NWT Devils Lake Recap with Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke

DevilsLakeNWTTeamKFBoatsAfter the National Walleye Tour Sturgeon Bay event, all of our walleye anglers have landed in the Top 20 in the race for Angler of the Year.  We thought you’d all enjoy a little insight from our anglers—Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke on the final event from Devils Lake to finish the season!

Did you feel more pressure going into this tournament because it wraps up the season? How did you prepare for the event—with fishing or bow hunting to clear your heads?

Dusty: The championship is my favorite event of the year.  Typically point standings are over with and you can just let it all out and go big for the win!  I also enjoy fishing this time of the year with cooler temps and hungry fall feeding walleyes.  I prepared by doing some homework calling friends and trying to find where and what the fish were doing!  This was a strange week and a lot of things changed while we were at Devils.  Calm nice weather for practice turned into windy cooler tournament time conditions.  No Bow hunting for me, actually had to fly to St. Louis for work and didn’t return to the lake until late Wednesday night before the tournament started.  This added a little pressure being off the water for three days.

Bill:  For me, I don’t think I felt too much more pressure, if anything with just buying a new house I felt pressure to bring home some money to help with the renovations.  I did go out a few days earlier then I normally would to do some bow hunting and to spend a little more time on the water.  Devils Lake is an absolute maze, you could pre-fish for a month and you still would have time to cover it all.

How was day one of the tournament, specifically the weather conditions and tactics used?

Dusty: The first day I tried casting crankbaits for about 10 minutes and it didn’t work for me; however this turned out to be a winning tactic that I should have possibly spent more time doing.

I started in the popular area in Pelican Bay by the two sunken bridges with current where 20 other tournament boats started. Our boat was jigging #7 and #9 Jigging Rapalas along with some Northland Puppet minnows in perch colors; they seemed to work the best!

BobandD2013Bill: The weather was windy like it always is out there but I was tucked away in a small channel and had very nice fishing conditions.

I actually started snap jigging in the deeper trough as that is what worked in practice but it didn’t take long to figure out the fish were up shallower.  I went to casting #7 RS Shad Raps and VMC Mooneye jigs tipped with TriggerX plastics to catch all my fish.  I was very satisfied with my 12 pounds I brought in on day one after have a pretty tough pre-fish.


Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors

How did your experience change on day two?

Dusty: The weather was the same, with blowing winds with cool air temps.  The bite got tough in the pressured area I was fishing, but I was lucky enough to draw travel partner and good friend Gregg Opegard.  We landed some nice fish right away in the morning and had a nice 3-4 pound walleye come off right before we could get a net on it!

We stuck with our area even after  most boats got out and ended up getting a nice keeper rigging a leech.  Then by noon we bailed and fished some rock humps in Pelican bay with Northland Live Forage Crawler Hauler in the Gold Perch color with 1 ½ ounce Rock Runner Bottom Bouncers and ended up catching three more nice fish from 17 to 20’’.

DandOppe2013DLBill: Day 2 was the death of me; I got to my spot with high hopes only to find out the water had turned to mud and the fish just simply couldn’t see our baits.  There were 3 of us in there including Chris Gillman who went on to win the tournament, and we all bailed within an hour.

I was forced to change-up and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  I ran to about 8 spots and also back to my starting spot to see if the water cleared in the afternoon.  I caught all of 50 walleyes that day and the biggest one was 16.5 inches.

How did you all do? What place did you take, what were your bag weights, and how much did you win?

Dusty: I ended the tournament with 20-1/2 pounds for 36th place and missing the money by 5 pounds.  Just goes to show if you get every fish to the boat and make the right decisions you can always have a chance.

Bill: After a decent first day start, I fell back to 60th Place with 16.4 pounds.

Bill and Dusty, this season has been great for the entire krugerfarms.com team. What do you think has led to this success?

Dusty: I think we work great together as a team – we all bring different approaches to the table. Like anything in life, you have to work hard to be successful at the same time you also have to filter out the good and bad information.  Also one thing I like to stress is that this is life and you should always try to have fun no matter what you are doing!  We have fun as a group we also had a great team of Co-anglers that traveled with us helping along the way… Cody Lubeley – Chris Augustine – Gregg Opegard – Karl Sprengel and everyone else that helped us along the season…  I will miss you the most Karl! ; )

Bill: On top of what Dusty already mentioned;  I know our success has a lot to do with all the hard work we put into it.  We are up late every night preparing rods and tackle when most guys are already in bed.  We also give it 110% every day on the water.

Before this tournament, for the Angler of the Year standings, Korey was sitting in first place with 585 points, Bill was sitting in third place with 557 points, and Dusty was sitting in 18th place with 485 points. How did you all finish in the Angler of the Year standings after this weekend?

Dusty: Ended up in 19th overall in the standings. I think it was a good race throughout the season.  We have not seen full fields like this in walleye fishing in some time so competition was stiff! At the end of the day I’m happy ending the season being one of the Top 20 walleye angers

Bill: It was tough to see Korey fall to second place in a tie breaker.  Myself, I ended up in 6th place overall.  I was very pleased to have the season I did.  I had so much going on at home this year I had to put some of the normal preparations for these tournaments on the back burner.  Can’t wait for next year and another chance to make a run for it!

What are all of your plans for the winter and next year? Are you going to change things up or stick with the great thing you’ve got going?

Dusty:  This winter I will be working a lot around the country for North Country Marketing and getting prepared again for next season!  I think we had a great thing going this season and some fuel was put in our fire to come back strong again next season… Look forward to working with the guys and getting a game plan ready for 2014

Bill: We always have to wait and see what the schedules for all the circuits look like before we make all of our plans but I’m sure you will see the Men in Black back together again next year!    I plan to do plenty of deer hunting this fall, I already started by taking a nice doe while I was out in North Dakota!


Photo courtesy of Liddle Marketing Co

Any closing thoughts about the NWT season?

Bill: I think the NWT did a great job for the inaugural season.  The participation numbers are finally back to where we want them and hopefully they can continue to offer us a good schedule to fish next season.

Dusty: It was a great year and I feel very fortunate that the NWT along with Ranger Boats – stepped up to plate and formed a competitive televised tournament circuit for Professional Walleye fisherman. The NWT did a great job in its inaugural season.

Just wanted to say big thanks to the Support from my sponsors this season without them this is not possible— Krugerfarms.com – Crown Royal – ICP – Ranger – Evinrude – SPYHuminnbird Minn Kota – Optima Batteries – Arctic Ice – Ontario’s Sunset Country- Under ArmorRapala –  Northland Fishing Tackle – Central Marine and Sports – Formula Propeller

Also big thanks to Fans – Friends and Family for the all of your support throughout the season!

Day1DevilsLake2013Also special thanks to my good friend Kari Solis from Bearsolis.com for all the great photos and coverage at all the events this season… You’re the best! Check out her newly designed website www.bearsolis.com

Shimano releases a game changer

Admittedly I have been a Shimano fishing reel junkie for years, my Dad I bought several of the original green bantam Curados when they came out in the 90’s, they were a great reel and Shimano has been reliable and good to me ever since. I even have a few of the original green Curados still in my arsenal.

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

That being said, I usually purchase and try out the newest and greatest Curados, Chronarchs when they come out and even have a Core in my lineup. The newer reels are often lighter, smoother and have a few extra bells and whistles than previous models.  That being said, I was extra stoked about the release of the new Chronarch CI4+ for this year when it was announced at ICAST 2013. I spent quite a bit of time searching around online stores looking to see who would get these reels in first.

Fortunately, KrugerFarms.com was one of the firs to have them in stock in the 150HG model, which is the right handed, high speed version.  At 7.6:1, I am pretty sure this is the fastest reel Shimano has put out yet for the freshwater market.  It is nice ordering from Kruger Farms, as I usually get my stuff in 1-2 days versus a full week from other online retailers that are often based on the West Coast. My initial out of the box impression was very impressive, the reel is super light and you can instantly feel the smoothness and quality of the reel. Once I paired it with my Dobyns Champion Extreme DX745C, it made it feel like a new rod. It made an already great rod feel even more unbelievably light and balanced.

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Once on the water, the reel really proved its merit. As smooth as any reel I’ve ever fished, casts a mile and with the added external cast control it manages lures of all weights and sizes with just a few quick clicks. If you are in to having the best of the best in bass fishing gear, this new Chronarch is a must have! Or with Christmas around the corner, if you are looking to have your favorite fisher persons eyes light up on Christmas morning, this is a can’t miss!

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

First Harvest of a Minnesota Bear

Mark with his first bear.

Mark with his first bear.

Pro-staff Contributor: Mark Hackbarth

From the day I drew a Minnesota bear tag, I had been anticipating this hunt.  It not only marked the start of my 2013 fall season but also allowed me a chance to improve on my last unsuccessful bear hunt.  This hunt was a challenge and an opportunity for me to critique my skills and learn from what I had done the year before.

I decided from the beginning I wanted to take my first bear with a bow.  Because I hadn’t even seen an animal the year before, I knew this wasn’t going to be as easy as I once thought it would be.  It was going to take a lot of strategic planning, practice and time to put it all together.

What seemed like endless preparation was completed in a matter of a few short weeks.  I needed to determine what I would use for bait, where I could get it from, how often I needed to bait, trail camera and stand placement, and many details all the way down to shot placement.  As my mind continued to race, the time was running out to get everything in order.  Before I knew it Chris, a friend of mine who also drew a tag, and I were taking our first trip up north to set our bait sites.

One of the trail cam photos Mark caught before the hunt.

One of the trail cam photos Mark caught before the hunt.

August 16th marked the day to begin baiting and we felt prepared.  We equipped ourselves with a good mixture of sweet and savory goodies for our sites.  From peanut butter and gumdrops to dog food and fryer grease—we had an abundance to work with.  We eagerly anticipated what might come to our concoction of sweets in one 50 gallon drum and greasy dog food in another while we set our trail camera and then let it be.

On our way back up the following weekend the excitement built every mile.  With a full day of baiting ahead of us, we reloaded our truck with necessities and headed out the following morning.  Approaching the site, we immediately knew it had been hit.  The trail camera showed multiple pictures of bears in the daytime—we had not expected them to hit the site only four hours after we set the bait the week prior!   There was consistent bear activity from that point forward and I was optimistic about what the Labor Day weekend opener might bring.

After one last check and refreshment of the bait on Saturday, August 31st the camera was still showing good bear activity.  A long awaited opener was on the verge and I anxiously awaited taking the stand come the noon hour September 1st.  Little did I know what I was actually in for.

The view from the stand.

The view from the stand.

A few practice shots at the cabin in the morning and it was off to the stand.  Chris dropped me off at my location and I was getting settled in at 11:47AM.  A cold front had moved in and I was worried about the wind direction which, as I expected, was completely wrong for my hunt.  I grabbed my phone to text Chris about my concern and as soon as I hit send and looked back at the bait site I could see the head and front shoulders of a good bear. I didn’t know how to react because I had spent such a short time in the stand.

I quickly put my phone down and reached for my bow.  A shot presented itself and I drew back, but as soon as I did, the bear continued to make its way to the barrels.  As it made one last move towards the barrels, I focused on finding my spot, waited for the front leg to go forward, and released.  The placement was right where I wanted it and I watched as the bear took off and crashed only twenty yards from the place of the shot.

A trail cam photo taken just before the shot.

A trail cam photo taken just before the shot.

I couldn’t believe it!! 12:00PM was the time of the shot.  It seemed to be almost too good to believe and almost too quick.  I had filled my tag in thirteen minutes, but it was one of the most exhilarating hunts I have been on.  After getting the bear out, taking a few pictures, and receiving many congratulations from friends and family, my first bear was in the books and a lot of hard work had paid off.  I couldn’t think of a better way to start the season!

Mark Hackbarth is from the west metro area of Minnesota.  Mark is an avid outdoorsman and big game hunter as well as a freelance photographer; he is constantly striving to find new and exciting ways to bring these passions together. You can follow his work on Instagram (@markhackbarth) and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/mark.hackbarth).

Bear Hunting in MN

Fearless Spotlight: Lauren’s First California Blacktail Buck at Age 13


Lauren with her first California Blacktail buck.

Lauren with her first California Blacktail buck.

Pro-staff Contributor: Stuart McCullough

Friday afternoon was a day that was long awaited at the McCullough house—it was the first time this season that my 13-year-old daughter, Lauren, was able to make it to the hills with her brother, Zachary, and me.  Even though it was warm and a bit humid she was excited, tapping her foot and ready to go.

On the way up, we made a plan for how and what areas we were going to cover that evening.  However, the first stop was in the flat to take a few shots with the Savage .243 to ensure that things were still on.  After a few shots from 100 to 250 yards, we traveled up the canyon to the camp—the hunt was on.

Even with the heat, the deer were on their feet early, taking advantage of all of the acorns that had fallen recently.  Lauren saw several does and fawns before catching sight of her buck feeding with five other deer at 300 yards.  She made her way into position with her brother and me right behind her.  The distance was closed to just over 160 yards once she was in position.  It took just a few moments for the buck to present a broad side shot.  At that time, just like an old pro, she quietly said “Okay, here we go”.  She squeezed off the round, sending it right on the mark behind the shoulder and putting him down where he stood.  “I think I got him,” she commented with a look of excitement and relief.

As we walked out to retrieve the buck there were many smiles and small comments on the shot.  Once up to the buck, I gave her the green light saying, “You’re good. Put your hands on him.”  As she knelt down besides the buck and held his antlers, she said thank you to the buck for being there for her and ensured him that he was respected and would be cared for properly.  When the photos were finished and everything was loaded up, we made our way back to the valley to get the deer in the cooler and to share the tale of how Lauren harvested her first California Blacktail buck.

We’d love to hear from you–send tales of your Fearless hunt to erin@krugerfarms.com.