Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Here We Go Part 3: AIM National Championship Shootout; Say Hey North Dakota, Here Is The Rest Of Your Team


It’s coming. All the preparation. All the planning for all of 2022 that got them here. And for 30 teams, this is the result. A spot in the “Rumble On The Rock,” the AIM Weekend Walleye Series National Championship in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong. And, it’s finally here, just two days from splash.

Somebody will go home with that fully rigged $100,000 Warrior boat, with a Yamaha 200 SHO motor, Garmin SV93 electronics, Garmin Force bow electric, eight Rosemore rods in the locker, and now from AIM’s new official marine battery, Odyssey Battery, Four Extreme AGM batteries to power it all, on Saturday, June 3.

“This is it, Fan Nation, the one for all the marbles,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “We’re so excited to bring this package and wave goodbye to it as the winner takes it away in just two days and a wakeup after the Rumble On The Rock, the Ruckus On The River, the Klash at Lake Kosh.

“You’d better get ready because this is gonna be fun. We’ll present that boat, as well as a slew of other prizes for other top places, so watch live on Saturday evening as the winner is announced in my own special way of ramping up the excitement, with the ‘Warrior Boats hot seat.’

“I can’t wait. But first, let’s hear from the last, but not least. The rest of the pack from North Dakota. Some great sticks are on the water right now, pre-fishing from all the states, and we spoke to them before they got on the water. Over and over, these teams, including the new faces here, join AIM because of our trademarked and ground-breaking Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ format that has been copied by many others.

“We started it, and it’s why so many in the region fish AIM, including a growing number from North Dakota.  So here they are, NoDak Fan Nation, the remaining members of your state’s teams.”

Leading off for the rest the North Dakota contingent are Scott Swain of Minot, teamed with Jesse Schiele of Norwich.

They’ll be in a Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat. They were at the 2020 version, and he likes the idea of picking a unique, out-of-the-way water body for this and future AIM Shootouts.

“I agree with that. It makes the fishing a little more competitive. I don’t care if he (Denny Fox) puts it in a swimming pool. If it was easy, everybody could do it,” said Swain. And, he said, playing for a $100K package is definitely a bonus. In doing research on the system, he agrees that there are some quality fish to be had.

“We’re comfortable fishing the Missouri system and Devils Lake, and we’ve spent a lot of time east of Bismarck in what’s known as the puddle region. We’re hoping that what we know will aid us and hopefully do well,” Swain said.

“It’s higher stakes. There will be some water moving, and some post-spawners coming down, and the lake’s only six feet deep (actually about seven), and you’ve got 100,000 people around it, pontoons, Jet Skis,” and more who churned it up over the holiday.

“That river’s going to hold a lot of fish. I know they’re getting some fish at the river mouth (entering the lake), and that’s the deepest part. I know how to fish those. It might be a little different with how it’s set up compared with rivers back home,” Swain added.

“The river is pretty much a mud flat, and with structure here and there. You’ve got to find any offset in the river or vegetation, anything that will hold fish and bait fish.

“They also might be out in the mud flats, but with all those boats…your motor’s in the water three feet, so a lot may get pushed up shallow. It’s a big lake, but I’ve seen pictures. There’s a million people within 100 miles of the lake. There’s also no wake in that river, and it’s 21 miles to the dam (Jefferson Dam). It’s a long way to idle but if you want to stop, work jigs, flies and hair jigs,” he said.

This is Swain’s seventh season on the AIM circuit.

“It’s a good program for the fish. Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ is the best part of it. I don’t know why we can’t fill the tournaments in North Dakota. But it can be two boats in a tournament, and you can still win. I’m all about consistency and qualifying.”

The “two Codys” are here, too. Cody Cerkony of Belfield, and Cody Dukart of Dunn Center, were in Miltona last year and finished 11th. They’ll be running 300 Yamaha power, and as you can imagine, are happy they’re back this year, too.

“You take a lot of pride in it that’s for sure to represent our state to come here and do our best against the other teams. It’s real humbling and a proudful experience,” Cerkoney said. They’ve been fishing AIM for the last six or so years.

“I love the Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ and watching the big fish go back. The group we fish with, it’s really kinda like family. They’re very respectful anglers. The camaraderie is bar none. It’s hard to find that in other tournament series, especially kill tournaments,” he added. This is a true adventure for both.

“This is my first time being in Wisconsin. I’ve done a lot of research but I’m not real familiar with a shallow water body. I like the river aspect of it. We just came off of our two (AIM) qualifiers on Lake Audubon and took a third in one, so we feel like we’ve got good momentum. We pulled a lot of cranks so we’re hoping to find some hand-to-hand combat with a jig rod in my hand, but we’re set up to do anything we have to.”

