Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)

It Took A Record 91-plus To Win, But Familiar Names Wolden and Leininger Take Minnesota AIM Championship

Tyler Wolden and Nate Leininger of Miltona, Minnesota. Familiar names both, to all who follow the AIM Weekend Walleye Series. Especially the Minnesota division. After this weekend, they should be even more familiar, winning the Yamaha Motor Corp. Minnesota Championship with a mind-blowing 91.25 pounds on Lake of the Woods, an AWWS record for a two-day event.

“All I could say was wow, these two had this lake dialed in,” said AIM National Tournament Director Denny Fox. “Both they and the second-place team were fishing roughly the same spots, with one exception. In fact, the top five had it nailed, totaling just shy of 438 pounds of gravel lizards, in only two days. And the best part is, they’re still in the lake for you to catch again, thanks to AIM’s unique Catch-Record-Release™ format.”

That exception may have been the reason for that 2.6-pound difference to bring Wolden and Leininger first-place and the accompanying $9,000 and a 2019 national championship Shootout berth.

And in what has to be one of the more memorable understatements in an AIM tournament that saw record weights, Wolden said, “We did find some colors that worked better.” But, he added, they had to go through multiples, a minimum of 10 styles throughout the days. And, they managed to finish second in Minnesota Team Of The Year standings, behind the winners by about .75 Points. We’ll have more on that in a separate article.

Wolden said that while he didn’t want to go into too much detail, they brought it home hauling cranks on lead core, using multiple colors to see what the fish preferred both days, in the same locations, on the lake’s north side. Those choices were also being affected by the smoky haze from the nation’s numerous wildfires, he said.

“With the fires going on, the mornings were hazy, and until the sun came up higher, we’d be changing colors as it got brighter throughout the day,” he said.

Here’s that winning difference: instead of sticking with their morning program of starting on an area with gravel/rock transitioning to mud all day, in the afternoon, they headed to the mud in the middle of the lake’s north end to pad their card and pickup some truly monstrous ‘eyes to win.

“We started on a gravel and rock transition but as the day went on we also had a school in the middle of the area in mud that would turn on for us in the afternoon. So about 11 a.m. each day we went to our mud fish and were able to upgrade.”

Rather than fish that turned on for a bit and then went to sleep, Wolden said that action was steady all day, both days.

“The bigger fish were in packs so you had to weed through a lot of smaller ones to find them, and just working really hard each day to find them. Our biggest on Day One was a 29-1/4 and on Day Two our first fish was a 30-3/4-inch walleye. Those were our two bigs. We had a couple of 28s and multiple 27-inch fish. We certainly put’em to bed Friday and Saturday.”

Wolden also laid their success square at the feet of their teammates in two other boats, including the team of Randy Topper, of Cohassett, MN, and Chuck Hassee, of Walker, MN, who took fifth, earning $1,700 for 85.20 pounds.

“It was critical to our success. I like to say hungry wolves hunt harder, so that teamwork is what did it. We set ourselves up to win and we knew we had to get into that 40-pounds a day area. The day prior to the tournament we had just about 50 pounds, so we knew we had to put 45-plus on our card, but you just never know” if it would happen. It sure did.

In second place, with 88.65 pounds, good for a $5,000 payday, were Dave Longtine, West Fargo, ND, and Kyle Anderson, Moorhead, MN. They got it done in a Warrior 2090 Tiller.

They also headed for the lake’s northeast end both days, after having fished the David A Andersen Memorial  Warrior Boats Shootout the weekend before.

“To be honest, we were throwing the kitchen sink at them, Bandits, Number 9 Shad Raps, No. 7 jointed Raps, deep diving Husky Jerks,” he said, you name it, switching up on nearly every pass, working roughly the same spot as the winners, at least in the mornings, but, they chose to stick with it, while Wolden/Leininger played in the mud in the afternoon.

‘We only pre-fished the AIM event one day and had some fish dialed in the mud transition to rocks. They were preying on crayfish so we ran crayfish colors and leadcore, keying in on the hard- to soft-bottom transition. We just love it on that lake, it’s one of our favorites,” Longtine said.

“The morning was definitely better for us and it seemed kind of spotty in the afternoon, but we knew they were there and we could see them on our graphs. Their big fish? A giant 30-3/4-incher on Friday, and a 29-1/4 Saturday.

“There are monsters in there. I live about 4-1/2 hours from there and wish I was a lot closer,” he said.

Since he’s qualified for next year’s Championship Shootout, he’s announcing he’ll be a force to be reckoned with on the Missouri River at Bismarck-Mandan. “I live in the west part of North Dakota and get out there a lot in late April and May, so it should be good, definitely fun.”

The event host was the Wigwam Resort, thanks for the tent and the hospitality. Call them now to book your next vacation.

Look at these weights for the rest of the top five field: In third place, winning $3,000, with a total of 86.52 pounds, Duane Kriese Sr., Shakopee, MN, and Kevin Klimmek, Jordan, MN. In fourth, the ever-dangerous Ross Grothe, and Roger Grothe, Northfield, MN, who boated 86.29 pounds, good for $2,000.

Next up, AIM heads west for the final event of the season, the Mercury Marine North Dakota State Championship, this weekend on Lake Sakakawea. We’ll have it all at AIM’s Facebook site, with on-water updates both days, topped by the countdown to the winner, and after that, Team Of The Year. For info on all AIM events, go to

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, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Gemini Sport Marketing, Treeland Resort, Anglers Avenue, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau

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