Christmas Gifts for the Walleye Angler

Pro-staff Contributor:  Dusty Minke

As a devoted walleye angler and outdoorsman, I know how great it is to get fishing gear at Christmas time.  Shopping for avid outdoor enthusiast can be a daunting task for many friends and spouses, so here are a few of my top picks to help you shop for your special walleye angler.

Stocking Stuffers

Lures and baits a simple yet great stocking stuffer come Christmas, so here are some of my top walleye lure picks:
Jigging Rapalas
VMC Tingler Spoons
Northland Mimic Minnows
Spinner Rigs

JIggin' Raps

JIggin’ Raps

Many of these spoons and jigging raps double as great ice fishing lures as well!

Nice listLet’s face it, there are some deserving walleye fisher people out there, so if you are looking for some out of the box gifts for those on your nice list, you probably want to step it up a little.

I enjoy using and think any Rapala tools or fillet knives make a great item to receive at Christmas. The touch screen Rapala scale is a great pick as well!

very very Nice list

Polarized sun glasses are a must for all anglers, the SPY Optics Kash Polarized would be my top pick. Often times fisherman don’t want to spend the extra $$ on shades, but once they get them for a gift and see how nice they are on the water, they’ll be thinking of you every time they go fishing until the follow Christmas.

Also I strongly suggest any type of Muck boots – when I’m fishing in extreme condition I want my feet dry so that is why I wear these boots all year round especially in the boat during fishing season…


Or a Shimano Static CI4 in 1000 or 2500 spinning reel; this is a great real that any fisherman would love to have.

Fish On …
Dusty Minke
Pro Staff Contributor and Tournament Walleye Angler

3 Keys to Fall Walleye Fishing

For starters, in my opinion, it is simply the best time of year hands down! Weather is cooling off and the views of fall colors are spectacular.

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

I like to tell people to fish like it is spring again; spring walleyes are hungry after the spawn but they are still lethargic and moody at times.  Fall walleyes are just plain hungry and that’s it!  Before winter sets in I think they feed heavier and even get bigger than in the spring. I actually like fall fishing the best.  Seems like there is less pressure everyone is hunting and watching sports.  So like spring think shallow water and the best part is, you will probably have the lake or river to yourself!

So here are my 3 keys to fall walleyes:

– Use more aggressive baits – Fall walleyes are mad! They are feeding to stock up for a long winter so if the fish are going to be aggressive use lures that you can work fast to get the reaction strike.  My fall favorites are casting crank baits or trolling them, jigging spoons/one eye’s, Jigging Raps or Puppet minnows and snap jigging minnow and jigs.  By using these aggressive lures you will put more fish in the boat.

– Grab the waders!  Often times we think that we need to be in a boat to catch fish.  The fall is the best time of the year to get a good hunt in the morning and some great mid-day fish catching.  This makes for a great surf & turf combo platter at night.  Have you ever had fresh venison and walleye or duck /grouse with walleye?  That’s what I call Surf and Turf! And keep it simple you don’t need a whole lot of gear for this strategy.  Also make sure to be safe depending on the season and dress as if your hunting (base layers are key).

– Fall wintering Walleyes do feed shallow and usually that is your best bet for ambushing them, however don’t forget to try deep!  Later in the fall walleyes can act like winter walleyes where they live in the deep water usually adjacent to shallower water humps or break lines.  Usually the best way to catch these deep fish is to jig or rig live bait using bigger profile minnows.  Also use Jiggin lures such as Jigging Raps and heavier winter type lures.  Don’t be afraid to try 30-50 feet of water; no matter where I have fished across the country fish live in both deep and shallow water…


Dress for the Weather

Good luck and remember to pack the fishing gear on your next fall adventure

Fish On …
Dusty Minke
Pro Staff Contributor and Tournament Walleye Angler

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 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— – 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 for all the great photos and coverage at all the events this season… You’re the best! Check out her newly designed website

NWT Sturgeon Bay Recap with Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke

Winners of NWT Sturgeon Bay

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

After 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.  After last week’s interview with the tournament winner, Korey Sprengel, we thought you’d all enjoy a little insight from our other anglers—Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke!

