Leech Lake is Ready For AIM’s Return
Jul 9th, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jul 9th, 2020 at 11:14 AM
Leech Is Ready For AIM’s Return With A Minnesota Weekend Double-Play
Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
July 9, 2020
The weather’s hot, hot, hot, and fishing sounds like it will be too both Saturday and Sunday when the AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Warrior Boats Open arrives on Leech Lake in a double-header qualifier weekend that could see two 40-pound days.
“We’ve got two full fields for these back-to-back qualifiers, meaning two teams, or maybe even one, will go home with $9,000 checks for each day,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “We’ve also got local sponsors for each event. The Warrior Boats/ Highway Three Marine Open is Saturday, and it’s the Warrior Boats/ Musky House Open Sunday, plus Chase On The Lake Resort right on Walker Bay, where many of the teams say they’ll be fishing.”
The fishing as usual is hot, and we’re fired up and ready to give away some cash to the best sticks at this event.”
Four anglers who will be there this weekend all agree with Fox, that you’ll have to pull 30-plus pounds each day to have hopes of cashing a check, and 38 or more to be on the podium.
Jake Caughey of West Fargo, ND, will be there in his 2090 Warrior powered by a Mercury 250 Pro XS V-8. He won’t be on the water until Saturday due to work, but his partner will be there starting Thursday.
He’s kinda sounding like he likes the deep waters of Walker Bay this weekend. That of course depends on whether the fish like it, too.
“I don’t think it’ll be a secret to anyone, that I’ll probably be sticking it out in Walker,” Caughey chuckled. “It depends on where the big fish are going, and a lot of times it’s in Walker Bay where someone puts five together,” he said. He has at least four spots pegged including in Walker that he thinks could produce.
“They’re usually holding some this time of year and we’ll grind it out there. Someone will put up a big bag and we’re just hoping it will be us. I look forward to fishing Leech every year. AIM is a pretty competitive circuit. There’s a lot of super-talented anglers in AIM, and I knew that even if I was going to take it on the chin for a few years here, I knew it was going to make me a better angler, and with AIM’s Catch-Record-Release™ format you don’t have to babysit fish all day.”
Brad Neyens of Virginia, MN, will be partnering with his 11-year-old daughter on Saturday, then will be on the water Sunday with Brent Knutson. He’ll be pre-fishing starting Wednesday, and agrees with Caughey: Walker is the place.
“Tournaments are usually won in Walker. It’s about getting those five, six or seven good bites. We fish a lot of deep humps and points, but I might fish a little more weed lines on Saturday. I’ll probably be pulling Lindy rigs with big minnows and spinners with crawlers a little with my daughter, and pre-fishing I’m going to try pulling crankbaits. There’s a lot of fish to be caught here and with how hot it’s been you might be able to find’em pulling lead if you can find the right spots.
“Leadcore on Leech is a fun way but you can catch’em doing all different kinds. A few years ago, lead won it, and a year after that it was big minnows, and last year a few of the top five were pulling cranks.
“I think one day it will take 40 or 41 pounds and the next, maybe 38. Usually one team’s good for a 40-pound bag. It’s supposed to be calm so that might it harder to get’em, too. But I can’t wait. I’m excited to go fish with my daughter and then fish with my buddy,” Neyens said.
Chris Messerschmidt of Lino Lakes has fished AIM the last few years and has grown up fishing Leech. He’ll be in his Yamaha 250 SHO, and he’s heard the mayfly hatch as usual will provide an extra challenge to the teams.
“That could make a big difference on the main lake. What I’m actually looking at is spinners, with Slow Death. It will be a key. It’s more of ‘let’s try to match the hatch. If you can use something that’s squirming and spinning, that’s what I’m going to start with Thursday morning,” Messerschmidt said.
“Every year I have a list of waypoints I use. The fish usually are there and the question is what are they going to bite on. Is it going to be creek chubs, spinners, or what. I’ll wade through and see what works,” he said.
“I’ve heard from quite a few that it’s shallow weeds. Most people think when the water’s warm the fish will push out, and for a lot that’s true. The problem is if you want to find the bigger ones you have to go through some digging, out in the rocks and into the weeds, pitching, jigging or dragging a leech through them. I’m going to be in that mid to shallow structure.”
John Gildersleeve of Frazee will be pushing his Mercury 300 Pro XS-powered boat to the fish both days, and has been fishing tournaments on Leech more than 20 years, and he’s heard high surface temperatures and a big mayfly hatch may make things a bit tougher on the lake. He’s been on Leech the last two weekends.
“The big fish are kind of spread out, but someone will come in with a big bag in the upper 30s, and if someone gets on them it’ll be a 40-pound bag to win. We’ve been picking up some big fish here and there, from six feet to 55 feet so they’re really spread out,” Gildersleeve said.
“Typically then, you go to live bait and crawler harnesses, but you’ve also got a lot of small perch for bait so it’s not always about mayflies, so that’s where perch-colored cranks will dominate. In Leech you can catch fish on every presentation, even bobbers. There’s guys on the water right now as it warms up, Jigging Raps also have taken off, too.”
Lots of options. Lots of choices. But which will be the ones to do it? Find out both days this weekend at AIM’s Facebook page by following all the action on the water.
As usual, teams will depart both days in two waves beginning at 7 a.m. From Chase on the Lake’s docks, following the virtual rules and registration meetings the day prior to each event. Awards will be announced online at AIM’s Facebook page at approximately 6 p.m. each day. Details on all other upcoming state qualifiers are at the AIM website.
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 inc.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Garmin, Berkley, Abu-Garcia, Fenwick, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Quality Flow Systems, Gemini Sport Marketing, Oshkosh Visitors Bureau, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, McQuoids Inn.