Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 28, 2023
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Wing Dams May Be The Place To Win The Final
AIM Rivers Division Qualifier On A Low Mississippi Sunday
With low river levels not seen in more than a decade, those wing dams famous for holding walleyes may just be the best place to be Sunday (Oct. 1), as the final AIM Weekend Walleye Series Rivers Division qualifier of the season heads to Dubuque with less than two weeks to go before the Division Championship.
“Those who’ve followed AIM’s divisions in the past knew that until this year, the season would have been a wrap about two weeks ago, but Fan Nation, we’ve got two more fishing weekends for you to follow, and this one looks like it will certainly be challenging for even the most seasoned river rat,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director.
“We had to shift this tournament to now from the spring when the river was the exact opposite, and high water was the issue. The Mississippi level near Dubuque is way down even for fall, so that might concentrate fish at those wing dams that every river angler knows about. The river is forecast to rise a bit though, and that could also affect where those winning fish will hang out.
“We’ve also got a real barn-burner for the top five spots in the Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Team Of The Year standings, so this one may also change that picture big time.”
That’s the message from two teams contacted prior to Sunday, who both say most of their fellow anglers will be hot on those wing dams. Right now, only 19 points and change separate the second from eighth place in TOY points, as they shoot to qualify for the 2024 AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout.
Paul DeVoss and 23-year-old daughter Katherine, both of Prairie Du Chien, are river tournament regulars. His daughter has been fishing with him on the river since age 13.
They’ll be in a Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat, and he’s hoping that the predicted cooler weather may prove a positive.
“The water’s starting to cool, so fishing’s still a little slow from what I’m hearing. It should start getting better here pretty quick. If we get cool nights this week, that should really start to pick it up. It should be a fun bite,” Paul DeVoss said.
With willow cats a bit more available in this nearly 80-mile stretch of river, they’re back on the menu for teams.
“I think it’s going to be throwing cranks and willow cats and pitching jigs in the wing dam areas, rock piles and eddies,” he said. He’ll start pre-fishing hopefully today, Wednesday, he said.
“I’m actually going to try to fish in that pool (Pool 12, where the tournament launches), but I’ll also check the pool above (Pool 11). They’re saying the water’s going to come up. They got a lot of rain in Red Wing (Minnesota). The water’s just way too low,” he said, and a flush of more current, even a little bit, might start stirring fish.
“In late summer, wing dams and up at the dam will start to do better. The fish will start moving towards that,” he said. However, he’s predicting that someone will know how and where to find the 35 to 40 pounds he predicts will be needed to win. They’re currently in 15th place in Team Of The Year, and hoping to move up.
It would however take them a bunch to catch the current second place TOY team of Brad Seidel of Genoa, WI and Matt Thompson of Stoddard. They’ll be under Mercury 350 Verado power. Thompson spoke for the pair, saying that fall on the Mississippi presents totally different challenges than high water spring fishing.
“I would say that it all depends on the river state. When you have a high stage, the fish are so much easier to catch,” Thompson said. “They get pushed close to shore and in the current seams, and when the water’s low, they could be anywhere.
“Sometimes you’ll find a bunch of females schooled up and you can pluck them out in a few minutes and have 30 pounds. And you could hit a wing dam right now and catch a fish on your first cast, and not catch another,” he said. But, he’s going with wing dams to win.
“Someone will win on a wing dam this week, I’ll have to put money on it. I was out in the Guttenberg pool Friday (Sept. 22). It wasn’t the best but the weather conditions weren’t the greatest either. We caught a couple but nothing great. We’ll fish pretty hard Friday from sunrise to sunset and hopefully we’ll know where we want to go. We’ve fished this stretch the last four years together, me and Brad, and we’ve been successful,” he said.
He’s also expecting willow cats will probably take the winning weight of between 30 and 34 pounds.
“Our main goal is to stay in that top five. We usually don’t pre-fish really hard, but we’re going to have to make sure we have a few different spots, and boat number (meaning what order you start) means everything on the river.
“Each wing dam has a sweet spot in it. We’ve had some down in the Clinton area where there was just a 10-foot stretch, and we couldn’t catch’em on either side of it,” he said.
Which team on this massive stretch of water will find those sweet spots to win this final qualifier of the season will be determined Sunday afternoon. After Saturday’s online rules meeting, it’s game on, with boat inspections starting at 5:30 a.m. at the launch point, Schmitt Harbor, just off the Great River Road scenic highway in Dubuque.
Teams will be released starting at 7 a.m. and must return starting at 3 p.m. Awards will take place at the launch area starting at 4 p.m.’ish, so get there early. Good luck all teams!
Fan Nation, next up in AIM Walleye World after this one is the Rivers Division championship and Team Of The Year battle Oct. 21-22 on the river in pools 9, 10 and 11, based from Prairie du Chien, WI.
Want to jump in? Welcome aboard! We’re waiting for ya. Make that leap in early 2024, when registration opens for the entire 2024 qualifier season in AIM’s four divisions. Learn how at aimfishing.com.
We’ll also be announcing the location of the 2024 AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout after the New Year.
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 www.aimfishing.com.
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 fish house rentals, Island Bar and Grill, Bait Box on the Rock, Oconto County WI, Odyssey Battery.