Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Fishing The Trees Brings Locals Elshaug, Paine Win

Plus $3,500 At AIM Devils Lake AIM Qualifier


Fishing the trees was the key for both first and second-place teams on Devils Lake, with prairie lake locals Tyler Elshaug and Tanner Paine taking first on a combination of live bait and plastics to land 34.38 pounds and $3,500 Sunday (July 9) at the AWWS Warrior Boats/Mild2Wild Open.

Right behind them and only a pound-plus out were the second-place team of Ross Grothe and 13-year-old son Roger with 33.10 pounds, also bumping branches on the lake’s east side to take home $2,300 and more Yamaha Motor Corp. Team Of The Year points in the final the North Dakota qualifier of season.

“That means it’ll all be decided Sept. 8-9 on Sakakawea at the championship, and that coveted Team Of The Year title,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “It was their first major win, and the winners credited using their Garmin LiveScope to target and throw at fish in the trees, and so did team Grothe.”

“That’s the only way we caught the fish,” Elshaug said. Equipped with two brands of electronics, they relied on their Garmin.

“We were basically following them and casting at the bigger marks and moving on to the next one in flooded trees and rocks,” he added. “They were laying in the trees, and you could see them on the branches, and you’d throw your jig in front of them, a jig and plastic. Tanner was using the slip bobber. A lot came on the bobbers. The biggest one, a 28-3/4-incher, came on a paddletail. We were in the east end” of the lake, about 15 miles from the launch.


“We’re from Devils Lake and earlier in the year we were casting crankbaits and for this tournament we went into 15 to 20 feet, scanned and found they wanted leeches. We had three different stretches of shoreline and we hit’em all and did really good at two. When you find them in the trees, they don’t really move, it’s just, are they going to bite,” Elshaug said. “We knew bobbers would probably be what we’d use, but we tried Jigging Raps, blade baits” and the like.

They came in with the smallest fish on the card a 23-1/2-incher, and the biggest, a 28-1/4. Besides local lake tournaments, he said, the pair fishes every AIM event.

“I don’t think we’ve missed one AIM event since it started coming to Devils Lake,” he said. If AIM returns next season, you can bet they’ll be in the pack.

In second place and gunning for another berth at next year’s AIM National Championship Shootout (they finished third on the Rock River in June), are Ross and Roger Grothe of Baldwin.

It was not only a $2,300 check from AIM. They also boated $750 in Yamaha Power Pay, and extra cash from the Warrior cash program for doing it in a Warrior 208. Grothe said he also knew fish would be in the trees. So they tried something new, at least for them.

“I’ve fished Devils for many years and continually had gotten beat by the bobber fishermen who fish in the trees. I told Roger on the way out that we’re going to learn, so 90 percent of our efforts were where the fish are living,” Ross Grothe said. They also had a lot of help from LiveScope.

“To know what you’re seeing is fish in the trees, it built a lot of confidence. We tried a lot of areas with no success, some with some and some with great success. So we cast crankbaits into some areas and we caught some rally nice ones” on bobbers. They caught four 22-plus fish in the last spot they tried. Then Roger suggested using the wind, which was supposed to pick up on Sunday.

“He’s only 13 but he’s got great strategy. We went out and found the spot on the spot. We spot-locked our trolling motor and proceeded to sit there all day and bobber fish with leeches on the top of the trees,” he said. They lost a lot of rigs in that heavy timber, but it was worth it. He even lost a couple of depth checkers on limbs.

“We had a constant rotation of rods, tying new line and hooks on. Because we were getting snagged consistently, but that’s where the fish were living. They’d come through in packs and we had constant action. Sometimes we’d catch three in a matter of five minutes. We finally figured out how to fish the trees with bobbers and I give a lot of credit to being able to decipher what I see on the LiveScope,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this since 1994 and this was the first day that I spent solely bobber fishing. I was the person who didn’t have a lot of patience, but the fish were coming to us,” he said.

Now, time to gear up for the AIM North Dakota championship in early September, on some of his home water to see if they can clinch not only the state Yamaha Motor Corp Team Of The Year, but another shot at the Shootout in 2024.

“I’ll be able to fish from my house on a daily basis. We’ve had a wonderful year, so obviously we’ll swing for the fence on this last tournament. I’m enjoying the success, while it lasts.”

The rest of the top five finished like this: In third and winning $1,600 were Brandon Van Dusen of Minot, and Wyatt Wahl of Mandan, with 30.08 pounds. Fourth place was anchored by Brett Kenner and Nate Miller of Devils Lake, who came in with 28.27 pounds, and went home with $1,200. In fifth, and winners of $900 with 27.19 pounds, were Mason Martinson of Bismarck and Dylan Martell of Hazen.

North Dakota, a great season so far. While you’re gearing up for the Yamaha Motor Corp. USA North Dakota championship Sept.  8-9 on Lake Sakakawea at Beulah, we’re gearing up for this coming Sunday’s Wisconsin qualifier on Lake Winnebago, and in Minnesota for the final Minnesota State qualifier on Otter Tail Lake July 30. Then the next event in AIM’s Rivers Division on the Mississippi at Clinton, IA, is Sept. 10. We’ll have more to say with a preview of Winnebago later this week at AIM’s Facebook site.

Learn how you can register for those events, including the 2024 season, at

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 fish house rentals, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI, Odyssey battery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed