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Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


 Lake Sak Is On Fire As AWWS NoDak Division Arrives; The Question Is, Who Will Find The Big Fish Sunday?


Cramazing, a combo word defined as crazy-amazing. That’s the only way to describe the walleye action at the next AIM Weekend Walleye Series destination, western Lake Sakakawea, for Sunday’s Warrior Boats/Mondak Sports Open. No problem catching fish, but whether they’ll be the right fish is the only thing the teams will face.

The lake is on fire with walleye, according to three team members who will be leaving from Four Bears Casino at the lake’s western end for the final championship qualifier event of AIM’s North Dakota Division season.

“To say the fishing is good is a complete understatement,” said Matthew Liebel, of Williston, ND, who runs Liebel’s Guide Service from the seat of his 2090 Warrior.

“I really don’t have any words to describe how it’s been. Yesterday my partner went out with a friend. They had 123 walleyes by 2:30 in the afternoon. I was out yesterday and I boated 73 walleyes by myself, fishing two rods all day, and 60 were before 1 p.m.,” Liebel said. “I’ve never seen the bite this good. Last year was pretty close, but this year it’s just awesome.”

But, as always, the biggest thing facing the teams Sunday will be picking out the big fish from the 16- to 20-inchers that are all over the lake right now.

“It will be finding those fish 22 inches, up to 27 or 28, and putting a couple on your scorecard,” Liebel said. “At a tournament two weeks ago here, 34 pounds won it, and 24 pounds didn’t even get you a check. That was won in the Van Hook Arm area, only 35 or so miles from the start.”

But, he added, you didn’t have to go that far to win. There are big fish closer, too. The key, he said, will be getting away from the others to get the big numbers.

“The AIM format is so nice because you can get your five, and no one should have any problem there,” he said. “Then you can go find big fish. There’ve been reports of big fish shallow and deep. It’s already hot, 90 to 100 degrees the last week or so, and there’s not been a lot of wind lately.”

And, everything is working.  Rigs, trolling cranks and spinners, you name it, and even a Jigging Rap bite is starting, he said. And, he and teammate Tory Hill, from Minot, currently in ninth for NoDak Team of the Year, will be swinging for the fence.

“If you want to try and gain some ground in the T-O-Y race you’ve got to go big,” he said.

And that means finding their food first, added fellow competitor Terry Wilson, who lives on Van Hook Arm. And there’s plenty of that, too.

“The reservoir started filing back up in 2008 and the smelt population just exploded. We’ve now got four distinct year-classes of walleye in Sakakawea. The numbers aren’t the problem,” said Wilson, who is one of the original owners of AIM. It’s again, finding the right five fish.

“They’re following the smelt. As the smelt move up and down the breaks, the walleye move with them. The key is finding what level the smelt are at and once you do you’re going to catch fish,” Wilson said.

The trick is finding them, because the schools move, and the walleye move with them, he said. One day they’re there, and they’re not the next.

Lake conditions also are great, he said. The west end of Sak had been like chocolate soup, the result of western snow runoff and winds, but it’s clearing up. The decision teams will make will be, will they head to the west end, or choose that swooping southeast run to Van Hook.

“You won’t have time to do both,” Wilson explained. “Weights have been phenomenal this year, and it will take in the upper 20s or in the 30s to win this. Someone will stumble on them.”

Weekend temperatures also factor in, said Lincoln, ND’s John Anderson, who’s partnered with Matt Ristow of the Bismarck area, and who are in their second AIM season.

“It’s supposed to be near 100 degrees this weekend (predicted high at midweek for Sunday is 95), and I think it’s going to push the fish pretty deep. Last weekend the bait balls were 15 to 30 feet and they probably will be 30 to 70. I think a lot of teams will have to use snap weights or Tadpoles.”

“I think it’s going to be a crank bite because the water is so warm. There’s some good structure north of New Town, but almost the whole pack will probably head to Van Hook. About any time of year you can go there and find them,” Anderson said.

“If you can find deep water structure, the bait fish will be there, and if the bait is there, the walleye are going to be there.”

That’s what the field will be finding out between now and Sunday morning. Team registration and rules meeting will be at Four Bears Casino in New Town Saturday starting at 5 p.m. The first flight of teams leaves the casino marina at 7 a.m., and are due back starting at 3 p.m. The awards ceremony at the casino begins at 5 p.m.

Watch it happen live at AIM’s Facebook page as it happens on the water care of Garmin and 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

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.

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