What were your thoughts before going into the Sturgeon Bay tournament?

Bill: I felt really good going into this one. We were on a “hero or zero” kind of pattern but we spent all of our time in practice dialing in to the big fish up north.  I felt I stood a good chance of getting a few bites at a minimum, which would result in a respectable weight, or I would be in contention to win if I could get a limit.

Dusty NWT Sturgeon Bay

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Dusty: I was feeling pretty good! Some days where a grind on “The Bay” and others were spectacular!

Prefishing was a blast to say the least! I got to spend two quality days on the water with my pops, Todd Minke, and our great family friend, Uncle Mark Harrington.  I also had a great time with three Heil dealers who joined me on the water–my stomach still hurts from laughing and all of the guys went home with some fish.

How was day one of the tournament and what tactics did you use?

Dusty: It was a grind—the day started with a long, windy boat ride and the struggle continued while we brought fish into the boat. A big storm came through, blowing gusts of 50 mph with rain and hail, and turned one of our Off Shore Planer Boards into a kite. It was unreal!

Nothing was working for us and I live and die by the spinner! It was a matter of finding the right water and keeping our lures off the bottom all day long. The rocky bottom was full of gobs, zebra mussels and black moss.  Staying free of this debris was key.

I told Steve, my co-angler, that I had one more spot to hit on the way in. In the last fifteen minutes we boated one 30” and two 24” walleyes. We literally went from 0 to 18 pounds in one pass! This goes to show you that you have to keep working hard until the last moment—even though we were mentally and physically beaten, we never gave up. I wish we had one more pass at those fish; I know we could have had 30 pounds then!

Dusty and Co-angler Green Bay WI

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill: It was a little rough getting to our fishing location, but once we got to our spot we were somewhat protected from the wind.

I stuck with the same plan throughout the tournament. I pulled crawler harnesses with in-line weights and spread my lines out with Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards.   My biggest struggle was finding promising areas to fish—I had to keep moving to find the areas that had the right water temp. I found the most success when using my Minn Kota iPilot to constantly adjust my speed. This allowed me to raise and lower the running depth of my lines when I was going over and around structure.

Bill Fish

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

How did your experience change on day two?

Bill: The wind was blowing even harder when we took off in the morning on day two.  It took me about an hour and ten minutes to get to my spot.  Just like on day one, my first fish was over 10 pounds.  I got another fish on the same pass so I thought it was going to be a good day, but after that pass it got down right tough.  I stuck with the same patterns but I really had to run and gun to get a couple more bites.  I ended up weighing only four fish each day, but fortunately they were the right ones.

Dusty: On day two I decided to start where we had caught the nice fish at the end of the day one. This area was only ten miles from the take-off location and I had great success during prefishing there.  Also, I had lost the lead on day one, so I wanted to give Bill and Korey some space to make sure that they got the best opportunity on the best spot right away in the morning! I had decided that I would go to our location later in the morning if my spot didn’t produce.

We also figured the weather and wind change was going to affect the fish and adjusting to the conditions was going to be key. Tim, my co-angler, hooked into a dandy 5-pounder around 10am but we couldn’t manage another fish into the boat for the rest of the day! I decided to stick with the spinner program because I had watched other boats pulling cranks with no success.

How did you guys do? 

Bill Trophy

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill: I took 3rd place by bringing in 34.5 lbs on day one and 26.5 lbs on day two.  I won $19,775 and am now in 3rd place in the Angler of the Year standings.

Dusty: I ended up in 63rd place with no money on this one.  However, I’m sitting in 18th place for Angler of the Year going into the championship on Devil’s Lake.

When is your next tournament?

Dusty: We’re both in the NWT Championship, September 19th-21st, on Devils Lake in North Dakota.  I’m really looking forward to Devil’s—it is my kind of tournament and I love that time of year!

Is there anything else you guys want to share?

Bill: It was a great week—like always we worked very hard during our prefishing period and it paid off.  I have fished Green Bay a handful of times, but this was the first time that there has been a major walleye tournament launched out of Sturgeon Bay.

I hope to go back to Door County again—it is no doubt one of this country’s crown jewels. Its only problem is the Packer fans all over the place!

Dusty: I want to thank all of my sponsors, Crown Royal, Heil-(ICP), Ranger Evinrude, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Arctic Ice, Under Armour, Formula Propeller, and Spy.

Also, I’m very proud of my teammates Korey and Bill for their great finishes at Sturgeon Bay! I really like how our team is working this season—I look forward to each and every tournament we fish together.

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Recap of National Walleye Tour-Lake Erie Event

The anglers had another strong NWT tournament on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, OH. Even though the tournament was unexpectedly cut down to one day, every one of them landed in the money! We sat down with Dusty Minke, Korey Sprengel and Bill Shimota again to get their thoughts.

So, first things first, how did you guys finish?

Dusty – I took home $11,000 for finishing in 9th place with 44.15 pounds.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Korey – I took 16th place with 42.87 pounds and won $6,555.

Bill – I ended in 24th place with 41.11 pounds for $4,770 in winnings.

Nice job guys!  What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Dusty – Honestly, I felt pretty good even though practice was short for me—I was only able to prefish Monday through Wednesday.  The bite was good during practice and our walleye team had a game plan going into the event! We had a great crew; everyone pitched in and worked hard.

Bill – I was pretty confident going into the event, and I told myself that I would be disappointed if I came in with less than forty pounds.  At the same time, I knew most of my competitors would have the same kind of prefishing experience so it would come down to getting the 9-10 pounders instead of 7-8 pound fish.

Korey – I thought that we all had a shot at having a good finish.  Prefishing went great, as it did for everyone else, but we stumbled upon an area in prefishing that had quality fish that weighed more than average fish of the same length.

How much experience have you had fishing this specific location? How did the weather affect your prefishing?

Bill – I have competed in about eight tournaments on Lake Erie.  The weather during practice was great; we were able to go where we needed to fish almost every day, which is pretty rare for Lake Erie.

Korey – This was my first tournament on Lake Erie but I felt confident because I had learned a lot about what to expect and where to look for the right fish. The weather was fairly good when we were prefishing, we only lost one day due to wind—the day before the tournament.

Dusty – This was the second event for me on Lake Erie.  Like Bill said, the weather was nice for the short time I was prefishing but we had our work cut out for us and a lot of miles to cover because Canada was in play—I really put Sparkie, the Ranger Evinrude, to work!  Peely Island and the Canadian side offer endless fishable water, making it hard to dissect in a short amount of time.

The tournament was postponed on Day One and didn’t start until June 15th. Why did that happen?

Dusty – There was a wind and small craft advisory—basically the waves were too big to let us out of the gate.  We were running around 25 miles so that could have taken a long time in that wind…

Korey – The winds were gusting over 30 mph.

Dusty – …Some other teams were running 50 miles one way to the East, so I couldn’t imagine that would have been ideal in those conditions.

What were your thoughts when Day One was postponed?

Bill – I think it was a good call but I was disappointed because I was so excited to get out to those big walleyes again!

Korey – I was kind of relieved knowing that I was making a 25-mile run on the lake no matter the weather conditions, but it may have played to our advantage if we would have started the tournament on the 14th as planned.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Dusty – Honestly I was ready to go! But when I looked at the main water I could see it was brutal and that the tournament director made the right call! We prepare ourselves to compete and fish but when it comes down to it, the tournament has to consider the safety of the anglers. No matter what we have to respect the director’s call!

What tactics and lures did you use to fish?

Korey – We trolled Chartreuse Crawler harnesses with gold or antifreeze blades in Colorado, pulling them behind 3oz weights. The key was to keep moving around to find active fish—after about 2-3 passes on a school they would scatter or quit biting.

Bill – I pulled Jolly Roger Spinners and in-line weights.

Dusty – I was fishing with spinners and crawlers—using a mixture of VMC, Northland and Jolly Rogers spinners in Gold and Chartreuse with the gold-orange–green and chartreuse beads. I also used 1-1/2 and 2 ounce inline weights, fishing from 20 to 30 feet behind off-shore planer boards in 40 Feet of water.  Typically, I’d be moving around .9-1.3mph. This was the first time I had only six rods in the boat for the tournament!

