Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.



Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)

Gilkey, Flemming, crush Big Stone trolling custom cranks, taking AIM Minnesota Warrior Boats Open tourney No. 2

Waconia, Minnesota angler Nate Gilkey nailed it when he said that the mid-lake trolling bite on Big Stone Lake might be the ticket to the first-place podium. He and partner Shawn Flemming from Monticello zeroed in on the spot to win $5,500 Sunday in the second AIM Warrior Boats Open Qualifier.

Both first and second place teams using tricked-out Berkley Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad Raps were there when the middle of Big Stone Lake turned on to net their fish and best the field.

‘We normally like to fish the northern half of the lake, and the last 12 or 13 miles is pretty much choked out with weeds,” Gilkey said. “So we opted to stay south to work it where we were in prior tournaments and had found spots producing during pre-fishing.”

He and Flemming split up during practice, each using their own boats to check on both bobber fishing the rocks, and mid-lake trolling. Gilkey headed to the mid-lake. “By 12:30 Saturday I had 9 or 10 fish, so I got out and left it alone.” Since Flemming had only one fish on Saturday, their plan of attack had set itself for them.

“We then went out Sunday in the first group. A lot of boats went right by us. So we focused on our key depth about 10 feet in the mud-bottom basin,” he continued.

Trolling No. 7 custom-painted Flicker Shads along with glass No. 5 Shad Raps, they began picking up fish. “We ran three of the same color baits, and the custom painted electric perch from Shawn’s company, Jolly Roger, and that perch color took the majority. We had two of the bigger ones on Flicker Shads but the majority were on Shad Raps,” he said. And by the majority, Gilkey meant they had at least 10 fish by 10:30 a.m.

“The first three were all doubles, including a 20-¾ and a 24-¾-incher on at the same time. The next pass we filled out with a 12-3/4-incher and then began upgrading,” he said.

An hour later, they figured they were sitting on about 20 pounds. Then other boats began moving in. “It grew to about 20 in the afternoon so we split from our trolling run north and a little east and fishing picked up there, with a 26-1/2 and then a 27-incher, which is what ended our day. That one came on a Flicker custom-painted a purple-chrome by Larson’s Quality Jigs. They went to the podium to claim first with 29.02 pounds.

They ran the lures about 150 feet back with Offshore Tackle planer boards on the outside, and between 90 and 100 back on the inside lines.

“We wanted our baits as far from the boat as possible. The lake is shallow and it’s also really clear and when it lays down you want those boards and baits as far from the boat as you can to keep from spooking the fish,” Gilkey said.

“We only changed bait colors twice the whole day. We just let everything ride because it was working, and at the end of the day we changed to that purple chrome and that’s what lit up the big fish,” Gilkey said.

Combined with a 12th place finish in Redwing in the first Minnesota division qualifier, the team is in great position for the series. They’re also qualified for the upcoming 2016 championship in Superior, Wisconsin, on June 3-4, based on their standing last year.

In second with 22.02 pounds and $2,000 were Brian Jerpbak of Owatonna, Minnesota, and Scott Whipps of Ham Lake, Minnesota.

“We were by the winning boat most of the day, at the south end of the main basin, trolling anywhere from 9 to 11 feet. They (Gilkey and Flemming) talked about keeping their boards away from the boat, but ours were tight to the boat with lures 90 to 120 feet back, and we caught 90 percent close to the boat,” Jerpbak said. He attributed the difference to using their quieter kicker motor, while the winners piloted a tiller. Once again, custom Shad Raps ruled.

“We got ours in flurries. We had a double, a 26-1/4 and a 20 in one pass and two hours later we had a 24, a 20 and a 17, and we’d go a couple more passes and wouldn’t get a thing. Every time I brought out a spinner to switch, we’d have a fish on guaranteed, and we’d put the spinners away again.”

This was the team’s third AIM tournament, and the first this year. “Now we’re going to fish the rest of them,” Jerpbak said.

Third place went to John Gildersleeve of Frazee, MN, and Brad Dirkman of Underwood, MN, with 21.71 pounds, good for $1,500. In fourth were Stacy Forsberg, Isle, MN, and Dan Webeck, Onamia, MN, 21.15 pounds and $1,300. Fifth place winners were Brian Sularz, Maple Grove, MN, and Brad Engebretson, with 20.17 pounds, good for $1,100. Learn more at and at the AIM Facebook page.

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.                      AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Navionics, Powrtran, Power-Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Team Lodge, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, National Fleet Graphics, Gemini Sport Marketing, 4 Bears Casino North Dakota.

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