Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Lake Sak Free-For-All: Warm Weather, Water, Turned On Fish As AIM Heads Into North Dakota Division Qualifier Sunday


Unusually warm weather pushing into the high 80s has warmed up Lake Sakakawea quickly, and the only way you can describe the lake now is, it’s a use-what-you-want free-for-all, but at the AIM Weekend Walleye Series season’s third North Dakota qualifier on Sunday, (June 18), only the biggest five fish count, so teams are on the hunt in the Warrior Boats Open.

“We’re already seeing teams pre-fishing and reporting lots of company as locals head to the lake, which in some areas has surface temps in the low 70s, so it may be a case of staying out of the pack to find un-spooked fish, and the right ones, too,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “The way it sounds at mid-week, the fishing’s just as hot as the lake right now, and that warm weather will continue through our event, but those NoDak prairie winds may also have a say.”

Word from the water is, you can catch fish just about anywhere, and at least one who’ll be on the water Sunday says he just may have found some winners. Maybe. Or, probably maybe, depending on how you interpret what AIM’er Matt Ristow reports.

Ristow, from the east at Bismarck, has been looking for fish since Monday in his Mercury 350 Verado-powered boat, with Garmin LiveScope and those other two makes aboard as well.

“The water’s warm and you can catch fish anywhere,” he said. And has he found any winners?

“Possibly,” was his sly response. “We’re finding good fish. There’s a lot of 19- to 21-inch fish, and I mean a lot of them,” Ristow said. “Getting those that are in the mid- to upper 20s, there’s plenty out there. You’ve just got to find them.


“Conditions are changing every day. You’ve got bug hatches and there’s bait moving in and out. It’s just trying to put that whole pattern together. The Van Hook Classic was this last weekend (named for the Van Hook Arm, where the Missouri River that is Lake Sak curls around a peninsula near Parshall, and which is a hugely popular area for sport anglers, and where this tournament leaves from), and it seems like the pattern’s changing from then.

“We’ve had unseasonably warm weather, and it’s ongoing, in the upper 80s and into the 90s, and it changes everything,” he said. “Whenever you get this hot weather, the wind never blows. They’ve been very light for here.”

But from his prediction of what it’ll take to do it here, he may be on’em right now.

“I’m going to say it’s going to take all of 35 pounds to win. Live bait, cranks, it’s kinda pick your poison. You find the fish and whatever you put in front of them,” he said. Those higher-than-normal temperatures are predicted to continue, but there’s also some south wind in the forecast, so we’ll see Sunday if Ristow has it figured out.

Launching for the first time in a while at midweek and firing up his 300-Yamaha powered boat was Minot’s Brandon Gullickson. He’ll have Garmin in the electronics mix. Starting on his first day of pre-fishing, he said, he was in line at a gas station with about 20 other boat trailers, an indication of the pressure on Lake Sak and Van Hook. That gives you an idea of how popular Lake Sak has become.

“There’s a lot of fish in the system. You can pretty much catch them with whatever you throw at them,” said Gullickson, who’s more familiar with the lake’s eastern end than here at Parshall. He’s planning to check everything out every day through Saturday afternoon’s cut-off time.

“Sometimes they congregate on structure, sometimes they’re spread out. Right now, water temperature is 71, high for this time of year. Air has been in the 80s and 90s the last couple of weeks here.

“I hear fishing’s been pretty good in the Arm, but we kind of like to stay away from all the boats. It’d be better if we can find a spot we didn’t have to share with too many people,” he said.

And you can bet that’s the tactic a lot of teams will be using. This event has been won before in the Arm. Teams have sneaked around the backside of the Arm’s islands, not only to be out of the way of others, but to be out of the wind as well. Current predictions for Sunday are for in the mid-80s, and south winds 8 to 15, gusting to 20. That wind can also possibly be your friend, stacking up bait, with fish following. We’ll see whether that holds.

North Dakota, here’s your qualifier rundown. Rules and regs will be covered via an 8 p.m. online meeting. Boat check-in and inspection begins at 5:30 a.m. at the Parshall Bay Rec Area on Van Hook Arm’s east side. Boats leave starting at 7 a.m., and will return starting at 3 p.m.

The awards ceremony is scheduled to begin at the rec area at about 4 p.m. Good luck to all teams!

Fan Nation, it’s been a pretty busy start to this season. So, after the Parshall event, we’re going to take a little break in the action to celebrate our great nation’s birthday on the Fourth of July. We’ll be back on July 9 with a pair of firecracker tournaments on the Mississippi river and Devils Lake, ND, plus more to follow in our four divisions. Stay with us. We’ve got plenty to talk about, from those Navionics Big Fish Thursdays, to what happened at Parshall, and predictions for the river and Devils.  Hope you’re having as much fun following AlM as we are to have you following our teams. We know they appreciate the support, and we do too.

The 2023 AIM Weekend Walleye Series season continues with more qualifying events in all four divisions. 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.

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