Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2023
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Water Temperature Will Figure Big At AWWS
Double Header Opener On NoDak’s Lake Audubon
It may just come down to water temperature at the dual duels of the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats Mild2Wild and Pure Powersports Open double-header qualifier on North Dakota’s Lake Audubon Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21. That’s because the lake ice was late leaving by as much as a month, and the water being pumped to raise this lake adjacent to Sakakawea is cold and clear water, entering an already clear lake.
“Since we had to cancel a tournament last month on Sakakawea when the lakes here were still ice-bound, this morphed into an AIM dual duel, the first, the Warrior/Mild2Wild Saturday, and the second the Warrior Boats/Pure Powersports open, Sunday,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director.
“The pump at Snake Creek has been working 24/7 for the last week, and that means Audubon is on the rise, but the water temperature may not be. But with warmer weather currently continuing in the forecast, we hear that we’re on the verge of an outbreak of walleye that are ready to chew,” he added.
“That word comes from most of the teams we talked to who are representing North Dakota in the $100,000 AIM National Championship Shootout on Wisconsin’s Rock River at Fort Atkinson June 2-3. But for now, you can bet that every team who’ll be on the water Sunday is thinking about what it will take to win at Audubon first,” Fox said.
Ross Grothe of Baldwin, ND, will be on Audubon with 13-year-old son Roger for one of the events, then 16-year-old Reid may fish the other. Ross qualified for the Shootout with Roger, and we reached him on his first day of pre-fishing.
“We’re supposed to get a little wind Wednesday and Thursday so I’m taking advantage of the nice weather today,” Ross Grothe said. “The water temperature right now is about 53 or 54 in the back bays, so obviously I’m looking for some of the warmer water close to some of the spawning areas. Reports haven’t been great, but then people haven’t been out much. I’ve found some bass, a couple of pike and a couple of walleyes, so I can’t complain.”
He said he’s “more or less” just poking around in his Warrior 208, powered by a Yamaha 300 and with Garmin electronics, to get reacquainted with the water, having only fished Audubon one time two years ago.
“So I’m putting in my time. I think the points, anything windblown with the proper temperature” may be where he hangs his lines out this weekend. It’s a super clear lake, so that’s going to be a challenge. We don’t have much of weed growth yet,” Grothe added.
The edges and some of the back bays that might warm up quicker and that might attract more bait fish. I think overall if you can get a limit of 18- to 20-inch fish, you’ll be sitting pretty good, but there’s a lot of good teams in this area, and I’m still cutting my teeth out here.”
Agreeing with Grothe was Craig Kolden of nearby Garrison, who’ll be with his partner in the boat and out, Shaeli Ekstein-Kolden, in their Mercury 225 Optimax-powered boat, with the trinity of electronics including Garmin aboard. Like everyone else, he’s paying attention to that water temp. Audubon, he said, actually feels like three lakes because of its arms.
“I’ve been checking the water temperature going through the pump and what’s pumping in will be different, which means colder,” Craig Kolden said. “It’ not a huge difference, but one degree this time of year could make all the difference. I’ve never fished a tournament at Audubon with the pump on before, but there are times when people catch’em.
“They usually let the pump run for two or three weeks, and this will be the first week. We’ve got two really warm days so far and that will make the weeds grow. The magic number is 54 degrees and right now it’s about 50. The weed growth on the lake is very important. Hopefully the water stays relatively dirty because this is a very clear lake. It’s not uncommon to see 30 feet down in winter,” he added.
I’m hoping the water makes them come up shallow but if it stays clean, you eliminate a lot of areas. If the water’s too clean you aren’t going to see any fish in it,” he said. So far, all his practice has been driving the lake, like Grothe.
“With the water changing, it isn’t going to matter because it’ll probably be a foot higher by tournament time. A lot will be changing the next few days,” he said. Here’s his prediction.
“You’ll have to have two kicker fish over 23 inches to place in the top five here. So you’ll have to have 17 to 22 pounds and you can probably get your hopes up for a good finish. The bite is tough but it’s on the edge of being good.”
Another Shootout qualifier who’s coming up short during practice at least so far is the other husband-wife team of Daren and Heide Schneider, running a new boat with a Mercury 400 Verado on the stern and Garmin among the electronics aboard. He was reached on the water, and so far isn’t finding much.
“Temperatures are coming up but the water is still in the mid 50s. The lake’s come up a couple feet since Sunday so by the weekend it should be to the level they want it. The water is clear, and the weeds are down from a couple of years ago when we were here. So we’re three to four weeks behind where we should be right now,” Daren said. And so far, it’s been tough.
“It’s not great. Yesterday was tough. Today I’m trying some new stuff and so far it’s not working. We’ve got a weather pattern moving in tomorrow (Wednesday), so temps will drop and winds will blow,” he said. And the winner could slip in with a card in the teens.
“There will be plenty of mid-teens brought in, and if you can get a kicker, you’re going to be sitting really good. It’ll take the mid-20s (pounds) to win. Someone will get a kicker or two and you’re going to see 24 to 27 pounds winning,” he added.
The fourth Nodak team going to Wisconsin and who will be on the water at Audubon in their Merc 250 Verado power, with Garmin also aboard is Jeremy Wentz of Washburn, and Don Radke of Williston.
Wentz was on the water over the weekend, and his report is ditto. Extremely clear water, and slow fishing as a result, but he’s hopeful for a change this weekend.
“Pumping the water into Audubon will bring the walleyes out of their spots and make it more predictable finding fish. With clear water the fish do get afraid of the boat, so I think cranks and planer boards in shallow along the weed lines in about eight to 10 feet. You have to get lures away from the boat because the fish will spook quite easily. If you’re in 15 to 20 feet it’s a little easier to trick them with live bait. I’ll try both and we’ll see what they’re biting on,” he said. That includes along the riprap where U.S 83 crosses the lake. When AIM was here a few seasons ago, it was won along that riprap.
You know you want to. You know you can.
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.
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AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats inc.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, Outdoor Authority MN, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI.