Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Primed For Bemidji: Dobias/Hylla And 44 Pounds

Takes Vermilion Rigging; AIM MN Championship Is Next


Watch out, Minnesota, because Chaz Dobias and Ryan Hylla are the latest hot sticks heading to AIM Weekend Walleye Series Mercury Marine Minnesota State Championship Aug. 16-17, by tuning up on Vermilion Lake’s big ‘eyes Sunday (July 28) and taking home a combined $7,300 in both tournament and incentive cash for a little afternoon’s work at Fortune Bay Resort Casino.

“They did that by netting 44 pounds even, and taking $6,000 from us at AIM for first place in our final Minnesota qualifier of the season, and frosting the cake with $1,000 from Garmin for using its electronics, and another $300 from Fox River Lures And Rods for using its rods,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “They’re also in the running for Navionics Big Fish Thursday. Now whether they can do it again on their home water no one knows, but it’ll sure be interesting to find out in about two weeks. Many thanks, too, to Fortune Bay Resort Casino for giving us a fantastic venue for our event.”

As Dobias said, the stars aligned perfectly for the Bemidji resident and area guide, and partner Hylla, from Moorehead, MN. Dobias said he wanted to fish AIM because that championship will be on his home water, and he missed the camaraderie of his fellow AIM anglers.

Here’s how they did it: by pre-fishing intensely in his Mercury 200 ProXS four-stroke-powered, Garmin electronics-equipped boat, mainly because he’d never been on it before.

“I was there for 10 days of pre-fishing because I took guide trips out there. I’ve never been on the lake so I wanted to get a good feel for it. I caught fish a lot of different ways out there, from Lindy rigging to casting Rippin’ Raps and trolling cranks and crawlers,” Dobias said.

But, the main pattern he and Hylla settled on was Lindy Rigging big minnows, 6- to 7-inchers, and suckers. Yup, suckers.

“Suckers aren’t something you can typically rig, but for some reason on that body of water, they really took suckers. We caught some big ones,” Dobias continued. “We fished a bunch of different areas, bumps and bays, off points of shorelines from 12 to 26 feet, on a lot of rock structure. I lost a lot of tackle through the week,” he said. Those 44 pounds didn’t come easy. Starting off with his top “loaded” areas that weren’t so loaded come Sunday.

“We did catch a 24-3/4 incher right away, then we had to move around. We got another 25-3/4 an hour and a half later and by 10 a.m., we had to make a call to make a 20-minute run one way, and it turned out really good,” he said. That made all the difference.

“By 11:40 we had our 44 pounds. In other words, it took us 45 minutes to catch a 27-3/4, a 28-1/2…” the list went on. Suffice it to say that all their fish were between 26-3/4 and that 28-1/2. They threw back a 26-1/4-incher. It was too small. “People were in envy when they heard. But you’ve got to have everything go right to win, and the stars really aligned,” he said. “When you run big minnows, you’ll get big walleye. You’re not going to get a 22-inch walleye. We wanted the right fish.” And, they got’em.

“We did have a couple of 40-pound bags in practice with clients so I knew that potential to have a 45-pound bag. When we were coming in I didn’t know if we had it because if you hammer’em that good probably someone else did too. We knew we were probably first or second but coming in we heard about a monster bag of 37, so it was pretty cool to be crowned champs. It was fun 20-mile drive, and we came in a half-hour early to make sure everything was good on the card,” Dobias added.

Now, about Bemidji.  It’s Dobias’s home water. And he’ll be ready, hopefully without the “home water” jitters headlined by over-thinking.

“I live three blocks away from Bemidji. But I told myself I felt more confident on Vermillion, a lake that I’ve never been on, than Bemidji. I think I’ll do good because I have enough spots and it’s a two-day tournament, but again it’ll take everything to go right to win it,” he said.

He also had great things to say about his fellow AIM teams. “The professionalism of the anglers in AIM is outstanding. Other boats watched us while we landed the fish, and no one came in on us. There was great sportsmanship,” he added.

In second place about eight pounds behind were the son-father team of Bjorn and Rodney Horgen, of Ham Lake, and Deer River, MN, respectively. And Ironically, they were working the same spot earlier in the day in their Merc 350 Verado-powered boat, and after they left, Dobias and Hylla claimed it to win it.

“Theirs came off the same spot. We were there in the morning and a half-hour after we left, they came in. I felt like the fish were turning off. I haven’t had very good luck there in the afternoon, but it’s a really good morning bite,” Bjorn said. “It was a mistake at my end to not pick up on it.”

Still, they pocketed $2,000 for their efforts.

“We had all our fish by 9:30 a.m., and two on our card by 7:31 a.m. The ones we ended up weighing were a 28, a 27, a 25-1/2, a 25 and a 24. But they (Dobias and Hylla) had a very good day. There was no making that ground up,” he said.

They took all their fish on aggressively jigged Jigging Raps and Lindy Rigs with leeches on a transition line from rocks to sand, and more on the sand.


“It’s a little cheaper fishing there, too. The lake is pretty gnarly and we probably had a $300 bill for Jigging Raps over the weekend. Popping the jigs four or five feet off bottom. We found very good success over the years with that and it starts to get better late summer into fall.

Any colors better than others? Bjorn won’t give that up just yet. “It’s a custom color and it’s a tough one for me to give up but it does mimic some baits that are in the lake,” he said.

Like Dobias, he’s also ready to get it on at Bemidji. “I actually went to college in Bemidji and probably spent too much time on the lake, and not enough time studying. I’m looking forward to getting back there and fishing it again.”

The rest of the top five finished this way: In third, and taking $1,500, for 34.38 pounds, the father-son team of Jake and Dave Bonsack, Royalton and Gibbon, MN, respectively. Fourth place and $1,300 went to the reigning AIM National Champions, Randy Topper, of Cohassett, and Chuck Hasse, Walker, who landed 34.09 pounds. And in fifth and winning $1,100 for 32.64 pounds, Mike Klein, Hastings, and Allen Kichler, Zimmerman.

Join us again in two weeks in Bemidji for the Minnesota state championship. Meantime, who’ll win in Devils Lake this Friday and Saturday at the North Dakota Championship? And, what team will clinch NoDak Team Of The Year honors and that 9.9 Yamaha four-stroke kicker? Find out by following all the fun via Garmin Fish & Hunt with updates at our Facebook page, then stay tuned in to see who took it all. Visit our website for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register for all AIM events.

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 events2323 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, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marinette WI, Pro Chattrr, Missouri Secrets Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Anglers Avenue pro shop, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods.

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