Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.



Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


 High water? No Problem, Say ‘River Rats’ Competing In AWWS Minnesota Division Opener On ‘Fishissippi’

High water? What high water? Many of the 88 teams entered for Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Warrior Boat Center Minnesota Division opener are fishing home water. They’re primed for what the Mississippi will roll at them, and right now that’s plenty of current, pushing post-spawn walleyes to areas some who aren’t confirmed ‘river rats’ aren’t used to.

That’s the word from three anglers who call Pools 3 and 4 and Lake Pepin, near Hager City, WI, their own. They’re also back-to-back Team Of The Year winners. In other words, when they speak, you should listen.

Chad Bleeker, who with partner Carl Stayberg, won TOY honors last year, says yup, the water is up, possibly as much as three feet. And, he likes it.

“It always makes it a little difficult, but I like high water. It’s better when the water is high and stable,” Bleeker said. “When it’s on the climb it makes it more challenging. It’s best when it’s going down, but I like a tough bite. It puts a little more spin into it, and takes a lot of the luck out of it. Although I’d much rather be a lucky fisherman than a good fisherman.”

Bleeker, who’s been doing some spring training, fishing local tournaments in his Forever Barnwood-wrapped (a new business project) Ranger 620, said it’s a matter of adjusting to conditions and finding those spots where fish are holding, and hoping they’re also there the next day, and especially on Sunday. Because the fish are on the move.

“They just got done spawning and they’re slipping downriver, and they’re here today and gone tomorrow” in a typical spring pattern, he said. “They’re falling into the lake (Lake Pepin), fast. Everybody will know what that means.”

But, big fish are there, and Bleeker predicts that if you boat upwards of 30 pounds, you’ll be cashing a check Sunday.

“When you get on fish, they’re cooperative, they’re ready to eat. The guys who are going to troll will do better for numbers, targeting the males and smaller fish,” he said. But, the big money fish females will probably fall to the teams who choose to pull bait, Bleeker guessed.

His partner agrees. “The flow right now is pretty intense and the word is that it’s still coming up and wont crest until sometime Saturday,” said Carl Stayberg, who’s fished with Bleeker since 2005. The river current will be steady. Teams will be looking for those seams and eddies, where live bait and plastic Ringworms will entice those females, he said.

Teams also will have to contend with whether the lock between pools will be open so they can cruise right through, or will be closed, meaning potential delays and disqualifications. Right now, it looks like it will be open.

Going into the opener as defending champs, the pressure’s on to perform, Stayberg said. “This is our home water. We’re familiar with the river, and we like it. We’re river rats and we hope to do well.”

They and the other teams have to contend with other rats, including the previous Team Of The Year winner, Ross Grothe, and his son Reid, now 10.

“He’s all fired up,” Ross said of Reid. Despite the rising water, water temps also are rising, and they will be also seeking post-spawn fish. “We’re supposed to have some nice temperatures so with the spawn done, those fish will start to feed. It’s not going to be normal fishing, so we’re going to have to look outside the box. There’s a ton more water to fish when levels are up by three or four feet.”

“They’ll be in the backwater areas and off the high current. It’s a matter of finding the bait, and the fish will be there. We’ll keep grinding away until we find the right pod wanting to eat. We’ve also got the opening of walleye fishing in Wisconsin this weekend so we should have a lot less boat traffic on the river,” he said.

Grothe predicts that trolling also will be a factor, allowing teams to cover as much water as possible, along with pulling minnows, crawlers or leeches, and rigging.

But Sunday afternoon will tell the tale of what presentation is best. Other teams across AIM Nation will also have more than a passing interest in what happens Sunday, as the same spot will host the AWWS Warrior Boats National Championship, June 2-3.

Here’s the rundown for this weekend’s opener: All teams will meet starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, for registration and rules, at the Bluffs Bar and Grill in Hager City, WI. Launch is at 7 a.m. Sunday from Evert’s Resort in Hager City. Find out what presentation won starting at 5 p.m., at the Bluffs Bar and Grill.

Tune in to AIM’s Facebook page for updates throughout the day, and check out who’s doing what on the water through ProChattrr.

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, LLC.

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Navionics, Garmin, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, National Fleet Graphics, Gemini Sport Marketing, Warrior Boat Center.

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