Goin’ Downtown: DeBoer, Leier, Win At Year’s First AWWS Warrior Boats/Mild2Wild Open In Bismarck, North Dakota
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published May 2, 2018
A rising river buoyed AIM Weekend Walleye Series competitors on the Missouri River at
Bismarck Sunday, as Todd DeBoer and Leon Leier went downtown to win $3,500 with
32.04 pounds at the year's first Warrior Boats/Mild2Wild Open.
Both anglers are from Bismarck, so that gave them a home water advantage to start,
however DeBoer admitted that their pre-fish had only netted them three or four fish a
day prior to Sunday.
"We hadn't had a very good pre-fish. The river's been coming up," DeBoer said. And
then the winds came. Gusts up to 35 mph made boat control paramount Sunday.
"The water started to clean up a little on Friday, and Saturday it was better, but Sunday
it really roiled up again. A lot of sand started swirling and after that the fishing really
Traveling from the launch point at Sugar Loaf Recreation area, the pair found their first
go-to spot occupied, so they ran about eight miles north to downtown Bismarck, where
they were alone most of the time, pitching roundball jigs into about two feet of sandy
water while they, and their bow-mount electric, locked in five feet of water, were
constantly adjusting for the wind and current.
"At first there were two other tournament boats near us and we watched them catch
two pretty good fish and they left, and that's when we got the better fish," DeBoer
added. That boat, he said, run by Tommy Miller, and Shawn Mertz, also from Bismarck,
eventually finished third, earning them $1,500 for 19.99 pounds.
"We hadn't caught any but then our first came and it was a 26-1/2-incher, and a few
minutes later there was a 20, and we got another in the 24-inch range, so we decidedto lock there all day long and hope we got five bites. We ended up with eight," DeBoer
"When we were ready to take off to give ourselves ample time to get back, my partner
caught another 26-1/2," he said. That twin to the first one in the net assured them a
going away win by nearly 10 pounds of snaggle-tooth.
From the start, they relied on hopping brightly colored jigs from ¼ to 3/8-ounce, with
plastics like Berkley Power Bait and Zoom attached, off the bottom, and switched to the
heavyweights after remembering what they did to win here two years ago.
"We won it in almost the same conditions then, and at about 10:30, we put on the
bigger jigs to get the bow out of our lines," he said, to mend a wind-bourne 30-foot arc
in them to a minimum. That helped keep their jigs on the bottom, and the fish
obviously didn't mind the switch either.
DeBoer, who's entered every AWWS tournament so far in North Dakota, also praised
AIM's Catch-Record-Release™ format, saying it's a shame more NoDak anglers aren't
taking advantage of C-R-R, designed to harm no fish, return them to the same waters
they inhabit, and allow the best team with the biggest fish to win every time, regardless
of regulations like slot limits.
"I know there's a tournament here next Saturday, one of the premier events on the
river, and I'm pretty sure you weigh six fish, and they don't release a one," he said.
In second place with 22.53 pounds, good for $2,000, was Trevor Fleck, Mandan, North
Dakota, and partner Kevin Kottsick, Dickinson, North Dakota, not bad for the pair's first
AIM event. Because they didn't want to battle the winds, they went to a crank
presentation, and also headed north after first starting across from the launch.
"We had no luck there, so we headed north and about five minutes into our first troll we
picked up a 27-incher and then two or three more, then didn't get anything, so we went
down south," Fleck said.
Pulling No. 11 floating Rapalas through two to six feet of water near sand bars, they
picked up a 19-3/4 inch fish on their first pass. After a fishless hour, they popped two,
a 24-1/2 and a 19-1/2. "That got our hopes up again," Fleck said.
Fleck also has his sights on fishing Devils Lake, the next North Dakota tournament, on
May 20. "I haven't fished it but my partner lived in Grand Forks growing up so he kinda
knows it. Were going to try."
"I like the AIM format a lot. You catch the big females that aren't spawned out yet and
get to put them back in so they can lay their eggs and keep the fish numbers up for
years to come," Fleck said.
Finishing in fourth and winning $1,000 for 18.59 pounds was the team of Cory
Christensen, West Fargo, ND, and Nate Helbling, Mandan, ND. Fifth went to Kyle
Clifton, and Jason Feldner, both of Minnewaukan, ND, who landed and released 16.57
pounds of walleye, earning them $900.
Check out how you would have done by going to AIM's Facebook page or
aimfishing.com. There's still plenty of time to enter the next NoDak event May 20 on
Devils Lake, taking place just before AIM's National Championship June 1-2 on
Wisconsin's Chippewa Flowage. Follow previews and updates for all AIM events at the
Facebook page and find entry forms at AIM's website.
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. AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats, LLC.
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