Records Fall Both Days At AIM Wisconsin Championship; Becker, Rice Take It With A Stunning 112.73 Pounds
Sep 3rd, 2019 by Keith Worrall
Modified Sep 3rd, 2019 at 8:54 AM
Records Fall Both Days At AIM Wisconsin Championship; Becker, Rice Take It With A Stunning 112.73 Pounds
So what does nearly 113 pounds of walleye look like at the AIM Weekend Walleye Series Nitro Boats Wisconsin State Championship on Green Bay? Like about $12,300 and a spot in the next Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout, that’s what.
“Wow, did this just happen? We predicted possible record weights, and definitely had a record purse, but they sure grow’em big in this part of Wisconsin, and all our teams showed what kind of fish are in Green Bay off Marinette,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director.
“First, we broke the single day AIM record weight on the first day, set in 2014. Then it was broken again the same day. Then the AIM two-day record, set in 2015, was also beaten by more than 12 pounds. If you don’t plan yourself a walleye trip here, you’re missing out big time. We knew there were big fish to be had, but this is really special. You had to go down to 24th place to finally get below a 40-pound total for the event. Amazing.”
Here’s the tale of the cash register: The winners, Jake Becker, of Genoa City, and Chris Rice, of Burlington, took home a record AIM purse of $10,000. And since they did it in a Warrior Boat, they earned another $1,000. And since they used Garmin electronics to do it, they pocketed another $1,000. And, since they used Fox River rods to do it, they also cashed another $300 check. Grand total for another AIM record: $12,300. And they could add to the pot, because they’re in the running for the season’s final Navionics Big Fish Thursday award.
“I couldn’t believe it and still can’t. I never imagined it would have been us,” Becker said. And they did it all at a spot on the bay’s east shore along the Door Peninsula that he’d never fished until that week. They pre-fished the entire week to prepare.
“I had a pretty good idea of where we could catch some good fish, so I focused a lot on trying to find new water,” Becker said. “We went to one spot and didn’t catch a fish. So I think it was a couple days later and for whatever reason we were fishing a little farther south and I just had an image of that spot, and I knew it looked too stupid to not have anything there,” he continued.
They returned and caught one fish, about a 25-incher. Their teammates fishing there caught two and one was a 31. The teammates decided to try a different spot on Day One, leaving Becker and Rice alone. They went there immediately and after a bumpy ride across, caught two right away using Shiver Minnows, a 28 and a 30.
“Then we went about an hour without catching any. The wind was blowing hard to shore, and we were fishing rocks offshore. In pre-fish, we made a trolling pass along the shore and the whole shore was rocks. It was probably 9 a.m., and we had a good idea of what the bottom looked like and we checked to see if there were fish.
Tip one from their experience: wind and waves blow bait towards shore, and guess where the bigs also go? You got it. And, they got them.
“We went in and it was within a half-hour and we had six fish, and about 56 pounds,” Becker said. “We saw only one boat the first day. One of the first five was only 26, and we upgraded with a 29-1/2. We had all our fish in the first two hours. We left that spot and just pre-fished the rest of the day. We had three over 30 inches, with the biggest a 31.”
And most, he said, were out of less than 10 feet of water. Normally, he said, that’s not the case on Green Bay. “We’ve never even fished that shallow. We started making casts and each time we casted closer to shore we caught more fish,” he said.
They were going out in second place on Day Two. “Most people knew the guys in front of us (Tyler Nickel and Korey Sprengel, who eventually finished 9th),” he said. “I knew we couldn’t take our foot off the throttle.”
They arrived at their spot with one goal, he said: “Just get fish into the boat was our mindset.” What happened? The opposite. “The first four we had hooked came off. At that point my stomach started to sink. We were on a big fish spot, we were five bites away, and we have only caught one.” Then with a slight adjustment, things turned around.
“We changed our cadence to work the Shiver Minnows (had to have at least a bit of purple, he said) and slowed things down,” he said. Becker went to the stern where Rice was catching fish, and he couldn’t, standing right next to him, using the same lure. But as Saturday’s wind and waves calmed, he looked down. He saw current. He quickly surmised that now, the fish were not relating to the waves, but to that slight current. And once they changed how they casted, hopped and bobbed those Moonshines, things went from bad, to wow.
“Once we figured out where they were positioned, both of us were going back and forth, catching fish,” he said. More than 20 walleyes later, every fish they had were over 28 inches, including one they didn’t bother weighing, they had so many bigger ones. “For a day that started out as bad as it did, to just end it how we did, it was like it wasn’t even real,” he said.
That day, the first fish Rice landed was a 31. Then Becker landed a 31. The other three they scored, not one was under 29. They stayed on the spot, constantly upgrading, as if they had to. They left early because he figured they had at least secured second. But the competition was good.
“All these guys in AIM are so good that we just went out and were determined to get at least what we did the day before,” Becker said. And, they did. Their first day total was 56.23 pounds, and the second, 56.50 pounds. They’d won by 16.55 pounds. And those good friends who didn’t disturb that spot?
They finished third. Again, what a way to end the season.
The second place team of Shawn Kahut of Fond du Lac, and Brett Walser, of St. Cloud, also used one-ounce Moonshine Shiver Minnows (they had to have at least some purple, too) to land 96.18 pounds of “hawgeye” that earned them $5,000. They also used Garmin electronics. And, since they did it in a Nitro ZV21, powered by a Mercury 350 Verado, they will also be looking for another $500 in contingency cash from Nitro in their mailbox soon.
Kahut spent the last two weeks prior to the championship plumbing Green Bay for fish, first to prepare for the local Battle On The Bay tournament, where he also took second, then to gear up for AIM.
“We pretty much fished a lot of community spots, and one day we went off adventuring and went ‘Shiver Minnowing’,” Kahut said.(Shivering, as its commonly called, lol) The fish in most of those known spots had been worked over pretty well, so he was rewarded by exploring. “It was a matter of getting away from those spots and finding our own schools. I found a little school away from them and didn’t know how big it was.”
We ended up getting two big fish in the last couple minutes of the tournament Friday, a 29 and a 28,” Kahut said. At the end of Day One, they sat in sixth place.
Day Two, they ran the same program, he said. “We ran to Horseshoe Reef (The Horseshoe Reefs, northeast of Chambers Island, northwest of the Door Peninsula) and started working our way back. So many community spots were being hit, it put a damper on fishing. At 11, we ran down where we ended the day before and started ‘shivering’ with those Moonshine Shiver Minnows, and the fish were still there.” That pod of fish brought them second place.
They worked their Shiver Minnows, sometimes fast, sometimes a slow pop, he said. Jig it too slow, and you’ll get gobies. Color was key. “We rambled through a bunch, and found it’s got to have purple in it,” Kahut said.
Then it was the same deal. Hang on, and wait for it. With three minutes to go, they hit the jackpot. Walser hooked a 30-3/4-incher, and Kahut followed up with a 30-(only a 30?) inch hawg.
“We literally put our rods down and came in with three minutes to spare,” Kahut said. They, too, are headed to next season’s AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout.
“That’s what we were shooting for,” he added. Their consistency, with 44.19 pounds, followed by 51.99 on Day Two, is what brought them there.
In third place, Tyler Mueller, of Appleton, and Dylan Koehler, Hortonville, landed “only” 94.95 pounds, good for $4,000, and a shot at that championship prize, a new Warrior boat with a Yamaha four-stroke and Garmin electronics. Fourth and $2,500, plus a Shootout shot, went to Anthony Englebert, Little Chute, and Dylan Peotter, Kaukauna, with “just” 89.26 pounds. In fifth, with a “mere” 84.04 pounds, for $1,700 and another shootout berth, were Tommy Kemos, Oconomowoc, and Telly Kemos, Lisbon.
What a way to finish a fantastic season. The top five championship teams catching and releasing—thanks to AIM’s Catch-Record-Release® format, nearly 500 pounds of future spawning walleye in two days, sent back alive to the same water they came from to produce even more fish for Green Bay .
Multiply that by the fish returned safe and alive during AIM’s four qualifying tournaments that began way back in early April, and AIM is ensuring that future generations of anglers across Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota will have fish to try for, whether it’s for the pan, for fun, or for tournaments like the AIM Weekend Walleye Series.
And teams and Fan Nation, you’re the drivers of it all. Without you, it couldn’t happen. Without you, we couldn’t spread the word about our sponsors, the lakes and rivers we spotlight with our tournaments, and spread the word about AIM’s C-R-R philosophy, which is gaining traction each time we visit a lake or river, and each time you get the word out about our unique resource-saving format. People see how we do this, how we educate our followers, and you spread the word and how AIM rewards both our teams and the communities we visit.
We’re already looking forward to 2020, and even more fantastic adventures, and fantastic numbers of fish released starting all over again next April. Stay tuned, as usual, on our Facebook page and aimfishing.com for Navionics Big Fish Thursday, Tales of the Tape interviews throughout the winter, and the announcement of next year’s location of the 2020 AIM Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout.
Visit our website for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register for any AIM qualifier event in 2020.
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.