AIM Minnesota Warrior Results
May 6th, 2016 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 6th, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
Rippin’ lips on the Mississip: Ernst, Weidenhamer, find pocket of ‘walllogs,’ take first in Minn. Warrior Boats Open
Beating other anglers to a self-described well-known but “difficult place to fish” paid off big for AIM anglers Matt Ernst and Doug Weidenhamer, who pulled in nearly 37 pounds of walleye from the upper Mississippi to take this season’s AIM Minnesota opener, the Warrior Boats/Southside Marine Open.
Ernst, from North Oaks, Minnesota, and Weidenhammer, from Ham Lake, headed there because, Ernst said, “It’s 110 percent big fish spot. The smallest I’ve caught there is about 3 pounds, and there were a lot up to 10. It’s difficult because the current changes quite a bit, and you’ve got to know how to dice up each quadrant to fish it properly.”
They did, and they took home $6,500 after spending an entire day anchored up in their Yamaha-driven Ranger, because it was the only way to hold in the spot that delivered the goods: 36.79 pounds of walleye.
“We had a terrible pre-fishing, and this was the only spot where we found fish,” he said. It was either fight the flow or go to another area that would be probably crowded and roll the dice on whether you get the fish needed to make the cut. So, they chose the hard, but profitable route.
“There were two other good boats in the lock going through to that same area so I had to run my Yamaha as fast as I could to get there and block them off the spot. And, the water had come up 8 to 12 inches overnight, so we fished through the area, and had to move a bit upstream where the current was a little lighter. I ran my bow mount but couldn’t hold, so we had to anchor up and stayed in that position the whole morning. The pair began dunking quarter-ounce Rapala VMC jigs tipped with medium-large chub minnows.
Using St. Croix rods with extra fast tips to feel the jig ticking over the river gravel in an area with plenty of snags, they lost their first four fish.
All, Ernst said, were at least 26 inches or larger, including two that worked off hooks at the back of the boat, using that current.
“We ended up boating our first, a 26, and our next probably around 25,” he said. As they landed that one, two dead stick rods got hit, leaving the pair to jump to light speed handling multiple fish at once.
“The next cast, we hooked a 23-1/2 or 24. It was almost like a school had moved up. We couldn’t get the lines in the water fast enough to catch up to them when they were hitting,” Ernst said. They’d filled their card with five fish within an hour starting around 9 a.m.
“We caught a couple more, and then it went quiet for about 1 ½-hours. But we stayed and lugged it out, sat and had lunch, caught a couple catfish, and about 12:25, my partner bumped a 29-incher, so I knew that was the one, so no one would be able to catch us unless someone would find them in Lake Pepin,” he continued. However, having pre-fished that area, he felt confident that they’d be in the running.
Ernst has a habit of finishing high in an AIM event. At last year’s Mississippi River event upstream, he placed second, and plans on fishing more AIM events.
“I like the Catch-Record-Release™ system. You can catch as many fish as you want to fill your card, and not go through the process of choosing only five to seven fish you can weigh. And, you can fish where you’re not allowed to keep walleyes. You just record them on your card, and release them, and the DNR is happy.”
Finishing in second was pro legend Tommy Skarlis, of Waukon, Iowa, and Keney Jarvis, of Wilton, North Dakota, finishing with 23.61 pounds and winning $2,100.
In third was the team of Marshall Wuensch, West Salem, Wisconsin, and William Schulz, Rochester, Minnesota, with 19.39 pounds, good for $1,600. Fourth place: Chad Bleeker, Ellsworth, Wisconsin, and Carl Stayberg, Hudson, Wisconsin, 18.60 pounds, $1,300. Fifth: Dean Block, Ramsey, Minnesota, and Brandon Smoley, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 18.52 pounds, $1,200.
Next up in the Minnesota division: Big Stone Lake, near Ortonville, on May 22.
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.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Navionics, Powrtran, Power-Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Off Shore Tackle, Team Lodge, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, National Fleet Graphics, Gemini Sport Marketing, 4 Bears Casino North Dakota.