Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2018
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Ottertail Lake Hosts AIM’s Warrior Boats/Kovash Marine Open, Minnesota’s First Divisional Qualifier, Sunday
Minnesota’s walleye season has been open barely a week, and for the anglers entered in the season opener AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Kovash Marine Open this Sunday, May 20, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to visit sunken-island-and-structure-strewn Ottertail Lake.
“Ottertail is one of those Minnesota lakes you just have to fish. It throws everything at you from deep drops to shallow shelves, and that’s why we’re back after two years,” said AWWS National Tournament Director Denny Fox. “The official iceout was May 5, just two weeks ago. That little twist should make things interesting for all the teams.”
With this year’s extra-late ice-breakup, fish may have already spawned, or perhaps not. Tyler Wolden, who with partner Nate Leininger, both of Miltona, Minnesota, has fished the nine-mile-long lake extensively. Wolden grew up on its shoreline, and still calls it his “original home water.”
Using Berkley Flicker Shads and live bait, and catching fish both in the shallows and deeps, the pair won the last AIM tournament here, and they’re hoping to score a repeat. But, that event was in July.
“I fish it quite a bit every year, but it’s going to be a different Ottertail Lake than July,” Wolden said. The lake is a river-fed system, with its waters eventually draining north into Hudson Bay.
It’s a deep system, too, with steep drop-offs that go from 10 to nearly 50 feet in a few boat lengths, perfect for hungry post-spawn walleye to wait for a shiner minnow meal, or a lure.
“Because it’s a river system, it depends on bait fish, and the bait fish this time of year are running shallow, so typically, you fish a different pattern than summer,” he said. Fish will be looking for something tasty at those two river inlets, and the lake’s two outlets, Wolden predicts. But post-spawners also will be in the lake proper.
“There’s only a certain percent that go to spawn in the river. Yes, those current spots can hold fish and when they put the feedbags on it can be lights out. But for the other fish that don’t spawn in the river, they congregate on the rock and sand flats,” of which there are many in Ottertail. In fact, one look at the Navionics lake map at the AIM website tells that story.
“They typically don’t congregate this early, when they may not be in a feeding mode” so soon after the ice left. He’s betting they’ll be shallow, but Wolden says that anglers will have to cover a lot of the lake to get their fish.
“I’ve also heard of fish caught out deep in 15 to 22 feet range, which is kind of staggering to me,” he added. He’s betting that 25 pounds or better will put you on top of the podium.
Two of the anglers hoping to best Wolden and Leininger are partners Dusty Cartie from Aitken, MN, and Colby Gallagher, of Grand Rapids, MN. Their first time on the lake was at the last AIM event, and they’ll be pre-fishing starting Thursday, Cartie said. He’s also expecting that a weekend cold front may flush fish into warmer, shallower water.
That late ice breakup may also factor in. It’s his tradition to fish the opener at midnight, and he did on Mille Lacs. “No matter where you put your light in the water, there were males stacked up, waiting for the females,” he said. Cooler temps in Ottertail may also affect the spawn.
“We may have to slow our presentations even more. I don’t know if many big females will get caught. They’ll be recuperating from the spawn,” Cartie said. “The saying goes that when the lily pads pop the shiners will spawn so I think it may be a shiner bite, but in the same breath I wouldn’t be afraid of cranks. The main thing is finding that right speed of the presentation.”
The other factor will be a two-day tournament on the lake on Friday and Saturday, sponsored by a local radio station, with a live weigh-in, he said. That’s why he prefers AIM’s unique Catch-Record-Release™ format.
“I love it. I like it for the fish, for the body of the water and especially the fact that you take the fish in the boat and 30 seconds later it’s back in the water. You’re not really hurting anything and as a tournament angler, you don’t have to think, ‘well, do I keep this one or not.’ Everything you catch is on your card for that day,” Cartie said.
AIM anglers will meet starting at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Cactus Bar, 43521 Fort Thunder Rd., Perham, MN, for the registration and rules meeting. After launching at the location of their choice, all teams will meet off The Corner Store Beach in Battle Lake, beginning at 5:30 a.m. Boats take off beginning at 7 a.m., and return to the beach beginning at 3 p.m. depending on takeoff time. The awards ceremony will take place at The Corner Store Beach starting at 5 p.m.
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, LLC.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Gemini Sport Marketing, Treeland Resort, Anglers Avenue, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau