Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Never Give Up Is Mantra For Walser, Fields, Who Win

AWWS Winneconne With Big Payday and 20.45 Pounds


There came a point during Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Garmin Open at Winneconne Wisconsin, that Brett Walser and partner Avery Fields thought they’d never win it. Twelve pounds and change in the boat with check-in time on the horizon just wouldn’t cut it. But their decision to never give up brought them the winning fish to squeak by and take the second state season qualifier, and also potentially vault them into first place in points.

“Just .17 of a pound made the difference for Brett and Avery, and the positive attitude, especially with Avery suffering a work-related injury that basically made one arm unusable tells you a lot about these two. They’ve got a great shot at leading the Yamaha Outboards Team Of The Year points race. They did it at some familiar spots, and took home $8,500 from AIM, $2,000 in the AIM side pot challenge, and since they used all Garmin electronics, they boated another $300, for a payday of $10,800. And, have we got a great story to tell you about the second-place team.”

“It was a good day,” Walser said. With that kinda payday, by all means, it was.

“I guide, so people think I was out all week, but I haven’t had a trip. I went pre-fishing Friday on Winnebago and found a lot of fish. I left them alone and Saturday went up the river and didn’t get a bite, not even a junk fish,” Walser said. “So we were definitely not going to go up the river. We were definitely heading to ‘bago,” he said. So on Sunday, instead of going straight to Winnebago, he stopped at that famous community hole, the U.S. 41 bridge.

“I expected there to be 30 boats there and there was probably only 15, so I couldn’t help but stop,” Walser said. They were rewarded with their first fish, a 21-incher. And another and another.

“We filled our card there with 14- to 17-inchers, but only caught one nice one. “The 17-incher was one that finished our five, so two of the fish we ended up weighing were caught there,” he said.

The pair then ran Fox River fly rigs down the river and didn’t catch another. They went into the lake, made a pass twice at a reef, and again, nothing. So back they went to the river but now, near Oshkosh’s Ohio Street Bridge across the Fox River, and found more.

“We put on some live bait (leeches and night crawlers) and on back-to-back casts had a 21-incher and a 25-1/2-incher. We’d pull flies up the river and drop jigs in, in only a 100-yard stretch. We had that one 21 there, a 25-1/2and a 22-1/2 and all that happened in an hour or less,” he continued.

“We didn’t even know we had 20 pounds. We caught three of them jigging and one on flies in that spot. It definitely paid to have everything ready. We did everything possible, and that explains the Winnebago system. You have to bring what you’re going to need.

“I knew that once we knew we had 20.4 pounds and checked in, we had a good shot at winning. We thought we had to get one other big one to win. We thought we had to get rid of that 17-incher, and we happened to just barely win, and it was just barely,” Walser said. Then, he gave the lesson that has won many a tournament: don’t give in. Never, ever, give up.

“It’s still hard to believe, because at 11 a.m. I was ready to go in with 12 pounds, but then I told Avery, ‘never give up,’” he said. That especially applied to Fields, who could hardly move his left arm due to a work injury.

“It was pretty cool to win it with a guy with one good arm,” Walser said. Now, that attitude has put them in a great position to take the lead in TOY points.

“We got fourth in the first event (on the other Fox River at Green Bay), so we should be leading Team Of The Year by quite a bit. We’re both super excited for the next because at Petenwell we got second in the championship there (in 2021), so we should do pretty darned well. We’re pretty excited to get after it.

“I’d also like to thank Denny and his son Ben for doing their job so well. That work goes unnoticed. They’re just expected to be there every time instead,” he added.

Their job also was noticed by the second-place team, Dawson Bastian of Campbellsport and Bo Conner of Little Chute, who nearly nailed first with 20.28 pounds, earning them $3,500 and second-place side pot cash of $1,200, total: $4,700. Bastian, age 23, is in his third season of fishing AIM, and this was definitely his highest finish.

“It’s a fun group of guys to be around. There’s good camaraderie and they’re run well. They’re just fun to fish,” Bastian said. Their luck was nearly all on one spot on Lake Winnebago, with the oldest way to hook’em, slip bobbers and leeches. And, he said, he thinks he had more company and help than just his partner.

“I started Thursday afternoon after the rain died down and started south of the (Fox) river on Winnebago. We found smaller fish first and started going north and that’s when we found a school of big fish. Through Friday and Saturday, we continued to follow the school north and with the cold coming in Saturday night, they stopped moving, so we’d know where they were right away Sunday morning,” Bastian said. And by “big,” he was talking winners, 24 to 26-inches occasionally and averaging 21 and 22. They had their sights on that spot.

“We ran all the way down to Winnebago Sunday. In the morning, we were trying to get numbers, so we tried two trolling passes and had no luck. I looked at my partner and told him, ‘we have to slip bobber,’” he recalled. They switched up, pulled out those leeches that Conner bought, and went at it.

“Within the first 10 minutes we had a 19-1/2. After we caught that first, we looked at each other and said, we’d sit here all day. We ended up with three over 20, a 19 and an 18, and then there was an hour-and-a-half lull. We went on a trolling pass and that produced nothing. We went back to that school with bobbers and within five minutes had a 22-plus. It’s the only way we caught fish. This is normal this time of year. On Tuesday I was looking at the logs I keep from fishing. I knew bobbers work in that water temperature and told Bo that we needed a whole bunch of leeches, and I knew it was going to be the ticket,” Bastian went on.

Now, here’s the rest of the story. Bastian had a feeling that “something” or “someone” else was in the boat with them Sunday.

“We felt pretty comfortable knowing we were at the 20-pound mark. We were getting worked up because Saturday would have been my grandma and grandpa’s wedding anniversary. He passed away five years ago, and on the way to the dock my other grandpa’s favorite song came on that makes me think of him, This Love by Pantera. I cried on the way to the launch Sunday, and I knew it was going to be a good day even before takeoff,” he said. “I grew up fishing with them, and I think that’s why I had such a good feeling.”

Back at the dock Sunday, he said, he was hearing a lot of talk about 15 and 16-pound bags.

“I know Brett pretty well and he was pretty excited, and I asked what he had. I knew then we were at least in the top five. We were the only ones in the top five using slip bobbers. I like sticking to my roots and doing what I grew up doing,” Bastian added. “I’d also like to thank my mom. It was super windy all three days of pre-fishing, and she went out and stuck it out with me in those harsh conditions with me every day.”

Their showing at AIM’s Wisconsin opener wasn’t what they wanted, but second place here will move them up a whole bunch in TOY standings, and you can watch Bastian and Conner at the rest of AIM’s events this season.

Finishing out the top five, in third with 19.27 pounds, and earning $2,800 plus $800 in Side Pot Challenge cash were Dylan Peotter of Kaukauna and Anthony Englebert of Little Chute. Fourth place and $1,400 went to Kevin and Tim Wetmore of Wisconsin Rapids, with 18.53 pounds. And in fifth, taking home $1,300 for a 17.41-pound bag were Casey and Chad Wuest, of Slinger and Taycheedah, respectively.

Ok, Wisconsin. You’re “off the hook” until May 19 when we next meet on the Petenwell Flowage in Arkdale, WI. Coming up next weekend, Sunday, April 28, the AIM Warrior Boats Open, the North Dakota season opener splashes on the Missouri River at Bismarck. Watch here for a preview of the Mo at Bismarck, where hawgs lurk.

Been thinking about entering? Don’t wait too long. So far, at least two events have been sold out, or shy two boats of doing so. What are you waiting for? Get in on any or all four divisions by going to to learn how.

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, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, Outdoor Authority fish house rentals, Adventure Recreational Finance, Oconto County WI., Forever Barnwood

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