Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Prediction: 35 lbs wins; Actual: 44.92 does it on Mille Lacs For Hylla Brothers During AWWS Warrior Boats Open Sunday


Call it “power corking,” or “road hunting,” brothers Ryan and Corey Hylla, used their Garmin Panoptix electronics to the limit Sunday, pinpointing specific fish and then going after them to win AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats /Warrior Boats Center Open by three-quarters-pound on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs.

“Whoever said that Mille Lacs walleye were small and few had better come to Mille Lacs and fish these beauties,” said Denny Fox, AIM National Tournament Director. “The top 13 teams, in fact, each had huge bags, all over 40 pounds, and the 14th place team had 39.90 pounds and 15th had 39.87. In lots of other lakes, any of those weights would have easily won an event.”

Ryan Hylla, from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (MN), and his brother Corey, from Blaine, MN, not only went home $8,000 richer from AIM’s tourney pot, but also got $1,000 from Garmin for using its cool Panoptix system mounted on their Mercury Verado-powered boat to target specific big fish, then nailing them rigging leeches and crawlers, and pitching occasional Moonshine Shiver Minnows. They did it along breaks on the lake’s mud flats, moving ever so slowly. Because the lake kicked up in the wind Sunday, boat control was the key to the win, Ryan Hylla said.

“We knew going in that 45 pounds was going to win, so we had a goal in mind that we were going to put up 40 and hopefully then get some kicker fish,” Ryan said. Pre-fishing Thursday through Saturday, they found fish everywhere, and they mean everywhere. “We found fish in the shallows to the mid-lake, on the flats, it didn’t matter, and all different sizes, from 16 up to 27-1/2 inches. So we were confident we could get five on the card.”

When they saw some bigger fish caught, they knew they had to concentrate on those mud flats, he continued. Pre-fishing, they used their Garmin electronics to home in and “power cork” the fish, first finding big guys, and hovering over them, dropping slip bobbers over the side and picking them up. “Panoptix is all live time and you’re able to see particular fish, so I could turn in any direction and see out from the boat about 80 to 200 feet, 360 degrees. I could see where that fish is, and cast out to it. We could actually see our bait drop and if you were beyond the fish you bring it to the fish and you could actually see those fish move and hit.”

However Sunday, when the winds picked up, that “power corking” technique wouldn’t get it, so they used their electronics to rig and cast instead on the top edge of the flats and sliding off the sides.  Better yet, they were all alone on their fish, with other boats south of their position. They found the fish had moved a bit on Saturday, and on Sunday, went there to stick a 19-incher right away.

“We were able to hover right over the fish even with four-foot rollers coming over the back,” Hylla said. Working that edge from .5 to .8 mph, targeting unpressured fish a mile or so away from 20 or so other boats, all fighting for the same fish. “We were on what was typically a community fishing spot. It was just finding the spot on the spot” where the winning fish were, he added.

After carding a 27-1/2-inch ‘eye, to fill their card, they decided to move and hit one of their five spots, moving south just a bit, and began upgrading with 23- to 26-1/2-inchers. Then other crews caught wind of their success, came in, and the fish there began scattering. They then returned to their first spot.

“We knew we needed upgrades. We had about 32 pounds, and within the first 20 minutes Corey got bit, and pulled up a 29-incher, an absolute giant. We figured we were sitting around 38-1/2 pounds with two hours left, and 15 minutes later he got bit again,” Hylla said.

“It wasn’t until it got closer to the boat when Corey said it might be an upgrade. I thought it was a 27-inch fish. Corey put it on the ruler and the first thing I said was, ‘make sure the nose is all the way up,’ and he said, ‘it IS all the way’. I looked down, and it was 30-3/4 inches,” he said, still amazed at the size a day later.

“To be on the water with my brother, it was definitely rewarding. It definitely added excitement. We put that one on the card and continued to upgrade more and gave ourselves plenty of time to head back to the finish line at Mac’s Twin Bay resort without beating ourselves up,” he said.

Back on land, they began comparing weights among the full, 100-boat field. It took over 80 pounds to win a two-day tournament that ended the day before, so they were excited.

They’d taken a second and third in some big events, but when Denny Fox announced their names, it was their first big event win.

“Mille Lacs is a great lake if you want to catch big fish and all different sizes. It’s also a trophy smallmouth fishery and the muskie fishing is totally on fire. Anybody going to Mille Lacs is going to have fun,” he said. He also passed along two other tips that worked for them.

“We noticed we were getting bit a lot when we started reeling in, so those fish were more aggressive with a faster presentation, and it definitely benefitted us. The other was the length of our snell. Anywhere from 12 to 14 feet seemed to be the ticket. Once we got below 11 feet our success diminished. A lot of that was due to the clear water. We were also using red or orange hooks and the biggest leeches we could find in our batch. In all, we caught more than 50 fish Sunday.”

Using electronics to pick out larger fish was like culling without hooking, he said, especially during pre-fishing. They’d drive over fish and quickly throw it in reverse. “We’d both literally drop slip bobbers off and a lot of times before the stop even hit the bobber, your bobber would go under. The second place team was doing the same,” he said.

Now, about that second place team. They were also practicing ‘selective walleye,’ but they were the ones doing the selecting, and because Mike Christensen, of Ile, MN, who owns Hunter Winfield’s Resort on the lake near Mac’s, and Eric Nesius, of Argusville, North Dakota, came up shy of first by about ¾-pound. Nesius said they’d had it won multiple times Sunday, but only in their dreams, because they lost fish that would have done it.

“We had the bites to have an absolute mega-bag, but that’s the difference between winning and second,” Nesius said. They took 44.14 pounds and went home with $2,400 from AIM, and because they did it in a Nitro ZV21 powered by a 350 Verado, they got an extra $500 from Nitro. If they’d won, it would have meant another $4,500 in Nitro tourney rewards. Here’s what did, and didn’t, go right:

“We were fishing the rocks probably as shallow as 15 feet and as deep as 23,” Nesius said. “Now when you hook an over 28-inch walleye they often go over the other side of the reef. A 26-incher can’t do that. We lost two that were over 28 for sure and maybe as many as four. During pre-fishing Friday we had four over 28 and figured we lost two more. We were slip bobbering with leeches. We call it road hunting and have been doing it for 15-20 years.”

Because the fish are visible on your unit, he said, simply flip out a bobber, and it’s welcome aboard almost every time.

“We got beat by a ‘unicorn.’ I’ve never seen one over 30 on Mille Lacs in all my years fishing there. But, what’cha gonna do?” Indeed.

The rest of the top five finished like this:

In third with 43.64 pounds, good for $1,800, were Mitch Hackenmueller and Tim Schwartz, both of Zimmerman, MN. Fourth place went to Matt Eilertson, Ramsey, MN., and Ben Widing, Hill City, MN, who boated 42.19 pounds for $1,500. In fifth were Mike Klein, St. Paul, MN, and Allen Kichler, Elk River, MN, with 41.51 pounds, earning them $1,300.

The AIM Weekend Walleye Series now turns west to North Dakota at New Town on the shore of Lake Sakakawea for the next Warrior Boats /Woodland Marine Open next Sunday, June 17, Father’s Day. The next Minnesota Division qualifier is that great AIM dual event, two individual tournaments in one weekend on Leech Lake, June 23 and 24.

We’ll tease with preview of Lake Sak later this week. Watch for it at AIM’s Facebook page, and download entry forms—including you anglers in North Dakota for Lake Sak, until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 13. Wisconsin, you’re up next on July 1. For info on all AIM events, go to

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, 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

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