Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 9, 2017
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
It’s All About Consistency, As Mertz And Miller Take AWWS/Yamaha Team Of The Year In North Dakota
You know the old saying. The race is not always to the swift. On Saturday, Aug. 5, Shawn Mertz and Tommy Miller, both of Bismarck, proved it again, earning them the title of 2017 AIM Weekend Walleye Series/ Yamaha Motor Corp. USA North Dakota Team Of The Year.
Consistency was the key. That and simply relaxing as much as you can despite the pressure accompanying tournament fishing, and just having fun on the water.
“It’s been a great year. We just went out and went fishing,” said Mertz, who with Miller, picked up a Yamaha 9.9 four-stroke for their efforts over a season that began in Bismarck on the Missouri in April. It also qualifies them for a spot in next year’s AWWS National Championship Shootout, at a water body to be announced next year. In other words, forget about winning. Forget about even catching fish. Just have fun. Relax. Allow it to happen. That’s often the key.
“We entered AIM to see how we stacked up against others on different bodies of water that weren’t in our comfort zone. If we ran into struggles a bit, we just went with it. Tommy’s a great partner to have, and we both learned a lot this summer, probably more while fishing AIM than I have in quite a few years, especially to fish against a bunch of really talented anglers, and pushing yourself,” Mertz said.
“It’s good to do something not always in your wheelhouse, but you have to, to stay competitive,” he continued. “This was one of our goals, to be on top, as it is with everyone, but we didn’t end up getting a win. We had a couple slip through our fingers.
“It happens to everyone, but when you’re out, we were trying to be really consistent, and consistency will pay off. This is probably as big an honor as you can get. It kinda proves that when you’re always there at the top, people know you’ve got something figured out a bit.”
They started out the season with a fourth in Bismarck on the Missouri, a pound or so out of first. “We actually skipped Devils Lake in May because it didn’t work out for our schedules,” he said.
At Garrison on eastern Lake Sakakawea, they finished third, he said. While the majority of boats made the long run to the west end, they stayed close. “We probably burned under 10 gallons and stayed within seven miles of the take off. We had a little more fishing time and it paid off. They next finished 8th at western Lake Sak. Not bad for never having fished there before.” Then came last weekend’s championship.
“We needed up going one day in one direction and next day, went the other. We had some really big fish at a spot but it wasn’t an everyday bite. We went there the first day,” he said. Their Jigging Raps, they found, weren’t producing like the day before. Everyone around them was hauling in fish using bobbers. Like bringing a knife to a gunfight, as the saying goes.
“We didn’t have a bobber in the boat, and we’re sitting watching the boats within 15 yards of us (who, they said, eventually finished second and third), watching their bobbers go down, and us saying, I wish I had a bobber….”.
Bouncing to other areas, they ended up pulling a 27-1/2-incher, and ended Day One at Devils in 4th place.
“On Day Two, we went in the opposite direction and the second fish of the day, we popped a 28-1/2-incher, which also happened to be the tournament big fish. But from that point we went downhill, and for some reason the big ones didn’t bite. We ended up with a full card, but with about 16 pounds, ninth for the tournament, but it solidified our win for Team Of The Year,” Mertz said. There’s that consistency, again.
And they did it with plastics. They and buddies try to do all their tournaments with artificial baits, through artifishalleyes.com.
“It’s actually been more effective for us. We can fish a bit faster and better in the weeds than you can with live bait,” Mertz said.
“We knew we had tough competition on Devils who were full-time guides or who fish there all the time. We had to hold off the rush, and ended up holding up with 25 points of cushion in the end.
Mertz said one of the great things about AIM’s Sunday tournaments is that they fit right into his schedule, too. “I don’t get a whole lot of time off work so being able to pre-fish Saturday before tournaments made a big difference. I really enjoy the AIM (Catch-Record-Release™) format.
“With AIM, there are no decisions about which fish you put in the box. Tommy and I have fished tournaments where we put in 23-inchers early and by noon we were catching 25- or 26-inchers we can’t keep, and all of a sudden, our tournament is over by 11 a.m. Given the AIM format, you can fish to the last minute, and the one who catches the best fish, wins.”
Next up on AIM’s championship trail is Wisconsin and a return visit to the Bay of Green Bay off Oconto. Will it be won in the north, which usually produces the biggest fish this time of year? Stay tuned this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12, to find out.
Watch for a preview of the Wisconsin Division Championship here Thursday, and all the action on the water and at the end of the day Friday and Saturday at AIM’s Facebook Page, and at 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 www.aimfishing.com.
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.