Brett King Claims Crown at AIM Pro Walleye Series Tournament on Green Bay
Jul 15th, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jul 15th, 2009 at 12:00 AM
Brett King claimed his first major tournament victory in the AIM event on Green Bay July 2-4 by planning his strategy and then working his plan.
The victory came after the three most consistent catches of any competitor, proving that steadiness yields success. Brett found himself in 2nd place behind Chad Schilling after Day One. Chad wowed the crowd with the largest seven fish limit of 32.22 pounds. But Brett was lurking close behind with 31.77 pounds.
On Day Two, Chad Schilling stumbled and Dennis Gulau surged into the lead with a catch of 29.75 pounds. But Brett flew just under the radar with another seven fish limit totaling 28.64 pounds, again putting him in second place overall – this time only 0.19 pounds (that is, about 3 ounces) behind Gulau.
When Robert Blosser came to the AIM stage after Day Three with a whopping 34.58 pounds he vaulted into the lead, and waited patiently in the “Hot Seat” for the last two anglers to weigh in. The first place curse caught up to Dennis Gulau, who struggled to bring in 18.57 pounds. The pressure was on Brett King, but he was up to the challenge and electrified the crowd with another big limit weighing 31.14 pounds.
Kings three day total equaled 91.55 pounds and was more than four pounds ahead of Robert Blosser who settled for second place. While decreasing weights are the norm in most tournaments, Brett was able to overcome fishing pressure and media pressure to put together three days of winning weights. He was quick to give credit to the improving weather, as well.
Singing the Cold Front Blues
One after another, the AIM Pro Anglers gave the same fishing report: “You should have been here last week!” Late June brought sultry temperatures in the high 80’s that turned on the bigger fish far out in Green Bay. But the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Wisconsin, just wait 15 minutes.” Actually, the Pros were getting spoiled by several days of steady clear and warm weather – AND great fishing. Many reports of ten-pounders being caught were whispered.
And then a big cold front blew through. On the Sunday and Monday before the tournament temperatures struggled to reach 60 degrees and the wind blew hard out of the north-northwest. The resulting churning dropped the water temperature by over 15 degrees and put the big walleyes into a feeding funk.
It was one of these “blow days” that proved to be the difference for Brett. Not one to languish in a motel room, he headed into the protected waters of University Bay. Partially screened by Frying Pan Shoal, the shallow “Inner Bay” was less affected by the high winds. Brett and his practice partner John Tennessen quickly found the resident walleyes still “on the bite”.
Most predictions – before the Big Chill – centered on a steady diet of crawler harnesses for big Green Bay walleyes in July. The tournament results showed that many Pros struggled to bring in their seven walleyes during the tournament (fishing memories?) But Brett deviated from the norm and started trolling crank baits in the Inner Bay, and the walleyes responded.
The Winning Presentation
“I love live bait rigging, being a Minnesota fisherman,” said Brett. “But I love to troll, too. I gave crawler harnesses a good try, and they produced fish early in the week. But once the water cooled and the bite slowed it actually became more productive to speed up and troll crank baits.”
Brett added that there were three huge advantages that trolling crank baits provided. “First, I was in the same general area as dozens of tournament boats and local anglers. But I was covering twice as much water as the slow harness trollers, and that meant dragging my baits past at least twice as many walleyes! Then second, I found that the higher speed reduced my catches of ‘junk fish’ like sheepshead and white perch. With crawlers it was literally hard to keep lines in the water with continual bites from the rough fish in addition to the walleyes. Third, everyday I was able to catch one or two more big walleyes trolling cranks. Do cranks select for bigger fish? In this event they did!”
Location, Location, Location
“After I dialed in the bite in University Bay I was shocked to see almost the whole field race north to deeper water on Day One. I started near the back of the field and only three boats turned into the Inner Bay. I remember commenting to my Co-angler that I maybe just blew it.”
But as the day wore on, more and more boats limped back to University Bay and some had little or nothing to show for their long boat ride to the deeper waters out in the main bay. The prevalent strategy to gamble for big fish was unraveling and several Pros scratched for a limit as time ran out.
“I probably worked my Co-angler to death on Day One,” said Brett. “The high winds of the previous days had stirred up all the weeds and debris along the shore and we had to continually haul in the Off Shore planer boards to clear them. Literally, if you weren’t catching a fish you had to reel in all four boards every five minutes or the bait was fouled.” Brett proved that sometimes a winning strategy comes down to just outworking the competition.
“Every day I concentrated on the same general area, less than five minutes from the launch site. I was crisscrossing lots of local boats, so I can’t say I was in a ‘secret spot’. The water depth varied from 6 to 12 feet, but I tried to skirt the little humps and ridges that sometimes rose to less than 6 feet. I compensated for the shallow depths by running my cranks only 10 to 15 feet behind the boards. This made catching each fish almost like hand-to-hand combat!”
“A combination of baits worked, including Berkeley Flicker Shads, Rapala Shad Raps, and Salmo Hornets – especially a custom painted yellow one that had better visibility in the churned water. I have to give some credit to my prefishing partner John Tennessen for helping to work out this productive presentation. I know it hurt him to not be pulling his JT Tackle blades but after my first day catch it was obvious what was working! ” John was able to move up to a strong ninth place finish by also switching to the same crank bait presentation.
The AIM Tournament Format
When asked about the AIM Catch-Record-Release™ format Brett responded, “CRR changed my overall strategy. While some Pros immediately went for the big ‘hogs’ I thought it was more important to record a strong limit first. CRR completely overcomes the ‘no cull’ rule so I knew I could ‘upgrade’ all day long. I made a run to deeper water on Day One and Day Two with limited success. As it turned out, the big fish dispersed and were hard to catch so a solid limit was the winning strategy. On Day Three I never left the Inner Bay.”
“This was my first event using CRR. I was a little apprehensive, but found the whole process to be really simple. As fast as my Co-angler and I could snap a few photos we released the walleye and went back to fishing. More than once we had two fish in the boat at the same time. I loved not having to babysit fish all day long – and suffer the inevitable dead fish penalties at the end of a long day in warm water.”
“I was also favorable impressed with the CRR process as being the most fair system I have ever seen. I am so tired of hearing Pros complain that they made a mistake early in the day by releasing a fish that they should have weighed. So the final results never reflect the actual fish caught, but the fish kept – more of a lottery than a fishing tournament. CRR eliminates no cull and slot limit headaches. I won because I caught the 21 biggest walleyes and that’s the way it should be!”
“I also have to say that the whole atmosphere of this AIM tournament was different than I am used to. The Pros knew the format was fair, and they also were assured that the rules would be evenly enforced. All the Pros seemed less tense and friendlier than I have experienced before. The smaller field probably contributed to this, but I think the equitable format added to the sense of friendly competition. You may know that I was one of the original AIM investors. After experiencing the AIM tournament format for the first time as a competitor, I can honestly say that I think we are headed in the right direction and that AIM is redefining competitive fishing.”
In response to the AIM Pro Track™ GPS tracking system, Brett commented, “GPS trails are a great addition to tournament coverage. My trail revealed my location, but it was hardly a secret. Anyone driving by could see me from the road! The GPS tracking didn’t reveal my presentation, however. I certainly don’t think that AIM Pro Track™ GPS tracking will hurt the fishery. A GPS trail is simply a one-time snap shot. As this tournament showed, walleyes are ‘here today, and gone tomorrow’. If you don’t move and adapt to their continual changing moods you are never guaranteed that you will catch anything!”
What’s Next for Brett King?
“Well I am plenty busy already!” Brett continued. “I own a small fleet of school buses that keep me running most of the year. And, of course, I also own Smooth Moves Seat Mounts and am happy to help sponsor the AIM Pro Walleye Series™. I’m sure happy to accept the first place payout of $28,200 but one win doesn’t change my life that much. I will continue to fish as many tournaments as I can fit into my calendar.”
Brett also mentioned his main sponsors. “I would like to acknowledge the help my sponsors have provided to my tournament efforts. First, my ‘office’ is my Tuffy boat which is powered by the super dependable Yamaha motors. Off Shore planer boards and Berkeley Flicker Shads were the foundations of my winning presentation. Lindy Little Joe tackle is a mainstay. And, of course, I couldn’t compete without the resources of Smooth Moves Seat Mounts behind me.”
“I want to thank the fans for coming out to the AIM weigh-in, and following the event online. I have received many encouraging emails. My family was able to make it over for the final day and it was special to have my kids join me on stage with the first place plaque.”