Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2020
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Lake Sak At New Town Is Second Stop On
AIM NoDak Tour; Where Will It Be Won Sunday?
So far, Lake Sakakawea isn’t giving too many hints for anglers who are pre-fishing near New Town, North Dakota preparing for Sunday’s (June 28) AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Warrior Boats/Pure Powersports Open. That’s the word so far from anglers on the lake at mid-week, but the shallows may hold the key to a winning bag.
“Lake Sak has been a destination for hundreds of plains walleye boats in the last several years, and where AIM teams will be launching, New Town, is in the middle of one of the areas many of’em go,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “It’ll be a change here from what we experienced only a few weeks ago at Garrison, when we had Great Lakes-size waves and wind to boot. The forecast calls for lots of heat, and all the teams entered hope that will also turn on the ‘eyes.”
Right now at least, anglers who have been on the lake are reporting teams may have to work for the big fish that will earn them both Team of the Year points, and cash come Sunday afternoon. Reports are that the lake is up to nine feet lower than last year. Lake Sak’s level is affected by snowmelt from the mountains, which definitely affects fishing and where to find fish. The lake is producing shallow, pitching jigs or rigging the back bays. But will they be the fish to take it?
Daren Schneider of Bismarck is “chomping at the bit” to get on the lake with his Mercury 350 Verado-powered rig and find the ones he hopes will lead to hoisting that first-place plaque and check. It might take some searching, he’s reporting.
“We were in the area last weekend and ran from Parshall (Parshall Bay, off Van Hook Arm) to Beaver Bay (southeast of Van Hook on Lake Sak’s south side), and there was not a lot of big fish consistency. There were plentiful numbers but the big fish were hard to find, and the depths ranged from six to 40 feet. We couldn’t come up with a pattern at all,” Schneider said.
“At least the winds won’t be blowing, we’ll have hot, and in the 10 to 20 mph range, making for a good walleye chop, stirring up the water that might turn them on,” he added. But so far, finding winning fish hasn’t been easy.
“We found smelt no matter where we go with our Garmin PanOptix, sites with smelt four feet thick. We were jigging up walleyes, drum and white bass that were gorging on smelt from 27 to 35 feet of water. The fish are rolling with fat they’re so thick and so full. The forage in the system is amazing, and it’s tough to get the big fish to bite when there’s so much to eat,” he added.
Right now, using crawlers with bottom bouncers and perhaps Slow Death hook rigs seems to be the way to get lots of fish. Whether it’s the way to get the right ones is the question.
“Someone will get on some fish definitely, in the shallows, and the locals, they’re creek chub fanatics, and they’re also going to get fish with chubs. We’re mid-section anglers so this is a lot of water to cover and figure out. I do believe the shallow bite has some serious potential especially if there’s heat and wind.”
At midweek, Greg Abdallah from Spearfish, SD, was getting ready to point his Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat north to start fishing Friday. He’s also wondering whether concentrating on the lake’s back bays will be the way to a payday.
“My friend and I have a camper there all summer last year and this, and we’ve been fishing it pretty hard for the last four years. The last two, fishing has become inconsistent,” he said. When he fished at AIM’s Garrison event in 2019, he said, “we caught fish so far back in the bays I would have never even gone there. But we did, and found fish.”
He’s also expecting lots of community fishing pressure from New Town to Van Hook Arm, where many of the events here are won.
“I’m going to say 20 to 25 pounds will be a pretty salty weight, but there again somebody always gets into’em,” Abdallah said.
“We’re sure going to have some options in the river. We’ve done well before but right now the best activity seems to be in Van Hook, but it’s a 35-mile run to get to Shell Creek (Shell Creek Ba, part of Van Hook Arm), and in a wind it’s not fun.”
Abdallah has fished AIM tournaments here before, finishing second in 2019. “AIM is a very well-run tournament, and we love the (Catch-Record-Release™) format.”
Loren Desjardins of Garrison will be there in his Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat, and agrees that it’s a different year on the big lake. This will be about his eighth AIM tournament.
“You can catch a dozen small ones and all of a sudden you can pop one mixed in. So you might have to weed through a whole bunch of smaller fish. But the lake is changing and it’s setting up, and the fish are starting to match up with their own size a little bit more,” Desjardins said.
He predicts a mix of both trolling and casting bait. “I think it will be 50/50. If someone finds a nice little pitching bite, that’s going to be good. But the bays will be more hit and miss. There is so much bait fish in the main lake there’s no reason for the fish to go into the bays. The smelt are unreal,” he said. “Each walleye is at least a quarter-pound more than what it should be because they’re so fat.”
That will make the already great fishery here even better in the future, as he’s seen healthy year-classes of smaller walleye.
We’ll see how they, and the other teams entered will handle the lower water, and where they will find the fish come Sunday when they launch at New Town Marina.
Team registrations and rules meeting will take place online Saturday. Boat inspection starting at 5:30 a.m. at the marina. Boats leave the marina starting at 7 a.m. and return beginning at 3 p.m. Standings will be posted on AIM’s Facebook page, at 6 p.m. Tune in Sunday for on-water updates. Details on all other upcoming state qualifiers are at the AIM website. As we are still doing, please follow all COVID-19 government guidelines.
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 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, Fox River Lures and Rods, McQuoids Inn.