Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.


Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122

Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)


Yamaha Motor Corp North Dakota Team Of The Year Goes To Matt Liebel and Tory Hill  


Finishing third at the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Mercury Marine North Dakota Championship assured Matthew Liebel, of Williston, and partner Tory Hill of Minot, the coveted honor of Yamaha Motor Corp. North Dakota Team Of The Year and that silky smooth Yamaha 9.9 kicker.

Their key to winning, and earning a berth in next May’s Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout at Bismarck/Mandan as it is so often, is consistency. And that’s the case with Liebel and Hill.

Liebel couldn’t remember the exact finishes, but these were close. They pulled down a 20th at Bismarck on the Missouri, which they “threw out” (another AIM Plus; some tournaments don’t allow this) of their total points, a 15th or so at Devils Lake One, a first place on Sakakawea, a 9th at Devils Lake Two, and a third at the Championship, also on Lake Sak, albeit a different location.

“I think AIM does this so more people in the circuit have a shot. To try to do all four here (the state after all is 400-plus miles at the horizontal) it’s tough. If there wasn’t a throwaway, we probably wouldn’t be Team Of The Year,” Liebel said.

And at least for that team, Liebel said that paying close attention to Team Of The Year standings is just not their style. Fishing is.

“We don’t pay much attention to it. We’re going into each tournament trying to win every one and Team Of The Year falls where it falls.

Even after we took the lead after the last Devils Lake event, we thought about it, but still, you’ve got to go fishing. Finally, about halfway through the day on Saturday I looked at Tory and said ‘I think someone’s really going to have to crush it to beat us and have a shot.’

“We stuck to our game plan. You stick to it and never give up on those fish. Both Devils Lake tournaments, I didn’t pre-fish them, and my partner pre-fished one. We just went fishing and caught what we caught and sometimes it works better that way,” Liebel continued.

“My dad always told me we’ll get our butts kicked, but just go out and go fishing, that’s all you can do. If you start second-guessing, you’ll never get on top, and that’s something that’s stuck with us. We just go fishing,” he said. However, he admitted that TOY has been in the back of his mind.

“Winning this honor has always been there, but it’s tough to win. It’s a nice thing to say, that you’re consistent. Any of these lakes and rivers can humble you. The (Missouri) river kinda did. But you put five fish on the card every day and that’s the name of the game,” Liebel continued.

Since he’s familiar with the Missouri, Liebel said he’s ready to go after that Yamaha-equipped Warrior boat at the shootout next year.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a little closer to travel. We aren’t super experienced on that area but it’s a river and a reservoir and that’s our forte. It’ll fish to our strengths and we’re definitely exited to fish for that boat again. We qualified the last two years and we’re looking to win that boat next year,” he said.

So here’s how it plays out for the rest of the field, AIM director Denny Fox said. Three teams that placed in the top five at the championship get invitations to the shootout. Because of that, invitations to the shootout are extended down to 8th place in Team Of The Year standings.

The other teams invited, and they’re looking pretty Bismarck-Mandan heavy, are: Matt Ristow and Lenny Eubanks. In third, more Bismarck competition in Dennis Bense and Andy Bachmeier. Fourth berth goes to Tommy Miller and Shawn Mertz, who also call Bismarck their home water. Fifth, it’s Todd DeBoer and Leon Leier, also from Bismarck. The sixth spot is gobbled up by Kyle Clifton and Jason Feldner, Minnewaukan.

Seventh spot? Alan Lick, Sawyer, and Jesse Eckroth, from um, you guessed it, Bismarck. The 8th place berth is filled by Cory Christensen, West Fargo, and Ernie Barnhard, Mandan.

That’s a pretty heavy Bismack-Mandan-area tilt, but other teams, you can do it too.

What a season. But, there’s a repeat, just a few months away. Sharpen those hooks. Study those maps. Follow those forums. Ask the locals. You can do it. You can be in contention. You can be first. All you need to do is step forward and volunteer your knowledge, courage and confidence. And you too can be on the podium at another AIM Catch-Record-Release™ tournament.

We plan to keep you on the hook during the off-season with tips and other info to keep you revved for another season. Watch for upcoming info at AIM’s Facebook site. You CAN be a champion. For info on all AIM events, including how to register for next year, go to

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, LLC.

AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Gemini Sport Marketing, Treeland Resort, Anglers Avenue, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau

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