A change in conditions caused anglers to scramble at Sunday’s final AIM Weekend Walleye Series (AWWS) “Alumacraft Open” qualifying tournament on Leech Lake. With cool, northwest winds coming in overnight slowing the bite, many of the teams that did so well in Saturday’s AWWS Leech Lake event struggled and could not repeat their previous day’s results. Only two teams managed to cash checks on both tournament days.
Team captain Bruce “Doc” Samson and Sunday partner Tom Weihrauch made a key move to leave the deeper waters of Walker Bay mid-morning (where “Doc” had finished in 6th place on Saturday, fishing with a different partner) and put together an impressive 35.07 lbs to claim first place in Sunday’s event.
Fishing only 100 yards from take-off in Walker Bay, the team quickly put a couple of big fish on the scorecard with a 28.75 and 26.25 inch fish in the first hour. But increasing winds slowed their bite and at 11am they decided to leave Walker Bay for a shallow spot across the lake near Pelican Island. Samson and Weihrauch used slip bobbers in just 6 feet of water, knowing that they would either hit a home run or strike out. “Shallow fish are winning fish, if you can catch them” said Samson. Luck was on their side as they managed to catch more three nice fish to fill out their scorecard, and at 1:30pm they started up the 300hp Mercury Verado to head back to the launch site.
Samson credited two keys to catching the winning fish: MinnKota’s Spot-Lock feature on his Terrova trolling motor held the boat in precise position, and using smaller leeches under their bobbers. The team’s efforts were rewarded with a check for $6600.
When Abe and Amos Wolf saw that the fish weren’t stacked up like they were the day before on their primary spot in Walker Bay, they knew it might be tough. After catching only a 24 and 13.5 inch fish, they decided to move. Their day instantly turned when the main engine wouldn’t stay running. The breakdown may have been a blessing in disguise, as it forced them to hunker down in place and they proceeded to catch three more fish in the 24 to 26 inch range. Tactics used were a mix of livebait rigging with chubs on structure and pulling cranks targeting suspended fish off structure. They carded 27.86 lbs, earning second place and a check for $2600.
While the bite on Sunday was tougher for John and Drake Herd, they still managed to put together enough weight to take third place- which is also where the team finished in Saturday’s event. “We had to scramble and hop spots,” said Drake. Using 4 to 7 foot snells, 1/2 oz. sinkers and redtail chubs for bait, they caught six fish all day. Their best five totaled 27.16 lbs and put $1800 in their wallets. “The Warrior really took the waves well and it was nice not having to worry about taking care of the fish,” he added.
The Herd’s have had a remarkable season so far fishing the Minnesota AWWS events. With a first place finish at Otter Tail Lake this spring, and back-to-back third place finishes at Leech Lake, they are easily leading the current standings in the AWWS AMSOIL “Team of the Year” race in Minnesota.
This completes the regular season for the Minnesota Division of the AWWS. The championship will take place on Friday and Saturday August 8-9 at Lake Winnibigoshish where the winning team will be awarded a brand new Alumacraft 165 Escape Tiller powered by a Yamaha motor.
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.
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