Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Knowledge, Perseverance, On-Water Skills

Will Win The Day At AIM NoDak State Championship

North Dakota’s original human inhabitants relied on knowledge of their surroundings, skills as hunters and a quiet confidence to persevere, and chances are the eventual winners of the AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Yamaha Motor Corp. state championship on Lake Sakakawea this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 14-15,will have to add those traits to their bag of tricks to do the same.

“With the weather always a factor here, the early word is that teams will have to run to find the predicted 50 to 70 pounds total to win here this week,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “But, the surprise factor is always there. You just never know if someone’s located a pod of fish that will take it all, also very possibly determine that coveted title of Yamaha Motor Corp USA Team Of The Year, and earn a spot in the next AIM National Championship Shootout.”

Capt. Bob Sabo is partnered with John Ries, both from Minot. Sabo is one of those predicting boats will be practicing “have fish, must travel” to get the job done.

“With not having a boundary, we’ll probably see most of the boats will be fishing exactly where we did for the Parshall qualifier, in Van Hook Arm,” Sabo said.

That will be across and west of the start-finish point, in Beulah Bay, on the 120-mile-long lake’s south-central side. And, that means runs from 25 to 50 miles are possible for teams looking to tangle with winning fish.

“I’ve not heard of a lot of decent (meaning winning) fish being caught in the lake’s middle. But it’s still shaping up to be a great tournament. You’re probably going to see at least 25 pounds a day to cash a check, but you’re going to have to drive a bit, 30 to 35 miles.

“There’s a big bay called Deepwater (Deepwater Creek Bay, at Van Hook’s southeast side) probably 25 or 30 miles away, and I’ve heard of some quality fish there. But everything I’ve been hearing is out west.

“When I start my pre-fish, I’ll concentrate from Beulah west,” Sabo said, when reached earlier this week.

He’s also betting on a crank bite, he said. “There were a lot of fish caught out of Parshall on live bait, but mainly smaller. I’ve caught my bigger fish on cranks. But I also have a feeling there will be some finding fish on Jigging Raps if the fish are deep. Some will be slip-bobbering too because I’m saying cranks,” Sabo chuckled. “There’s not a wrong way to fish on Sakakawea. But for me, the quality fish have been more on crank baits.”

“Some years the middle of the lake has been really good and some it’s been slow. Generally, on Sakakawea out west towards the Arm is the best. The middle of the lake is not fished quite as much,” he added. That means there’s also a chance someone will find’em there.

Winds are predicted to be a bit gusty for the tournament early on, but as Sabo said, on Lake Sak the wind has a tendency to change “consistently constantly. The wind can be a huge factor here,” he added.

This is Sabo’s second season fishing the AIM circuit, and he’s fished all four qualifiers this year. “I like the AIM series. This format of Catch-Record-Release is going to be the wave of the future,” he said. “I think it’s going to still grow here.”

Capt. Grant Miller and co-pilot Mark Nies of Dickinson may be running and gunning their Mercury-powered, Garmin electronics-equipped boat do get it done starting Friday.

“Lake Sak is my home body and I’ve fished a few tournaments right out of Beulah,” Miller said. “It is true that it seems like the middle part of the lake has been extremely challenging to find big fish. We did a tournament up there two weeks ago and the weights showed that. So, I think 80 percent of the teams will probably run to Van Hook. But this location is nice for the people who fish east, as it gives them an opportunity to head east.

He’s predicting any of three tactics will win the day here. “Cranks, live bait and Jigging Raps. I do a lot of running and gunning and if you’re running east it may be 15 to 25 miles. If you’re running west, you’re looking ag 40 to 50, and it could be as far as 60. So my partner and I have to figure out if we go, or grind on a couple of spots. If we do, then we’ll have to coordinate getting fuel. But if we want to crank the throttle back…”

“I think it’s probably going to take 60 to 70 pounds to win,” he added. “any of those three could win. We’ve had good weather the last week and the next seven to 10 days looks pretty stable too,” Miller said, as he headed out for his second day of pre-fishing.

Justin Selzler of Velva, and partner Jesse Carter from Coleharbor, is also betting on running in his 2090 Warrior. “The middle of the lake has not been very on fire yet this year,” Selzler said. “There are good fish caught both east and west. I think people will have to travel a little. I’m not sure if it’s where the smelt and other bait are right now. The east end will be a little closer. I think it’ll be east of Douglas (northeast of Beulah), or up by the Van Hook area.

“I think it’s probably going to take the mid-60s to win. Someone always finds the big fish. And there’s big fish to be had,” Selzler said.

The potential for a crank, live bait, or those Jigging Raps. The potential for running and gunning. Or, finding those elusive mid-lake pods of feeding fish hanging near bait. Head east? Head west? That’s where that knowledge, patience, skills and great electronics, and lastly, weather, will come into play this weekend as NoDak anglers vie for all the marbles on Lake Sak.

The fun and challenge begin with boat inspections at Beulah Bay starting at 5:30 a.m. both days. Boats will be released starting at 7 a.m. and will return starting at 3 p.m. both days. The winner will be announced Saturday at approximately 5 p.m. Central Time. Good luck to all teams!

Stay with for on-water updates both days, posted at AIM’s Facebook page. This one starts the championship round that doesn’t end until late this month, so stay with AIM. Details on all AIM tournaments are at the AIM website.

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, Berkley, Abu-Garcia, Fenwick, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Quality Flow Systems, Gemini Sport Marketing, Oshkosh Visitors Bureau, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed