Previewing the AIM Championship at Akaska
Sep 6th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 6th, 2011 at 12:03 PM
The water is high, and AIM competitors are “aiming” high to have fun both on and off the water during the International Walleye Championship on September 15 to 17 in this welcoming prairie town just off the Missouri River.
According to Bill Waeckerle, Akaska booster and one of the tournament’s local organizers, the anglers should expect big weights each day thanks to the high water levels in Lake Oahe that are keeping fish in and around the Swan Creek launch where Pros will start each morning.
The town, as usual, is going all out to welcome the AIM Pro Anglers, co-anglers and AIM Sanctioned Series teams with some great South Dakota hospitality.
First, the water conditions.
“The lake is down about 6-feet from the flood conditions earlier in the summer, and it is still being drawn down (through gates at Oahe dam north of Pierre. ) I don’t think it will be down more than eight or nine feet total for the tournament, so fishing conditions should be relatively stable and excellent,” Waeckerle predicts.
At its peak drawdown in summer, more than 170,000 cubic feet of water flowed through Oahe’s gates each second. The lake levels need to eventually be drawn down around 15 feet, Waeckerle added, to make room for next spring’s snowmelt.
“The Pros can expect a lot of fish. When they can count their seven biggest fish here, because of the AIM Catch-Record-Release format, you can bet there will be some big weights,” he said.
In August, AIM Pro Chad Schilling won the South Dakota Walleye Classic with more than 71 pounds over three days. “You can imagine what the team could have weighed if they had been able to record their seven biggest instead of slot fish. A 100-pound three day total weight is certainly feasible this time,” he said.
“Guys fishing the Classic were going north instead of south to compete. We’ve got about 110 feet of water in the channel now and the abundance of bait throughout the entire system has made a big difference in opening up lake areas that normally would be bypassed in late summer.”
The AIM anglers will be pre-fishing the lake until 1:00 p.m. on September 14th.
During the tournament, they will leave the Swan Creek boat launch at 8 a.m. daily, and must be checked in by 4 p.m.
On the third day, fans on the Internet can follow the top five boats which will be equipped with GPS trackers. You can watch where they fish and their speeds, and see special on-water reports all day.
Waeckerle said that all events surrounding the championship will take place in the air-conditioned Akaska Community Center. The schedule includes:
• A casino night on Tuesday, Sept. 13, with a Texas Hold’em tournament and other fun.
• Wednesday is the last half-day of pre-fishing, followed by the tournament Rules Meeting.
• Thursday will feature walleye fishing clinic put on by local pros, and the Day One weigh-in.
• On Friday, there will be a fish fry following the Day Two weigh-in. Local organizers are hoping for an appearance by South Dakota’s Governor.
• This year’s AIM International Walleye Champion will be crowned on Saturday, followed by a fisherman’s ball and dinner at the Community Center.
These activities and the potential of huge baskets, will cap the 2011 AIM Pro Walleye Series season that began back in April with a blizzard in Wisconsin. Also, this final tournament will also determine the 2011 AIM JJ Keller Fishing Team Angler of the Year, who will be awarded a $10,000 check!
Tournament fans unable to attend the daily weigh-ins can follow all the action at www.aimfishing.com. In addition to the Day Three GPS tracking, each weigh-in is also broadcast live. The AIM C-R-R format will display the potential 100-pound limits of Lake Oahe walleyes, all of which are immediately released to be caught again by local angers. The website will feature live video updates throughout the day, along with interviews of the competitors.