Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2022
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Late Spring Is Sure To Be A Player At Mille Lacs
AWWS Warrior Boats/Highway 3 Qualifier June 12
Weather, and the late spring in the upper Midwest has been lurking over the shoulders of anglers all season so far, and there’s no reason to think it won’t affect the full, 100-boat field at the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Highway 3 Marine Open Minnesota qualifier Sunday, (June 12).
“That’s the early word from those scoping out what’s been happening on Lake Mille Lacs so far this season,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “While things are starting to heat up, including the weather finally, the 100 teams entered here and leaving from McQuoid’s Inn may be looking at a different set of locations and options, and that means approaching the event with eyes wide open and perhaps leaving those memories at the dock.”
That’s the early word from three of the teams who will push off from Macs Twin Bay in Isle on the lake’s southeast side.
When you’re competing against perennial powerhouses Eric Nesius from West Fargo, ND and Mike Christensen from Minneapolis (that’s the other one, in Kansas), you’ve got to cover all the angles and all the possibles or they’ll make you pay. Nesius has a 20-year history of tournament fishing here, and his partner used to live here. Nesius is predicting that the team carding 33 pounds or so may just take that $9,000 first place check. They’re hoping they’re the ones, in their Merc 400 Verado-powered boat.
They fished another tournament trail there this past weekend for four days and also two weeks previous. They’ll show up Friday and pre-fish Saturday, and Nesius agrees that the cool spring may be affecting things, along with other factors.
“Last year the ice was off in early April, so things were a lot farther ahead. It’s been tough to say the least. You go back four years ago, and you know you needed a 28 inch average to win, and if you had 26s on your card you had no chance,” Nesius said. “Now you’ll be jumping up and down if you catch a 26-incher. I don’t know if that’s because the lake is behind. Weights have been down and it has been tougher to catch the big fish, and now a 26-incher will anchor your bag.”
The water is warming, he reports. “Two-and-a-half weeks ago, the surface was 54. Last weekend it was 58 and by the time we left Sunday it was 62. It really seems like some of the lake is behind, but you tell somebody that and in the next breath they say quite a few fish are on the mud already,” he said.
‘The lake just seems to be tougher than it’s been in years. A 26 didn’t get you excited then and now it seems like a pretty big fish. So, if you caught a 27, a 25, a 25 and a pair of 24s Sunday you’re going to have a chance to win. That’s going to be a pretty good bag unless with the warming temps the bite gets better,” he said.
He’s also with the others when he said that because just about any technique can win on any given day on Mille Lacs. Last year, leeches and bobbers did it. “Any of those will be the winning ticket if just the right fish turn on. At least 20 of the teams fishing will be on winning fish. It’s just a matter if those fish fire up or not. We’ve gotten a second and a fourth-place finish with AIM but haven’t sniffed first yet. We’ll see,” he said.
Brian Collins from Moose Lake, and Michael Zimmerman of Sturgeon Lake, are just coming off back-to-back Navionics Big Fish wins at the AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout last weekend. Collins, who was on the water pre-fishing starting Thursday in a Mercury 400 Verado-powered boat with Garmin in the electronics mix, confirms that it’s been a late spring and summer, so he’s expecting the lake to fish far different than when AIM visited here last June.
“It’s quite a bit farther behind so the fish are setting up in different areas,” Collins said. “At some other tournaments here, the weights have been lower than anticipated so it’s important to think outside the box, because the areas that you would go normally for his time of year, especially compared with last year” may not be the ones taking that $9,000 first place check.
“Especially compared with last year, when the lake was way ahead. Given the fact that they’re almost a month behind, they may still be holding close to some of the rocks and spawning areas, so we’ll have to recognize that things are way behind,” he said.
It’s been nearly a month since he’s been on the lake, but he isn’t too worried about what technique will produce.
“The cool thing about Mille Lacs is that everything works. It just depends on how the fish will set up. In the rocks it might be a jig and minnow. It might be a Lindy Rig. It’s all depending on the way you like to fish,” and he said, everything is coming together despite the weather, which is predicted to be in the mid-70s with a slight wind, unlike last year’s four-footers.
“That’s also the cool thing about AIM’s format. You’re not fishing a restricted slot (catch-release for walleye is in effect on the lake June 1-30, which fits right in with AIM’s exclusive Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ format), you’re fishing for the five biggest.
“I think that if a team can bring in mid-30-pounds, that’s probably going to put you in the top 10 for sure. Given the weights that other tournaments have brought in, that will put you right in the hunt.
Water temperatures on the lake are in the mid-60s so fishing conditions should continue to improve, and we’re looking forward to it,” he added.
We reached Joshua Blosser pulling his 300 Yamaha-powered boat to the lake. He’s not been there yet this year and he’s also expecting the lake to be fishing like it’s May.
“I’m going to assume things are behind or at least to put it a lot different this time. The weights should look way down and even the number of fish compared to what a typical early June should be,” Blosser said. He also reports that in recent tournaments, there were teams that zeroed.
“Which is kind of unheard of. I’ve done pretty well on Mille Lacs, so my game plan is to have a couple key areas I want to see and take into account knowing it was a long winter. I still want to look at a couple areas to try to get a pulse on what’s going on, but from there my mind is wide open. I’m going to fish like it’s my first time and figure out what those fish want for the conditions we have,” he said.
He was planning to be on the water Wednesday afternoon. “This will be my feeler day, seeing the water temperatures and work to try to get some of the puzzle pieces laid out. Thursday and Friday will be time to get them to fit together and make it happen.
“We have stable weather coming so I do think it’s going to shape up. I’ll go on a limb and say to win it, you’re going to have to have 35 pounds. Not the entire lake but a couple of boats will get on a good program, so for a top 10 you’ll have to be over 30 pounds,” he said.
“There are a lot of really, really good sticks here and we all will have to kind of erase their memories of the last three or four years and go find some new fish,” he said.
Stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook page to follow the event on the water this Sunday. The event kicks off with an online Zoom registration meeting at 7 p.m. Saturday. Boat inspections begin at Mac’s Twin Bay starting at 5:30 a.m. The first flight of boats leaves at 7 a.m., with the first boats due back by 3 p.m. The awards ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at McQuoid’s. You can still register for all events in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota at AIM’s website.
You know you want to. You know you can.
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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, Marinette, WI, Explore Alexandria, Rosemore Outdoor Gear