AIM Tour Down to One Tournament this Season
Feb 5th, 2013 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Feb 5th, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Part 9, AIM in 2013
Author’s Note: The status of the walleye tournament world with a vision for the future will be explored throughout this series. Industry leaders, observers, participants (past and present), sponsors, professional and amateur anglers, host communities, marine and tackle manufacturers, and tournament organizers will share their wisdom and insights.
Part Nine is a look at the 2013 fishing season and how AIM fits into that tournament picture. AIM is Anglers Insight Marketing, an organization formed by about 75 pro walleye anglers five years ago. Their mission statement reads, “The creation of AIM was generated by concerned anglers and businessmen that felt they had some new ideas that could inject life into the sport.” The Catch-Record-Release practice instituted at AIM proved popular. Walleye tournaments were scheduled throughout the season and were not subject to restrictive slot limits. Photos of fish on official rulers were featured on big screens for the stage shows. The AIM mission statement also reads in part, “…goal of leading the way to new marketing standards and conservation minded tournament practices.”
Today, the future of AIM is uncertain. The AIM website is aimfishing.com, but the latest news is from last August when Sam Anderson and Rick Olson captured first and second respectively at Lake of the Woods. Mercury and Lund pulled their sponsorships this year according to board member Brett King.
He said, “It’s time for us to pull back, regroup, and plan one nice tournament this season.” Board member Mark Martin said plans are still tentative, but a permit is in the works for a July 18-20 event in Oconto, Wisconsin. A similar event was held on Green Bay last year, with each pro bringing a partner. The duo then drew a co-angler/amateur into their boat each competition day. “We drew a big response, and this format should attract about 100 boats this year,” Martin said.
King said, “We could have thrown out a full schedule and cancelled mid-season, but we’re industry people running this thing, and one big event will do this year.” He was impressed with the number of communities that have standing invitations for AIM. “We’ve never been told by any community they didn’t want us. They like the CRR format,” he said, and added, “People don’t understand the costs associated with CRR.”
Martin said, “I love our format. I will fish weigh-in circuits, but it’ll be hard to go back caring for fish in the livewell. CRR assures 100 percent survival, and there is much less stress worrying about fish in the boat.”
Acting as AIM interim executive director, King is fielding phone calls at 507-456-4130 and responding to emails at [email protected] Former AIM executive director Joe Baron served up until a few months ago. “Where we’re at is not for lack of effort,” King said, “I’m spending more time on this than my regular job.”
He remains optimistic, and said the board has been dealing with a group of investors considering their options of purchasing the organization. “The potential for these big-time hitters is real, and if it does happen, AIM will be alive and well,” King said. “I can’t believe how much time this all takes.”
Martin echoed King’s sentiments, and said, “For AIM to grow, we need major sponsors, and hopefully, the new owners will take the reins and charge ahead. We really need TV and a format like the PWT used to have.” Speaking of television exposure for the circuit and the pro anglers, he said, “If nobody knows about it, it didn’t happen. I wonder if we shouldn’t have spent our rainy-day fund on TV early-on. A tournament circuit definitely needs media behind it.”
He continued saying, “Hindsight is great. We had the money at one time with 75 investors each putting $5,000 into the pot. We expected sponsors to come aboard, but they wanted bang for their bucks. If we had money now, we’d know where to spend it.”
Looking at 2013, Martin said, “We could keep going, but guys exchanging money with minimal media and no money left for the AIM organization won’t work. That’s why one solid tournament with good payouts is planned. We will keep our hat in the ring this year.” For the latest details about Oconto, stay in touch with King.