Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Will the ‘Big Mo’ Produce At Bismarck? AIM North Dakota Season Opens With Potential For Big Weights


One never knows when you’re fishing walleye in the Great Plains, but Sunday’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats Open, the North Dakota season qualifier on the Missouri River at Bismarck, could be in the potential of absolutely huge spawning fish.

“In the last few years, fish over 16 pounds—that’s 16—have been caught in the stretch of river where AIM teams will be Sunday,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “The spawn is on, and that means those big mamas weighing close to that are looking for comfy spots in the river, which is low, and right now in great shape, but that could change. Lots of variables are at work, but I think we’ve got the potential for H-U-G-E Big Mo bags.”

That’s also the feeling from 2023 Yamaha Outboards  NoDak Team Of The Year captain Ross Grothe, who will be on the water Sunday with his son Roger, who helped get the job done last year to earn a spot in this year’s Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout taking place in North Dakota on Grothe’s home water, Lake Sakakawea.

Grothe has been on river in his Warrior 208 with Yamaha power and Garmin electronics since Wednesday, and will be with Roger Friday and Saturday, and of course, Sunday.

He’s reporting lots of wind (they grow that stuff here on the plains), low water, and yup, some big-uns, both pre- and post-spawn.

“It was an interesting day (Thursday). I went our early and the wind came up, but we are in the Great Plains, that’s to be expected. There are quite a few fish in the system,” Grothe said.

Now, as a walleye angler, you learn to read the water, and you also may be reading the “room” that Grothe is in right now. It could mean he’s found the fish. But, he’s not done picking his spots.

“They’re in the beginning to the middle of the spawn. We had a full moon last night or the night before, and we finally had some warmer weather,” he also reports. The 70-degree weather may be diving a bit come Sunday. Weather report predicts highs in the 40s and a 50 percent chance of rain.

That moon means the fish are chewing on other fish all night. “And they’re doing their business. Everything happens here so quickly as the water temperature warms and fish start migrating, and the food’s migrating as well,” he explained. That also means the waves of spawners you’ve read about in Wisconsin before.

“One day there will be nothing and the next it’s fast and furious. It’s a matter of finding spots that will hold fish, and they might be there today and not tomorrow,” he said. He’s rounding up potential spots so he and Roger will be on a milk run, picking fish off from spot to spot. He hopes.

“We had a couple decent ones today in the five or six-pound range, and smaller males as well. We’ve got two days left and our conditions will progressively get worse, with some rain to muddy the river up and wind and a cold front to top things off, but that’s tournament fishing,” Grothe said. “We’re doing our homework and we’ve eliminated some spots.”

Grothe’s predicting a hodge-podge of presentations will work, typical of walleye fishing hereabouts.  “Trolling cranks, also jigging and artificials, like Berkley Powerbait, or live bait have been the best possible,” he reported.

“The water level is really low and that’s part of the problem that may be holding up the migration. There are areas where it’s only 2-1/2- to three feet deep, but the current’s good. Through the winter, the river was about average and for some reason they (meaning the dam folks upstream) dropped it and didn’t let it come back, so that eliminates a lot of spots. This will be my fourth spring here and every time it’s been different,” he said. So, what about those Mo hawgs?

“You never know when you’re going to hit gold. If you can get a nice school of females moving up, it only takes five bites, and you’re a hero,” Grothe said. “Roger is all fired up. He doesn’t have school so he’s going to get in two days of fishing and more important, we’re going to have a good time and take it as a learning experience if nothing else.”

We’ll learn who wins this and takes the lead in North Dakota TOY points come Sunday at Graner Park south of Bismarck on the river’s Mandan, or west side.

Now, a bit of plains-speak. Graner Park is also called Graner Bottoms. It’s also called Graner Park at Sugarloaf Bottoms. Take your pick, locals say. Whatever you call it, AIM teams will arrive there for boat inspection starting at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, with the online registration and rules meeting Saturday evening starting at 7 p.m. Boats will get the “go” starting at 7 a.m. Sunday, and must be back at the park boat launch by 3 p.m. The awards ceremony takes place after. Follow what’s happening on the water and watch who wins at AIM’s Facebook page. Good luck, all teams!

North Dakota teams, and Fan Nation, you’re next in the water Sunday, May 12, at Lake Audubon, a part of the Sakakawea system. May 19, it’s Wisconsin’s turn on the Bay of Green Bay at Oconto. They’ve got company the same day as an AIM twofer pushes off with another, in Minnesota on Big Stone Lake. Rivers Division, you’ve got to wait til June 23, so hang in there and enjoy watching and learn what the other divisions bring in.

Fan Nation, and teams wondering whether you should join in the fun, remember. This is YOUR tournament. It’s designed on purpose for working folks so you can practice on Friday and/or Saturday, fish and win Sundays, and go back to work Monday. Get in on any or all four divisions by going to to learn how.

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.

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

AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats inc. 

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Gemini Sport Marketing, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn, Rosemore Outdoor Gear, Outdoor Authority fish house rentals, Adventure Recreational Finance, Oconto County WI., Forever Barnwood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed