Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


It’s 1-2 For Wisconsin As $105,000 First Prize Goes To Father-Son Team of Randy And RJ Harwood     


It’s in the books, Fan Nation, and the largest AIM Weekend Walleye Series National Championship purse in history was awarded to Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Randy Harwood and son RJ Saturday (June 3), who squeezed out a first by less than ¾-of a pound in one of the closest finishes to an AIM championship ever, on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

The pair, who were in seventh place after Day One, proved that you could come from the pack to win if you believed in your program, and followed your instincts and what the fish were telling you.

“Like all the 30 teams here, they kept at it, changed to meet conditions, and used the little things that matter to bring home that custom-color 193 Warrior chock full-‘o goodies, starting with that 200 Yamaha SHO, the twin Echomap 93SV Garmin electronics, the Garmin Force bow troller, the Rosemore rods in the locker, and from the Official battery of AIM, Odyssey Extreme AGMs in there too. They did it with smarts, good choices helped out by darned hard work during pre-fishing, and a little luck,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director.

“To show you how close this horserace was, only one pound, that’s O-N-E, separated first place from fourth in this two-day tournament,’ Fox said. “They didn’t know they’d won until the last minute of the Warrior Boats Hot Seat on Saturday. Wisconsin teams finished first and second, with North Dakota third and fourth. We’re gonna play this story out a little so you get the gist of what these teams go through, and so you know you can do this too. Ok, it’s Showtime!”

How’d the winners feel the day after?

“Pretty burnt out. Just wore out,” Randy Harwood said. But a good kinda wore out since they have that new fishing system, anchored by that Warrior.

“We got there Memorial Day Monday and fished through Thursday. We were never out for a full eight hours because it was so hot, with no wind; flat calm,” Harwood said.

“We found fish in the Rock. We had two spots and found fish anytime we stopped, but the biggest was 20 inches. Towards the end of the week, we started trolling out in the lake and we were catching some decent fish. Our biggest was a 24.

“Our game plan was, we were going into the river in the morning for about an hour and then come onto the lake to finish,” he added, but that changed on Day One. “The last day, we got some nice fish out of the lake. We thought about it that night and said let’s dump into the lake for an hour and if nothing happens, we’d run to the river.

“We went into the lake first and kind of struggled, then burned into the river to our No. 1 spot, and that was kinda dead, but we did catch a 20-incher, so we went back to the lake and lit’em up for a couple of hours,” he said, “until that died. And we got most of our weight. Then it got hot and the bite kinda cut off.”

They lit’em up enough to be in seventh place, almost seven pounds out of first. Still, within striking distance. On a two-day tournament, never count yourself out. Ever. Don’t do it. Live to fish that other day. And, they did. Their Day One total: 17.31 pounds

Day Two, they stuck with the lake, and struck.

“Because we didn’t get much out of the river, we were going to start in the lake. We figured it should be a better bite before the sun got high. But one thing made us nervous. There was a full moon that night and in a shallow lake those fish would have to have sunglasses on,” he said.

“On our first pass, we put 14 pounds on the card by 8 a.m. That was enough to tell us that we probably wouldn’t be leaving. We were pulling Salmos and Flicker Shads. My son pulls all Flickers,” he said.

As the sun rose, they started eyeing crawler harnesses, and went to them, and that’s what piled on the pounds.

“Night crawlers, we would run about 1.2 mph with them. If there was current, we had to slow way down and if we pulled with the current, we had to speed up. We put a spinner blade next to the boat and judged how the blade was spinning, and that determined our speed. Once we put spinners on, we started catching our bigger fish.

“The first day, we had three over 20 inches. And on Saturday I don’t know if it was the spinners or AIM putting the camera guy in the boat, but once he got in, we started to light them up. We had one 20-incher and then put another 21-1/2, and a 22-3/4, and then a 24-3/4,” he said.

“We probably caught 50 fish a day. We couldn’t keep our boards in the water, but many were 17s, 18, 19s. Then there was “the look.” You know the one.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘you know what, we could be right there.’ We figure we needed one more, at least a 22 or 23 because of the seven pounds we were out. AJ (the eventual second-place team of AJ Schmidt and Mike Kasper) was trolling right in the same area and we figure he’s gotta be catching them too, and if he comes in with 15 pounds, he’s going to win,” Harwood said.

But, Saturday and the lake said to Schmidt and Kasper, not today. “It must have been just our day,” Harwood said.

Let’s pretend. This is you. How would you feel? You’re in the running to win something worth $105,000. The boat alone, sitting in a marine showroom, is valued at least $92,000. Again, how would you feel?  Here’s how the Harwoods felt.

“We came in, handed in our card, put everything away, and I asked Denny, ‘can we have one beer before this starts.’ He said, ‘absolutely, but I can tell you, you’re in the top five,’” he said. Instant wham! at the same time. How would that grab you? Stunned comes to mind.

“We then knew we were in the top five then and knew another team that had 18-something on Day One, and had a picture on Facebook that we could look at once the tournament was over, and it was almost a 25. We said if they had that in a good bag, we can’t catch’em. We figured probably that AJ won, and then Denny started calling us up. I’ve qualified for five championships now, and at every one, Denny has done it a different way, so you don’t really know where you’re at,” he laughed.

Then, it was down to two. And, Denny called it. They’d done it.

“I gave my son a helluva hug and he gave me one. There was nobody coming behind us. It’s quite a thing to do this, and even better when you do it with your son,” Harwood said. Can you imagine? Yes, you can. And that’s why you enter to do this, Fan Nation. Exactly why.

“We had to get home Saturday because we had a tournament to fish on Winnebago. We only put the boat back on the trailer. We were too burnt out. RJ said, ‘I’m tired, burnt out.’ We just put it on the trailer,” Randy said. No, they didn’t fish that tournament. They’d done it on the Rock, and it was enough.

“We’ve been doing this for a lot of years and any time you win $100,000, it’s pretty big. I’m glad we did well. We enjoy AIM. It’s a good tournament, and Holy mackerel, what a fishery on Koshkonong.”

Now, let’s see what the eventual second place team, Mike Kasper of Shiocton, and Andrew “AJ” Schmidt, of Fremont, did. They finished with 38.04 pounds, and won TWO Mercury 9.9 electric start, EFI Pro Kickers. Oh, plus another $500 for using Garmin electronics in Garmin Rewards cash. To accompany their Garmin electronics, they were in a Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat. They were the Day One leaders. Here’s their story.

“We arrived Sunday and we drove around the lake to put a visual to some of the maps,” Kasper said. “Monday we explored the river, and when we went north of the Island Bar, the river got dangerous really quickly. Our side scan showed boulders and extremely shallow water. And we were wondering, what did Denny get us into,” he continued.

“We decided to rule that out. Tuesday, we explored the southern portion. We were thinking that 15 pounds a day would be good. A 19- to 20-inch fish average was our goal. In that southern river we immediately started to feel a little more confident.

“Wednesday we played around in the river more. We still didn’t have anything over 20 inches. We then decided to go to the lake. We cranked it up to two mph and started catching a handful of walleyes, nothing special. But one thing we noticed,” he said. Remember those “little things” that make things happen? It was about to.

“The bottom of our boat had redworms squirming around. Sure enough we saw more. They were eating redworms. We said we’ve got to switch to crawler harnesses. During our last day of practice trolling crawlers, we ended up with some pretty nice fish and thought it’d be possible to put a 17- or 18-pound bag together. We went into Day One pretty confident,” Kasper said.

Day One, they headed to the lake. “We went to the south-central portion. There were probably 12 or 13 boats in the same vicinity. There was a little piece of structure. It seemed like the fish were in that region, a couple football fields in size. Normally, a half-degree water temperature, the fish were going to follow that. This was a new level for us. Water temperatures were 83, 84, 85. Lake Kosh is an unbelievable fishery. We were amazed.

“Day One we thought that with the heat the bite window was going to be fairly short. We had to get our weight before 10:30 or 11,” he said. Problem was, the fish didn’t think so.

“We had a very slow start. We had only 11 or 12 pounds on the card. We knew our window was almost done. We made a slight adjustment and moved a little,” he said. Bang.

“We had a 23, a 23, a 20 and later put a 26-3/4-incher on the card. We were skeptical. Did we just get lucky? One thing we did notice toward the end of Day One. The average was getting smaller,” he said. They ended in first with 23.99 pounds. Day Two started the same way.

“Once again, we were off to a slow start, catching fish but not the right size. On Day One, when fish were hitting our night crawlers, they were deep in the mouth. But on Day Two, they were just in the front corner. Bites were getting shorter. We ended up grinding out a bag of 19-inchers with one 20 that put us a little over 14 pounds,” he said. Oops.

“Going into the weigh-in we felt like we were going to be a pound or two short. The Harwoods, we’re happy for them. We grew up with them on the same system. We’ve fished in AIM against them several times. Our families have known each other and couldn’t be happier for them. We’re glad they got it done,” Kasper said.

Here’s the rest of the top five in the Shootout. Third place, earning them TWO eight-foot Blade Power Poles, plus $250 for the biggest fish on Day One from Navionics, with 37.80 pounds, Ross Grothe and son Roger, from Baldwin, North Dakota.

In fourth, taking TWO Power Pole Charge systems, were Matt Liebel, Williston, North Dakota, and Tory Hill, of Minot, with 37.71 pounds.

Fifth place and TWO Power Pole Charge systems also went to Evan Rosemore, of North Branch, Minnesota, and Steven Rosemore, Cloquet, Minesota, who boated 34.99 pounds.

Teams in sixth through 30th place each received $300.

Fan Nation, the Championship Shootout is history, but this season is definitely not. The 2023 AIM Weekend Walleye Series season continues with more qualifying events, including in the new Rivers Division. Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook site updates Learn how you can register for the next events 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.

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