Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2020
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Team Huynh, Wolske Take Leech Day One,
In AIM Minnesota Double-Header With 38.30 Pounds
When your name is Tom Huynh (pronounced “Win,”), you’d better be living up to it, and Huynh and partner Nate Wolske did it, taking home $9,000 Day One of the AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Warrior Boats/Highway Three Marine Open with 38.30 pounds, but not without a few stumbles to get there.
“Let’s just say Tom and Nate have a story to tell about this one, and since they run Garmin electronics, they’re also eligible for another $500 cash from Garmin,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “They also were one of 31 teams that entered the side pot, and won another $1,550 for being the highest placing entry. And true to form for Leech, this tournament was won on Walker Bay, by a guy who normally fishes for bass, and who just wanted to see what AIM was all about.”
That knowledge proved essential in how Huynh, from Moorhead, and Wolske, from Boy River, located and landed the fish they needed to win. But first, the drama before the curtain rose on Saturday morning, 7 a.m.
“I only entered the tournament less than two weeks ago because others were cancelled, and someone said here’s a good tournament close by, Huynh said. “I usually fish bass tournaments, so I was like, ‘oh, I’m going to give this walleye thing a shot.’” He wanted to enter Sunday’s event, but it was full.
That’s fluke Number 1. Moving on…
Huynh pre-fished four or five days, but didn’t make one cast, he said. “I was just looking,” said he, using his Garmin LiveScope fish finder to spot the right fish. “It was hard not fishing for them, seeing big fish and not casting, but all I need to do is find my stops and save the fishing for Saturday. I probably had 15 spots and half of them had like one or two spots within that spot,” he explained.
“The key on Leech is that a lot of the bottom is sand or mud and in literally 30 feet of water it was about finding something different on the bottom. A rock that was six inches or a boulder six feet across, or even just a stick. In the mud it could be two-foot-wide circles of pea gravel or something that I could see with my Garmin. That stuck out to me. With me being a bass fisherman, we throw at structure and I’m going to go where the big fish should be. I would cast at it and when the bait would get within a couple of feet, I would see the fish, either stare at it, run away or eat it, and Saturday, the bite was tough.”
Then begins the tale. Starting with the red tail minnows he had sitting overnight, safely aerated in his Mercury 250 Optimax-powered boat. You know where this is going, right?
“I caught them myself, and they were fine. Then, tournament morning, they’re floating on top. But, we had enough still alive to get by for the day,” he said. “So now I’m idling out of the bay at Chase On The Lake resort, and I look at my front graph and a window pops up saying there was a communication error, so I had to power everything down, unplug it and put everything back, like restarting a computer.”
Fluke Number 2.
That number cleared up, next on the list was the trolling motor. Yup, it gets better.
“While we were in the water, I put my trolling motor down an I heard this ‘ding,’ like just a metal, ‘ding.’ I didn’t see anything fall into the boat or the water, but we looked and the rear pivot point had completely broken off. The motor was swaying back and forth, front to back, and of course before a tournament, your mind’s racing anyway. We tried to fix it with zip ties and it was too heavy and there was just enough that the two of us could deploy the motor and the other could snap a pin into what was left. I bet we looked like a couple of idiots out there trying to fix this next to everyone, and every time we had to deploy it, Nate had to come help,” Huynh said.
Then, with the tension relieved by the multiple traumas, they went to work. Huynh and Wolske used all 15 of their spots, visiting them up to five times.
“I didn’t stay on any longer than 10 or 15 minutes. We just cycled through them all day long. If you throw at a bass, usually they bite on the fall. And if you don’t then you usually come back,” he said, hoping that eventually, they’d visit one walleye that finally was either curious, irritated or hungry enough to hit.
Their baits of choice: leeches, soft plastic Bizz Baits, and those red tails, on a “ned rig,” usually a soft plastic bass rig, cast towards fish, but in Huynh’s case, live bait and plastic. And all within a mile of the launch. “It was about pitching to those pieces of structure, rock, wood, and we could see with our Garmin that if the bait got close, we’d try to catch it, and if it wasn’t interested, we’d move on and come back later.”
“The very first cast I caught one of my 25-inchers in 32 feet of water, and a 21. Then I thought for sure the day was going to be worse,” he laughed, considering the start. But it had other plans for them.
“I had three in the first two hours and then it slowed down. We went to a different spot, a hump, and caught a 23 and a little later caught a 27 on a Bizz Bait.
The next two were both 27-inchers. Things began to go from worst to first. Literally.
“I was telling my partner, ‘we’re probably going to get a check, and we had an hour and a half to upgrade our 21. We made our cycle and one spot there were eight boats within 100 yards. It’s tough because I’m casting when the others were trolling, some real close to our boat. I caught it and we did our measuring and pulled the motor up and left because it’s really hard to get one to bite again. We went to a couple more spots and with 20 minutes left, we went back and there wasn’t a single boat there. I made two casts and I catch another 27, and that was it. I knew we were going to be in the top five,” Huynh said.
They found out they’d won the whole thing by friends texting them to look at AIM’s Facebook page for the standings.
“I was antsy after the tournament and never sat down in the boat during and I was pacing waiting and people started texting me and calling. I looked up the standings on Facebook. I’ve never won a bass tournament and I think I can incorporate some things into walleye that I’ve learned in bass. If I can throw them something a bit different it can work for me.”
And, Huynh is sold on AIM’s Catch-Record-Release™ format. “I was nervous about it because I’d never done it before, but the fish go right back. There’s no way to keep five giant walleyes in even the biggest livewells. This is the best way to do it,” he said.
Look for the pair to be at Minnesota’s next event on Lake Winnibigoshish for the season’s final qualifier Aug. 2.
Finishing second with 36.82 pounds, and $3,500 richer were Scott Schultz, of Watkins, MN, and Christ Peters, of Kimball. They ran between Walker Bay and the main lake in their Merc 350 Verado-powered boat, pulling spinners and crawlers.
“Pre-fishing wasn’t that good. The Friday night before I said I’d just be happy to get five fish,” Schultz said.
“We caught some in Walker pre-fishing and started there on Saturday. We fished two hours and never got a bite. We went to the lake and started pulling spinners, and we got a 27-incher and an 18-incher. And then sat there for another two-and-a-half hours and didn’t get anything, so we ran back to Walker, and never got a bite,” he continued.
We went back to the lake and as soon as we put our lines down, we got two fish one after the other, a 25 and a 25-1/2-incher. Then we got a 23, and with a half-hour to go, we got our 28-3/4 incher. That was the good one. We knew it was when it really buckled the rod. I stopped when it saw the boat and it dove under it, and it was hard to get it back out to net it. Our eyes got pretty big when we saw it,” he said. “We were by ourselves pretty much in the afternoon. We had the right twitch on the rod.”
They’ll also be at Lake Winnie in August.
“Last year I only fished one with my grandson and finished seventh. We’re trying to get in the points for the championship. That’s our goal for this year,” he said.
In third place and winning $2,800 plus $930 for second in the side pot were David Hernesman and Sean Colter of Grand Rapids, MN. They boated 34.52 pounds. Fourth place went to Ben and Dean Sollin of Lakeville, MN, with 34.51 pounds, earning them $1,500. In fifth, Dave Bonsack of Gibbon, MN, and Jake Bonsack of Royalton, netted 32.99 pounds and $1,500. Third place in the side pot and $620 went to sixth place finishers Randy Topper of Cohasset, MN, and Chuck Hasse of Walker. More on them on Day Two’s wrap.
Hang on for more results from both Day Two of Leech, and North Dakota’s Devils Lake qualifier that also took place the same weekend. Details on all other upcoming state qualifiers are at the AIM website.
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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