Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats Inc.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Wisconsin And Winnebago Are Next For AIM Sunday

As State Championship Looms For Teams   


With the Wisconsin State Championship in the background, and that coveted Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Team Of The Year (TOY) title also looming large, the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Garmin Open, the final Wisconsin Qualifier (July 16) on Lake Winnebago, is also on the minds of the teams entered in this nearly full event.

“We’ve got a pretty tight race for TOY, so you can bet that a lot of those in the running are planning to shoot for points, but ‘bago can produce, so the temptation to go for the win will also be there,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “The weather has also cooled a bit, and rain at midweek and prior to Sunday may help break up the algae bloom that always happens this time of year.”

One team with that TOY title on their minds is that of current leaders Dan Hobbs of Wisconsin Rapids and Steve Frederick of Kenosha. Hobbs was on the water pre-fishing when reached at mid-week. They’ll be in a Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat with Garmin among the electronics aboard. The lake’s algae was behaving, Hobbs said, as they were setting up for their first pass in a nice chop.

“It’s really looking good today,” Hobbs said. “We were out last weekend and got some decent ones but not a lot of them. The green is gone where we are right now.” He’s referring to the algae bloom that hits the lake this time of year. AIM tournaments have been won right in that soup, trolling, plus casting in the rocks, and in other spots before. He reports that the lake has been stingy giving up fish, but he’s hopeful.

“It’s been tough but that’s because it’s been so hot with no wind. We’ve got wind coming the next few days, so I expect it’ll be good Sunday, but who knows, it’s ‘bago,” Hobbs said. Usually, everybody’s favorite way to fish is best here.

“The mud’s been doing pretty good (that’s pretty much lake-center), but the rocks can fire at times. That’s what we’re on now so we’ll see what happens. There’s been some big weights. A few weeks ago, 52 pounds won a two-day tournament and another one-day last week that 18 or 19 won, so I suspect it’s going to be somewhere between 20 and 25 pounds” to get to the podium.

Since they’re the TOY leaders, will he go for it, or go for the points that will help keep them in the lead? Points for now, at least, he said.

“Right now, we’re fishing for points, but if we do really well pre-fishing, we may be fishing for the win. We’re not ahead by a lot so that’s why we’re fishing for points. There’s good teams right behind us,” Hobbs said. “We’re taking this one pretty seriously.”

Another team looking to score Sunday is that of Ben Schmoldt of Kewaskum and Jesse Denz of West Bend, who are hoping to come up big in their Mercury 250 Pro XS-powered boat on Sunday. Schmoldt won’t be on the water until Saturday, but he sounded pretty confident.

“We know what’s going on there. They’re getting fish trolling, or pretty much anything you’re doing’s getting fish, but there’s a lot of 17- to 19-inchers,” he said. Five of those probably won’t get it.

“You’re going to have to search for a school to get lucky. I’m just guessing it’ll take 20 to 23 pounds. We do a lot of trolling crankbaits and pulling harnesses. We’ll probably do some casting, but I don’t have the patience to sit there forever.”

And, he added, that’s the beauty of AIM’s pioneering Catch-Record-ReleaseÔ format.

“What’s nice about AIM is, you can measure them and throw the fish back. Measure every one of them. You’re going to need one or two kicker fish to be up towards the top,” he said.

“There’s a lot of algae bloom. I think if you have some pockets of clear water, I would like to find some and we’d be fishing the edges of the algae,” he said.

Denz was at the lake earlier to scout things out, but Schmoldt said the lake changes every day.

“You can have a bite today and tomorrow it’s not there. I don’t know if the rain will help or hurt. It might knock down some of the algae bloom, and you also might get some current in the river (at Oshkosh), which they haven’t had. If the current picks up, I think you will also have fish going back into the river.”

Gary and wife Grace Mongelli of Suamico will also be out there Sunday, as Grace battles metastasized lung cancer. He gave us permission to mention it, and also to say that Grace will be there because, he said, her motto is “never give up. Never quit.”

“Basically, she’ll be there to be doing what she’s doing, and the doctors are saying go for it and stay active, and to be able to talk about it is not a bad thing either,” Gary said. They’ll be on the water starting Thursday afternoon.

“Grace will fish with me, and Saturday I’ll be by myself, then we’ll be fishing Sunday,” he added. Sunday’s program will depend in part on the weather and water “thickness,” he said. Meaning, that algae bloom.

“If it’s giving me a little chop, I think I’ll be running some spinners very, very slowly, and I think we’ll probably be hunting single fish using my forward facing sonar,” he said. That means you may see him casting in the bow while Grace runs the planer boards.

“But, at the same time, if that doesn’t work, we’ll go to running crankbaits like Flicker Minnows and Flicker Shads. I’ll definitely be casting as we’re running spinners. I’ve done that on the Bay of Green Bay recently and it seemed to work,” he said.  All that might bring in the 18 to 20 pounds he said it will take to be in the running.

“We’ve done pretty good up there before. We came in second a couple of weeks ago in a tournament on Winnebago and lost by four-tenths of a pound. I’m even thinking about moving up the weight of what I’m casting to get through that thick algae,” he said, that sometimes is two inches deep in spots.

OK Wisconsin, here’s your lineup for Sunday. After Saturday’s online rules and registration meeting, boats start arriving at Menominee Park Boat Launch north of the Fox River’s mouth in Oshkosh at 5:30 a.m. Boats are released from the launch depending on starting order at 7 and 7:15 a.m. Teams must start returning at 3 and 3:15 p.m. or before. The awards ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at the park. Good luck all teams!

What’s next in AIM’s 2023 season? We head to Minnesota for the final Minnesota State qualifier on Otter Tail Lake July 30, with the Mercury Marine Minnesota State Championship Aug. 18-19 on Lake Winnibigoshish. Wisconsin, your Garmin/Navionics State Championship is on the Bay of Green Bay at the-always fishy Oconto on Aug. 25 and 26, and North Dakota, you’ve got a date with Lake Sakakawea at Beulah Sept. 8 and 9 for your championship.

But, the season’s not over yet, as we travel to the Mississippi at Clinton Iowa for the next Rivers Division qualifier Sept. 10. River rats, it’s all you from then on through your championship Oct. 21-22 on the river at Prairie du Chien, WI.

This weekend, stay tuned to AIM’s Facebook site for on-the-water action to see how teams are doing all day Sunday. Learn how you can register for those events, including the 2024 season, at

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, 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.

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