, that’s one of the keys to winning an AIM tournament, first at the North Dakota Championship with Ross Grothe and his son Roger winning that state’s Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Team Of The Year this past Saturday, and now with the Lester family, who boated 34.01 pounds and a $2,500 check on Sunday.
“You’ll be seeing them at our next qualifier in Dubuque in October too, meaning they’ll be right up there vying for Rivers Division Team Of The Year,” he added.
The Lesters, from Onalaska, WI, concentrated on Pool 13 by locking upstream of the launch point in Clinton in their Mercury 225 Pro XS-powered boat, casting lures at wing dams they’d scouted during pre-fishing. Their familiarity with the water helped, said David Lester. His son Anders is 16.
“I’ve been fishing down there (on the Mississippi) for about 10 years, so I’m fairly familiar, but I don’t know everything. We pre-fished four days, checking stuff we know,” he said, and some they didn’t.
“We were actually checking new stuff and found the fish the day before the tournament, on Saturday,” David said. They settled on where they’d go: lock through upstream to the pool above, and hope that they didn’t get caught and DQ waiting to get back through that lock.
“We were fishing two specific wing dams and we fished a total of four during the tournament. We were using ‘bass-style’ Rapala DT10s. The ones that did the best were custom-painted by Hawkeye Custom Tackle,” he said. They also threw Bink spoons, he added.
“We took off Sunday morning in 13th position and we locked up to Pool 13, ran aways to probably mid-pool and stopped at one wing dam and fished for 10 minutes,” he said. You know how it feels when things didn’t “feel” right about a spot? That’s how they felt at that dam.
“Something didn’t look the same as the day before current-wise. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be there anymore,” he said. After that short stay, they took off and went upstream another ¾-mile.
“It was our stop Number Two. We fished the outside of the wing dam about 20 minutes and didn’t get anything. We started fishing it on the way towards shore. We got to the end, and I spun the boat around, and Anders caught a 26-incher,” he said. They were on the way.
“We processed that fish (measure, photograph, then send it back in using AIM’s trademarked Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ system), and the very next cast, I caught a 25-incher,” he added. Then after another 45 minutes, they moved to another wing dam. That was where they filled their card.
“We had I believe a 23-3/4, a 21-3/4 and others we didn’t score, and we had a 27 on there too. They were all over that dam from the middle to the end, inside, everywhere. I was on my trolling motor going back and forth casting those baits and Bink spoons. That 27-inch fish, Anders caught like a 40-inch pike and netted it, and I watched that 27 hit my crankbait, and he had to net that fish with the pike still in the net. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
And at that point, David thought they might have a shot at landing a check, too.
“Those teams who fish down there, they’re just all really good, and we had some pros there too, so you just never know what would happen,” he said. But the fun wasn’t over.
“We were making our way back to the dock and we had one more dam we were going to fish. We stopped there and probably 10 minutes later, Anders caught the final fish on our card, a 26-incher, on a gold Bink spoon. That’s what did it for us. Throw it out, let them land, and you pop’em, and boy, when they want it, they hit it,” he added.
Team Lester was in 12th place after the last Rivers Division event at Hager City, they’re bound to move up, maybe way up, in Team Of The Year standings.
Finishing in second were Robert Lampman of De Soto, Wi, and Tom Beck of Genoa, with 31.14 pounds, winning them $1,500 and first place in side pot cash of $800. They were leading in Team Of The Year going into this one, and a second-place finish definitely helped keep them there in their Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat.
“We’re sitting good as long as we don’t falter too bad, but it’s looking good” for TOY, Lampman said. Sunday’s fishing, he added, was tough.
“I was hoping to break 20 pounds, to be honest. We stayed in the pool we launched on, 14. We had a good bite going early from pre-fishing, and then three days prior to the tournament, the bite went terrible on us,” Lampman said.
“We stayed away from spots we thought might work. We were limited to fish the Iowa side with willow cats,” he said, that he had nursed along through summer. Since the bait was not from Illinois, state law says they couldn’t bring them into Illinois. So they stuck to Iowa water fishing wing dams.
“On our first wing dam, we probably had 25 pounds in an hour and a half. We switched dams to upstream and the first two were around 26 inches. We tried upgrading a 22-incher and we couldn’t do it,” he said. Their count was, two around 26 inches, one around 25, a 23 and that 22-incher.
“It was a tough bite. Even when we hit the 15-pound mark, I thought we’d be in the top five with what the bite was,” he said. His experience on that stretch of river helped him keep the faith.
“That is where I won a 2005 championship. I’ve always liked that stretch and the bite was just as bad when I won it in 2005, so maybe a bad bite’s good for me,” he said. And, the bite at Dubuque could also be tough.
“Due to the fact we had such a long dry spell, the river is way down and I don’t see it changing before Dubuque.” he said.
Finishing in third with 21.87 pounds and earning $1,000, with second-place side pot winnings of $480, were Paul Hebbeln of Cordova, IL, and Chris Staebell of Eldridge, IA. Dwayne Smith Jr. of East Moline, IL and William Stiner of Moline, IL, finished fourth with 20.78, pounds winning $525, plus $320 in third place side pot cash. Fifth and $350 with 20.02 pounds went to Kyle Brantner and Joe Newcomb of Pepin, WI.
The final Rivers Division qualifier is Sunday, Oct. 1, in Dubuque, IA and we’ll preview that one in the week prior. The Rivers Division championship and Team Of The Year battle will take place Oct. 21-22 on the river at Prairie du Chien, WI.
You can still register for that last Rivers Division qualifier, so time to get in on the fun this fall. In early 2024, watch for the announcement naming the location of the 2024 AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout. Registration will also open early next year for the entire 2024 qualifier season. Learn how you can get in on the fun at aimfishing.com.
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 www.aimfishing.com.
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 fish house rentals, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI, Odyssey Battery.