Who’s Hot? Todd Riley!
Jan 7th, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jan 7th, 2010 at 12:00 AM
Todd Riley Earns ‘AIM Hot Pro’ Honors for 2009
Todd Riley achieved a milestone in the annals of competitive walleye fishing. He was the first man to win the Angler of the Year title and the Championship of the same circuit in the same year.
He did it in outstanding fashion during the 2009 AIM series. He started the season with an 11th place finish at Saginaw Bay, followed up with a set of top 10 finishes in South Dakota and Green Bay, and slammed the Championship field on Lake Winnibigoshish. He also won fifth place honors at the FLW Championship.
News and background of those tournaments, results, tactics and strategies are featured in news stories on the AIM and NPAA websites.
Todd lives in Amery, Wisconsin, and has been at the tournament game for about 20 years. When asked WHY he’s at the top of his game, he said, “Its’ strictly dedication and hard work, but after all these years, I feel wiser time management also plays a big role.”
After years of seasoning, Todd said he understands how to focus on areas. “For years, most of us would go to a tournament understanding what to look for. For instance, if it was a slot tournament, we searched high and low for the largest walleyes that fell just under the slot. Sometimes, we ran 40 miles to find the fattest fish of the same length, just to gain a few extra ounces.”
“With the AIM format of Catch-Record-Release, I was able to make significant adjustments. Numbers play a huge role, and I fish for quantity and am less concerned about locating just the one or two big ones over the slot needed to win.” Todd feels if he can key on a zone where he can hook up with 50 or more walleyes in a day, he should have some better fish mixed in with them. “Every fish counts now and I work my areas to maximize the number that come into my boat,” he said.
The wise time management plan has been an advantage, and eased him over a hump that he said affects many tournament anglers – and many non-tournament anglers. “I used to get sucked in by areas where I’d catch a fish or two, and not be able to leave,” he said. “Because I landed a few fish, I would usually stay and check them out for what turned out to be too long.”
Not any more. Now, he locates the spots that he feels hold the best potential. He may fish them briefly, and while watching his electronics and attempting to establish the best patterns, he catalogs the areas, noting the size of fish, the time of day they were active, the weather conditions, habitat and bait present. “On day one of any tournament, I begin seriously fishing the spots with the best potential. Two things occur when I do this: first, I don’t show up and camp out on good spots during practice and two, I don’t beat up my fish.”
At the AIM Championship, he located several areas he felt held potentially winning fish. He was going to spend two hours in the first location and then motor to another lake miles to the north. He caught quality fish right away, and even though they slowed mid-morning, and he had originally intended to check other areas, he remained. The fish bit well later in the day and also on the second and third days.
He said it takes time to understand the pattern and how fish respond, and his gut told him to stick it out. “I had several similar spots that were holding the same quality fish, but since the fish were biting and of the right size, I didn’t move,” he said. Todd’s tactics of spinners high in the water column triggered walleyes living in a virtual sea of bait. His account of that AIM victory is worth re-reading.
Even though he remained in one general area for that Championship, he said, “I tend to run and gun more now, as a rule, because I have all those potential good areas waiting for me.” The AIM Championship was his first tournament on “Winnie” as it’s affectionately called, and he said the types of areas he looked for in practice were those that his instincts led him to explore. “This is a great walleye fishery, and I look forward to hitting it again this season,” he said.
In 2010, Todd will fish the AIM series. “This is my format,” he emphasized. He has gone through a number of family set-backs since November, and hasn’t fished or hunted since then, and is continuing to clear up those issues. “As soon as I can, I will begin working with my sponsors and get my frame of mind oriented to fishing,” he said.