Did you have to adapt your methods because of the wind and weather?

Bill – The only thing we had to adapt to was the current; you really had to watch it every day and that would tell you how fast or slow you needed to troll.

Dusty – The day of the tournament was flat and calm, just like it was during prefishing, so no changes were needed. I did, however, learn to give myself more time to get in! The wind kicked up on the ride back which created big waves off of the waves created by pleasure boaters in the area. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t make it back in time.

You all did really well this tournament, but did you try any tactics that didn’t work?

Korey – During prefishing, I tried cranks but didn’t have much luck. I probably should have tried them more because this is how the tournament was won!

Bill – I didn’t really experiment with tactics.  I’ve been on Lake Erie enough times to know what needs to be done and I didn’t waste any time trying new things.

Day two was cancelled due to weather. Do you think things would have turned out differently if you’d had a second tournament day?

Bill – Again it was a great call with safety in mind, but I was bummed because I felt I could move up in the standings with a second day to fish.  That being said, when the smoke cleared, we were all pretty happy to end up in the money!

Bill on Lake Erie.

Bill on Lake Erie.

Korey – If we would have had a second day it might of played to our advantage a little—because we knew that we were going about half as far as some of the leaders…but it would be hard to say if that would have played out as we hoped.

Dusty – I definitely think it would have played out differently! That is why the NWT hosts two-day events. It allows the tournament to be won by someone who consistently brings in big bags. I feel that if we could have returned to our spot for a second day that we could have got them—but there are some things we will never know! Weather, wind, and currents change and the angler that adapts and finds them can have the advantage. However, I respect the decision to cancel day two because the wind got worse, which would have been really hard on the equipment and anglers.

When is your next tournament?

Dusty and Bill – NWT in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It will take place on July 26th and 27th.

Korey – My next tournament will be the MWC on Winnebago, June 28th and 29th.

Do you have any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Bill – If you ever have a chance to experience fishing on Lake Erie I would highly suggest it.  Like they say, “There’s Lake Erie, and then there’s everywhere else!”  Where else would you need an 8-pound average just to get a check?

Guys at the Lake Erie NWT Event

Q&A with Dusty Minke on 3rd Place Finish at Leech Lake Walleye Tournament

We got a chance to catch up with Dusty Minke after his 3rd place finish in the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament last weekend:

First, the basics, what was the tournament and where did it take place?

Last weekend I participated in the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament (LLWT) in Walker, MN. Walker is my favorite town in the world—seriously, someday I will live or have a cabin there. It’s truly heaven…especially in the summer!

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Dusty prefishing for the LLWT.

Dusty prefishing for the LLWT.

I was very excited about the tournament—fishing on the lake was good and prefishing went well. We weren’t sure of where we were going to start; we knew the winds were changing 180 degrees—moving from the South all week to a strong Northern wind—so we made the decision in the morning that we were going to fish main lake points with a Northern wind blowing into them. My partner, Coach, and I had to return to work after the Memorial weekend and couldn’t get back to the lake until Thursday, but that was fine because I honestly think prefishing too much on Leech can hurt you. We knew where the fish were and just needed to concentrate on getting fish in the boat plus our one “over” fish. This lake has a slot limit and tournament rules of six fish with only one measuring over 26” per day. Our other fish had to be 14” to 18” so any fish between 18” and 26” had to be released because they were in the “protected slot”. For this reason, concentrating on spots that had “over” and “under” fish was key.

How does this tournament differ from others you’ve participated in?

This is a big tournament, with 155 boats, so there is a lot of great competition—especially because most of the participants are locals and northern MN fishermen, the best of the best! It differs from some tournaments because it is a team format which allows you to pick your partner.

This is also a very special tournament and place to me because this is where my tournament craze started back in 2001. That was when my dad and I decided to fish the PWT as co-anglers to get a taste of what tournament fishing offers. We had a blast and it was a huge learning experience for us! At the end of the tournament, I walked away nearly in last place and told my dad that I would be running the boat and calling the shots during the next pro/am event—I was 18 years old at the time!

