The Only Thing That Stays The Same…
Jun 13th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 20th, 2018 at 6:50 AM
Is that everything changes. It has to be frustrating being a competitive angler, yet at the same time, who’s complaining? If the height of your work stress is concerning whether or not a stable pattern will remain until tournament day or not, life is good, yes? Well, in all reality when competitive anglers have put days upon days into developing a game plan and there is a big plate of cash at stake, stress DOES become part of the game!
Such was the case at the recent AIM Bay Mills Invitational Walleye Tournament, hosted by the Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley, Michigan. $40,000 in cash – actual stacks of $100 dollar bills – awaited the winner. Talk about stress!
What makes the best walleye anglers in the world the best is not their ability to catch quality fish under ideal conditions. Conversely, it’s their ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, abandon their original game plan and STILL put a quality limit together. Another common cliché refers to the best-laid plans… Because of the constantly changing fishing conditions during any time of the year it is a good idea to prepare in advance Plans B, C, D, E, F and so on.
During the 2011 Bay Mills Invitational, Brett King noticed a few minor factors that seemed to be triggering the bigger fish. He implemented what he found and managed to maintain the lead on all three days of this event. On his final day, he only weighed a little over 4 pounds, but still blew the competition out of the water by a substantial margin.
The Eastern Lake Superior system and related waters is a complex walleye fishery and those who have experience fishing it know things can change for the better or for the worse in the blink of an eye. There is no substitute for time on the water, but remaining flexible and willing to adapt is key to cashing a check.
“Generally speaking the pre-fishing was tough,” explains the 2011 AIM Bay Mills Invitational Champion, Brett King. “We got some stuff going clear south in the St Mary’s River, and in some of the Canadian bays as well. There were many other factors affecting how we implemented our strategy, such as locking through the Soo Locks and longer daily runs. This is another fine example of how AIM’s Catch Record Release (CRR) format can really benefit an angler’s efforts to maximize their catch.”
“As things usually go, the weather and water conditions were set to change,” King continues. “I exhausted Plans A and B and it was time to investigate Plan C on the Charlotte River, which is a very tiny inlet river to the St. Mary. I headed in that direction knowing that I could put together at least a limit of 12 to 15 inchers. My trolling plan’s success was dependant upon other fishing pressure in that area. I knew that if other anglers were in there pitching jigs or casting cranks, it would mess up my chances.”
King was the last boat to leave his original area and head towards the Charlotte River. He knew for a fact, his teammates, Joe Okada and Robert Blosser were fishing in the river. He had also watched Tom Kemos enter the Charlotte, which could potentially team members Keith Kavajecz and Chase Parsons could also be there. King knew the odds were against him finding the fish he needed amongst numerous boats in the same location. So he decided to turn to Plan D and headed back into Lake George instead.
“I caught three fish there during practice and knew it was my best chance,” the Mercury pro said. “I put two planer boards and two long lines out, and almost immediately one of the boards took off. As I am removing the board from my line, the board on the opposite side of the boat takes off. After we landed the first, we managed to get the second fish in as well and we had two very nice walleyes in the boat in a matter of minutes.”
“Just as I finished photographing and recording my second fish, I remember looking up and seeing one of my long line rods bent over,” he continues. “We weren’t moving so I knew a fish was on the end of that line. I just happen to look at the GPS and noticed I was going .8 miles per hour when that fish hit. The water was cold, in the low 50s and a light bulb came on in my head. Colder water typically means less active fish, and it became obvious that I needed to slow things down.”
King made a couple more passes that put a couple more fish in the boat, the smallest being 19 3/4 – inches. He made a few more passes that produced no fish and was starting to become concerned with his remaining time knowing he had to lock back up stream before returning to Bay Mills. In addition, he was concerned that he had used more fuel than anticipated by making the long sweep into Lake George and therefore getting back to the launch was a concern.
“Finally, at 2:10 PM, I had two boards go back at once and put my 6th and 7th walleyes in the boat,” he continues. “After we photographed and recorded those last two fish, we packed it up and headed for the lock. We ended day one in first place with a little over 26 pounds. I was beyond happy about that, especially since it went down to the wire the way it did. It was a total gut check for me that day to just go fishing or settle for a less than adequate limit. Fortunately it paid off!”
Day Two found King headed back to the same location. The walleyes cooperated and he was able to put ten quality fish in the boat before 10:30 AM. His second day weight was even better than on Day One, with just over 29 pounds. He then chose to stay in the vicinity for the remainder of the day with intentions to guard the spot. The majority of the field bombed the first day and was really hopping around during Day Two scrambling to find fish. King finished Day Two with a commanding 22-pound lead over Robert Blosser in second place.
“Day Three was a different story for us as our pattern fell apart due to a series of storms that moved through a couple hours before the take off. We were only able to put a little over four pounds in the boat,” King continued. I got pretty discouraged knowing how good the bite had been only to see it almost completely disintegrate.
Fortunately, and thanks to my Day Two weight, I was able to hang on to first place. To make the victory even sweeter, my teammates, Joe Okada and Robert Blosser took second and third in this event respectively.”
King was trolling stick-style baits while most of the other anglers were using a shad imitation. This bait selection allowed him to troll more slowly and trigger the cold water walleyes. The winning pattern also allowed him to take home a silver platter loaded with $40,000 in cash from the Bay Mills Resort and Casino, who partnered with AIM in this event to sweeten the purse. Never do these events pay out in cash, but King said it made the victory that much more memorable. This is his second AIM Pro Walleye Series victory and he felt it revalidated his place in this series. He says winning one is possible, but being consistent and winning multiple events is the hard part.
‘The Bay Mills community was great as everywhere we went we were treated very well,” King explains. “We were able to enjoy a tremendous fishery during a great time of year and I couldn’t have asked for a better finish. The money is great and we will enjoy it, but it will eventually be spent. The special walleye replica trophy that Rod Jones had created is absolutely beautiful, and the title that comes with it is what means the most to me. No one can ever take that away and it is a fine representation of all the hard work and dedication that is apart of competing at this level.”
Its not too often an angler can beat the competition by such a margin, but when it does happen it makes for a very memorable event. Brett King, Joe Okada, and Robert Blosser swept the event and sent the competition home scratching their heads as to what tactic put fish in their boats. It was a tough bite, but the top ten produced the results needed to finish well, and that is something to be proud of.
The Top Ten finishers at the Bay Mills Invitational were:
1st – Brett King with 60.21 pounds
2nd – Joe Okada with 49.33
3rd – Robert Blosser with 43.9
4th – Mike Gofron with 37.62
5th – Ross Grothe with 32.78
6th – Ron Gordon with 31.41
7th – Tommy Skarlis with 31.14
8th – Keith Kavajecz with 25.72
9th – Dane Stanaway with 25.69
10th – Jim Carroll with 25.3
King is sponsored by National Fleet Graphics, Mercury Marine, Uncle Josh, JT Custom Tackle, Lakemaster, and Smooth Moves Seat Mounts.
The next AIM Pro Walleye Series event is taking place in Dubuque, Iowa on the Mississippi River, June 22nd through the 24th. This is bound to be an incredible tournament because this portion of the river is very restricted and has not seen a walleye tournament in many years. The AIM CRR format has made this fishery available to competitive angling again and is sure to be one of the season’s finest events! More information can be found at www.aimfishing.com, where fans can also watch the daily weigh-ins live via streaming video coverage.