The fact that the tournament is immediately after Memorial Day is figuring to be a factor in where the fish might be.

“We were going to check stuff out in the river and then start focusing on the lake to see what’s going on. The Missouri is not consistently that shallow, so it’s a whole new experience fishing a lake where you can darned near walk across it. It’s not like Miltona (Lake Miltona, site of the 2022 Shootout) where the water was so super clear you had to sneak up on your fish. That’s kind of a plus.”

Tanner Ouellette from Mandan is in the game with Kade Lynch of nearby Bismarck, and alternate Brett Blees, in a Mercury 300 Verado-powered  boat, and it will be the third championship at least for Lynch in the last four years.

“Honestly, from what we know of the lake, it’s going to be an interesting one. The flowage has lower visibility than what we’re used to, but the seven-foot max depth is the interesting variable,” Lynch said. But, on the other hand, they’re used to fishing skinny water.

“We grew up fishing the small water bodies east of Bismarck. We’ll use our smaller body of water wisdom here. I will say Tanner and I and Brett are comfortable reading” that water.

“Whether it hurts or helps, we love to cast. There’s a high chance you’ll not see us trolling any lures this week,” he said. “We like to cast anything that walleyes bite, and with Tom Huynh being in here (yup, that guy from Minnie-so-tah pronounced “Win,” because he does), you can’t rule out anything from walleye to bass to offshore fishing techniques,” Lynch said, and we got the distinctly strong feeling he wasn’t kidding about even going “salt water” on the other teams.

And, like the others, they’re sold on AIM, and wonder why other NoDak teams don’t hop aboard.

“We three collectively agree this is the best format in fishing. We love the way the format also protects the fishery. All these fish, instead of being killed on scales, we release them almost from a minute to a minute-and-a-half of them being caught,” Lynch said.

Shawn Hennings from Hillsboro and Ben Blegen of Milaca are running a Merc 300 Verado, with Garmin among the mix, and they’re pumped.

“It made my whole year last year” to get this chance, Hennings said. “It’s been a longtime goal.” But, the shallows also will be challenging.

“We have to adapt a little. We’ve done some rigging and have new setups for different applications that we’ve researched, and now we have to put it into practice and see if we were right. It’s going to be a technical challenge with 30 boats if it comes down to one way of fishing. If everyone has to pull 100 or 200-foot spreads in seven feet, that’s a whole lot of width, but I’m looking forward to it.”

“I love the format. I love Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ. You don’t have to worry about killing fish. You don’t have to worry about picking with five or six to keep in the boat. You go out and fish and at the end of the day, you pick your best on the card. It’s good for the environment and for local people who don’t like tournaments coming in, it makes us look a lot better,” Hennings added.

You’ll see Jeremy Wentz from Washburn and Don Radke from Williston in a Merc 250 Verado-powered and Garmin-equipped boat.

“It’s exciting and we’re grateful that we qualified for it. We’re excited to show up and take advantage of four days of fishing to see what we can do on game day,” Wentz said.

“We’re going to find a few spots and figure out how they react and what bait and presentation works and eliminate as much water as we can, and hopefully have a handful of spots come Day One. It’ll be a challenge. The only time we fish that shallow is the spring bite,” he added.

“Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ is one of the big reasons I fish AIM, and it’s just a good group of guys. All the teams we met were fun to visit with and in our home state, everyone’s in it to have fun and be competitive. We’re trying our best to get our enrollment up in North Dakota, and we had a lot of new faces on Audubon, which was good to see,” he added.

Two of those new faces are South Fargo’s Justin Sakenreuter, partnered with Cole Bieber of West Fargo, in a 360-Yamaha powered boat, loaded with Garmin screens. This is their first championship.

“We actually joined AIM last year with the goal of making the championship, and here we are,” Sakenreuter said. “Being in it the first season, it’s 30 of the best anglers from around the Midwest, and we’ll give’er everything we’ve got. I think we’ll give the river a little shot and see where it goes.

“I joined because I like the format. I actually grew up fishing Devils Lake and it’s a good way to learn other bodies of water and break them down. It’s one of the other reasons we do it,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the experience and getting to know some of the anglers and fish for a new boat.”

Okay, everybody ready?  You’d better be, because 48 hours from now, 60 team members in 30 boats will be shoving those jitters, those doubts and those fears aside to start that first day starting Friday, first day of competition thanks to local site sponsors Island Bar and Grill and Bait Box On the Rock.

Just 30 boats. Going for it all and living the same dream that many of you out there want to. Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook site throughout the week for updates and tune in to each gathering that determines the leader Friday, and Saturday, the winner, on Saturday evening. Learn how you can register for the next events at

You really know you want to. You really 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.

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