Rigging chubs and jigging shiners was the hot ticket for Dan Baker and Shawn Lura to take the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Kovash Marine Open on Minnesota’s Ottertail Lake, earning them $6,500 for 25.23 pounds of walleye.
“This lake’s flats seemed to be the place this early in the season to find the fish,” said AWWS National Tournament Director Denny Fox. And Baker, from Frazee, MN, and partner Lura, from Hawley, MN agreed, as the pair concentrated on the breaks on Ottertail’s north side to put together the winning pattern.
Most of their fish came on rigging chubs, Baker said. “We caught a couple of fish jigging but none that stayed on our card. It seemed the smaller fish were biting on our jigs with shiners.” So when they tried rigging, it was the way to go.
“Our best fish came from 11 feet and out to 15 feet. We tried five spots, and we had a 27 and a 26-incher five minutes apart out of 12 feet of water,” he said. “Only one of us was fishing at the time because we had loons under the boat, as Shawn set the hook on the 27-incher. I think the walleye and loons were working together. He caught the 26-incher about five minutes before that, and he said that the second was a bigger fish.”
Their other fish, he said, ranged from 19 to 23 inches, all from those flats. “The break lines of the flats on the north side of the lake. There’s a lot of flat water there before it breaks into deeper,” he said.
True to the lake’s cold temps and a late ice-out, the fishing seemed to turn on around noon when the water warmed, Baker said. “It would take off, and we caught more of our fish as the day went on.”
“Coming in, we were confident we had a good bag, but didn’t know if we were going to win. When everyone was waiting, we heard about a lot of 16, 17, and 18-pound bags but never heard of anything over 20.”
That’s what’s great about AIM’s Catch-Record-ReleaseTM format. “The one with the biggest bag is the winner and there’s no loss of the fish. That 27 we caught at 11 a.m., if it had to sit in the live well four or five hours, you hate to see fish getting stressed out like that,” Baker added.
Baker’s only regret? Not signing up for the Warrior Cash optional to Warrior Boat Owners. That extra check would have been his for winning this tourney in his 2090 Warrior. “That’s one of the things I didn’t get done. It was also my sponsor’s tournament (Kovash Marine), so he was pretty excited about that,” Baker added. That may be remedied in the next three tournaments. Both Baker and Lura will be fishing all four Minnesota qualifiers.
Finishing in second with 19.96 pounds and earning a $2,200 check were brothers Travis and Jake Owens, both of Wahpeton, ND. Not bad for their first AIM tournament.
“We fish a lot of tournaments on Ottertail, and it being there, we wanted in,” Travis said. “Pre- fishing, we had a little wind and fished Friday and Saturday, and then it switched to non- existent, so we knew some spots that would be decent,” he continued.
“We started setting up deep and pitching jigs and minnows, then went to rigging shallow with chubs, and had five fish on the card by 11 a.m., but we needed to upgrade, and decided to check one area that’s good later, and they were there,” he added.
They caught two, a 24 and a 21-3/4-incher. “We really didn’t think we’d be in the top 10. We didn’t know what we had for weight because we were fishing up to the last minute. We added up the card and we then figured we’d be in the top 10 because 19 is pretty good weight for the lake, but that 25.23, that’s a dang good weight. If you have 20 pounds or so you’re sitting pretty good there,” Travis added.
He agreed with the winners that C-R-R is the way to go. “I think every tournament should be that way. It’s easier on the fish and the fishermen because you’re not stressing out trying to keep fish alive, and it’s good for the system.”
In third place with 16.94 pounds and $1,700 richer were Dave Bonsack, Gibbon, MN, and son Jake Bonsack, Royalton, MN. Fourth went to Dave Longtine, West Fargo, ND, and Brian Halvorson, Dilworth, MN, with 16.80 pounds, good for $1,300. Fifth place went to Tyler Wolden and Nate Leininger, both of Miltona, MN. They carded 16.75 pounds, for $1,200.
The next Minnesota gig will be June 10 on 132,000-acre Mille Lacs. Next up, however, is that big payday for one team June 1-2 during the AIM/Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout
on Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage at beautiful Treland Resort, with that Warrior 1898DC powered by a 150 Yamaha four-stroke and with a Garmin electronics package at stake.
Follow all the action next week, and on June 10 and the remaining Minnesota events at AIM’s Facebook page, and Prochattrr.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIMTM) 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-ReleaseTM format which is integral to its dynamic events and unparalleled consumer engagement. For more information about AIMTM, AIM Pro Walleye SeriesTM, 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, LLC.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Garmin, Navionics, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, Gemini Sport Marketing, Treeland Resort, Anglers Avenue, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnow, JT Outdoors Products, Fox River Lures and Rods, Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau