Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 7, 2019
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
Your 2019 AIM Yamaha Motor Corp. USA North Dakota
Team of the Year: Justin Krieger, Rick Ellingson
To win Team Of The Year (TOY) in the AIM Weekend Walleye Series, it takes consistency. Not necessarily a first place in every qualifier, but consistently finishing high in each by doing your research on each body of water, choosing wisely and staying cool under pressure. Justin Krieger and Rick Ellingson are this year’s example of doing just that.
“This year, Rick and I decided we’d team up and give it a full effort,” Krieger said. They weren’t shooting to take all the qualifiers, or Team Of The Year, he said.
“We just wanted to see how well we did in each. We didn’t set out to win anything. Once we got in, we kept climbing. Grant (Grant Miller) had a real big lead and we didn’t think anyone would be able to catch him. I never thought we’d win it, but we did. It’s a pretty good honor to have.”
“In their first full year of AIM competition, the team from Williston went home from the 2019 Yamaha Motor Corp. North Dakota championship at Devils Lake with a brand new 9.9 Yamaha kicker, and that coveted berth in next year’s AIM Championship Shootout,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “Congratulations to them, and the other top finishers.”
Here’s how things shake out for the championship shootout qualifying, Fox explained.
“You don’t qualify in both the championship and Team of the Year standings. You don’t get 2 spots, It’s ‘either, or.’ If you end up in the top five at the state championship, and if you end up in the top five for Team of the Year, your championship finish qualifies you,” Fox said. “So if a team ends up in the top five at the championship, they get that spot and we fill the other 10 spots by going down the list for Team Of The Year.”
Got it? Now, back to the TOY winners.
Step One: Preparation
Sitting in second place in TOY standings coming into AIM’s North Dakota Championship on Devils Lake Aug. 2-3, one they’d never been on before. They started pre-fishing two days before the flag dropped Friday morning.
“It was a little windy and we drove around graphing, looking for rock piles to fish. We found the one Wednesday but didn’t fish it until Thursday afternoon, and caught some nice fish off it, and just decided that’s where we were going to be,” Krieger said. That pile they found was in East Devils Lake.
Step Two: Consistency
““So we spent two days slip bobbering and pulling spinners with crawlers and bobbers with minnows and leeches over it. Day One, we arrived at the spot and caught three within the first hour, a 23-incher, a 15, and a 23-1/2, and then another 15.5, and then things really slowed down,” he continued.
“We ground it out with bobbers, and ended up putting a 14-1/4-incher in, and around 11 decided to put on spinners, and caught a 19 and a 17-3/4, then went back to bobbering. Our total for the first day was just over 15 pounds,” he said.
Step Three: Stay with what brought ya
On Day Two, it was launch, drive, repeat. And most of all, have fun, and surprise yourself.
“We went right back there. We were the last boat out and nobody was there, and right when we got there I dropped a Jigging Rap and caught a 14, and two minutes later we caught a 28-1/2-incher on a minnow and slip bobbers, trolled over the rock pile at about .1 mph, to cover it.
“We were setting our slip bobbers about 1-1/2 to 2 feet off the bottom. We only got one fish on a leech in two days. The rest were on bobbers, on big minnows, seven to eight inches. I like to use four-inchers but my partner likes big, and he caught all those bigger fish,” he said.
Let’s put quotes around “minnows.” Krieger didn’t want to get specific on the record about type.
“When we were moving it seemed like we got’em. It seemed like that worked best. It was the first time we’d ever slip bobbered in a tournament. We’re Lake Sak (Sakakawea) guys. We’re always moving about .8,” he laughed. Their total for Day Two: 16.07 pounds.
“We knew we were in second for Team of The Year going in and it was going to be tough to catch Grant, and we knew he had to slip up for us to catch him. He gave it his best effort and we were just lucky enough to get it,” Krieger said.
What’ll they put that new Yamaha 9.9 four-stroke kicker on that they got for winning Team Of The Year?
“We might buy a little river boat and put it on there. It was a long summer of fishing. We fished water we’ve never touched before and were surprised to go to Devils Lake with two days of pre-fishing, never having a day on it before, and doing so well as we did. We didn’t expect to do as well,” Krieger said, the entire season.
And, they’ll be back next year, both for all four North Dakota state qualifiers, and that big national championship shootout at a water body to be named later.
We’ll see you all next year, when North Dakota’s rivers and lakes again warm, and the ‘eyes get mean and hungry. Join in, and be on the leading edge of the C-R-R wave in your state. AIM IS the way of the future.
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AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats, LLC.
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