With a 40hp Yamaha powered Alumacraft 165 Escape tiller on the line, Danny Thompson and Bjorn Horgen put 51.21lbs of walleye on their card to win the AIM Weekend Walleye Series (AWWS) “Alumacraft Championship” on Minnesota’s Lake Winnibigoshish.
The duo started fishing in Cut Foot Sioux Lake for a few hours each morning before heading out to chase fish on the main lake. At the end of day one the team was in second place, four pounds behind the leaders. They were mostly running bottom bouncers with livebait in 16 to 35 feet of water at 1.0mph or rigging chubs when they needed to slow down. The team also spent a short time snapping Jigging Raps. “It was really a grind for us,” said Thompson “We had to keep a positive attitude.” That isn’t always easy when you lose a fish at a critical moment. “We lost a big one with only four fish on the card, but we managed to get one more,” said Thompson.
Those five fish would total 23.80lbs, enough to put them almost four pounds ahead of the day one leaders, earning the victory and the $13,500 Alumacraft/Yamaha boat, motor and trailer package. “We had a great season and a lot of fun fishing AIM. We look forward to the Shootout next year. It should be a lot of fun with only 20 boats,” said Horgen.
After leading on day one, Tyler Wolden and Jack Bonsack started their day at the same spot in Cut Foot Sioux that was so generous to them the day before. With additional boat traffic and fish that just weren’t going for them, they had to scramble around on the main lake to put together a scorecard with 16.26lbs. The moves paid off, putting four of the five weigh-fish on the card in the last few hours of fishing. The team switched off between snap jigging and rigging redtail chubs to put together a two day weight total of 47.73lbs, cashing a check for $2000.
With two days of consistent weights, Mike Lillemo and Adam Braatz took third place with 46.43lbs. Like many of the leaders, they made the run to Cut Foot Sioux early, but left by 9am on the final day. Their second stop was a main lake hump known as the “Question Mark” and they started catching good fish immediately dragging leeches on ledges in 20 feet of water. The fish would slide up and down on the ledge with the wind and seemed to be constantly on the move. When the bite slowed, the team left to try other spots but ended up returning an hour later to find the fish active again. A 25.25 inch fish topped their scorecard and the team earned a check for $1000.
The father and daughter team of Jimmy and Chelsea Bell took home $800 and fourth place honors. After weighing 21.36lbs on day one, they started day two at Cut Foot Sioux, leaving by 8:15am. They made a move to a main lake bar known as “Moses” and quickly had a card full of 22 inch plus fish. Working Jigging Raps was their top tactic, but it was a leech that Jimmy threw out with ten minutes to go that would make the difference. A 26 inch walleye took the bait, giving them a nice upgrade and a two day total of 46.06lbs. “The wind helped turn the middle of the lake on,” said Jimmy. “When the Raps would die, the leeches picked up.” He also noted that he did a lot of running between spots over the weekend and his Yamaha used hardly any gas. “Incredible engine,” he said.
After ending up in 12th place on day one, Chaz Dobias and Ryan Hylla jumped up to 5th place by putting 24.36lbs of walleye on their scorecard for a two day total of 44.98lbs. Like many of the leaders, they went to Cut Foot Sioux and started out using Jigging Raps before switching to redtails. Even though a lot of other boats left, they ground it out on the little lake both days, catching fish in 16-34 feet of water. They took home $700 for their efforts.
The father and son team of John and Drake Herd ended the championship in 16th place, but that finish, combined with a first place at Otter Tail and back-to-back third place finishes at the Leech Lake events earned them the Amsoil AWWS MN Team of the Year honors and a check for $2500. “We had one spot on Otter Tail that paid off,” said Drake. “We didn’t catch many fish on Leech, but they were the right ones.” Besides having a lot of fun not worrying about fishing around slot limits this year, they enjoyed the time with each other on the water. They also credited their Warrior boat as a key to their success. “I can’t say enough about my Warrior. It got us from point A to B at every tournament, regardless of conditions,” stated Drake. John had this to say, “That Warrior is unbelievable! Now it’s time to win another Warrior!”
Rounding out the top five in the Amsoil AWWS MN Team of the Year points race were Scott Perala and Steve Whiting; Adam Andersen and Jason Evenson; Ross and Reid Grothe; and Dan Swenson and Jeff Braaten.
These teams, along with the top five finishing teams from the MN championship, will head to the Warrior Boats “Border Battle Shootout” in the spring of 2015 where they will compete with the top finishers in the AWWS Wisconsin Divisional Championship for a Warrior 1898 DC powered by a 150hp Yamaha outboard engine. The WI AWWS Championship will be held on Green Bay September 6th and 7th.
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 Marketing Partners: Yamaha Marine, Warrior Boats, Alumacraft Boats, Nitro Boats, Mercury Marine, Navionics, Amsoil, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Team Lodge, Powrtran, Gemini Sport Marketing, National Fleet Graphics, and The City of Oconto.