After my first experience at Leech Lake, I started fishing this event with my friends Jamie Fehrenbacher, then Jeff Andersen, and eventually returned with my dad in 2005 to finish in 8th place. I guess participating in tournaments at Leech Lake has directed my life in a lot of ways because that same year my good friend Jeff Andersen introduced me to Jeff Gustafson and Toby Kvalevog. These three individuals are probably the best fisherman I could have surrounded myself with and are now my long time good friends…I guess that’s just a little history for ya!

What gear did you use during the tournament?

I used 6’ 8” Dobyns Savvy and Shimano Crucial rods (medium-fast action) paired with Shimano Stradic reels(Stradic reels now on sale!). These were teamed up with 8-pound Sufix Fluoro line. Of course, I relied on “Sparkie” the Ranger, with the help of Evinrude, Humminbird, Minn Kota, and Optima Batteries for a flawless ride.

What was your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge of this event was finding the fish over 26”. On the first day, Coach slammed a 26.5” fish at 9:30 in the morning and made the rest of our day pretty easy. We ended up going through about thirty fish to ensure all of our “under” fish ranged from 16″ to 18″. On day two, the wind died down and because this is a wind-driven lake it made us a little nervous! However, we kept our heads high and our confidence up to make the right decisions. We decided to drop a “creek chub” (minnow) down at 11:00am and we brought eight fish in the boat within twenty minutes—all of them were 22” to 26” so we were able to keep an “over” fish. Then we ran to several spots jigging spot-tailed shiners with Blue White VMC Dominator Hammer Head jigs to fill out our limit for the day. We knew we had a good bag but would have liked a little more time to put some “under” fish in the boat!

Dusty and Coach with their wall bling.

Dusty and Coach with their wall bling.

How did you finish and what did you win?

We took third place—winning $4,000 along with some nice wall bling!

What are the lessons that you’ll apply to next time?

We learned something very important about when the wind dies and the skies are high… but I can’t give out all of the secrets! However, I will say that that we should have given more time to our main spot when the wind picked up towards the afternoon!

Any closing thoughts?

Dusty and the Crown Royal Blended Whisky girls in Nisswa.

Dusty and the Crown Royal Blended Whisky girls in Nisswa.

I want to thank everyone involved this week that made it very special and fun. I wish the time did not go by so quickly! The LLWT is a great event—thanks to all of the volunteers and the city of Walker. You can find “southern hospitality” in this small, Northern-Minnesota town—that’s for sure!

I also want to thank Coach (aka. Troy Jutting), my partner for keeping me in line and helping make critical decisions during the event! Finally, I want to thank those that got me to this point: Dad, my brother Kyle Minke, Toby and Dean Kvalevog, Jeff Andersen, John Hoyer and the rest of the LOA crew.

If any of you guys will be near Aberdeen on June 27th, come join me at a Crown Royal Blended Whisky event. We had a great event in Nisswa earlier this month with Nerissa and Kylle!

All in all, it was a great week and I’m already looking forward to next year!

Dusty Minke is a professional angler and avid outdoorsman from Forest Lake, Minnesota. You will see him fishing the NWT circuits as well as other fishing tournaments in the Midwest. You can like his page on Facebook ( and follow him on Twitter (@DustyMinke).

Interviews from the Mississippi River National Walleye Tournament

The team after the NWT event!

The team after the NWT event!

We had an awesome team of anglers on the Mississippi River this weekend for the National Walleye Tour—including the tournament winner, Korey Sprengel, as well as Dusty Minke and Bill Shimota! With each angler bringing his own experience and expertise, we wanted to give you a taste of what they all had to share about the event. We’re hoping this will give you an idea of the life of a tournament angler—be sure to leave a comment and let us know if there is anything else you’d like us to ask!

 Have you all been fishing together in the past?

Korey – Dusty, Bill and I have been teamed up for three years. It has been working very well because we all have something different to bring to the table which makes us a very well rounded team.

Dusty – We work together as a team. In this way, we can dissect water and patterns in a short period of time. We started hanging out a few years ago and started the team last year on Bay De Noc in MI. Korey won that event and Bill and I both landed in the top 10. I guess it’s no surprise that during this first 2013 tournament Korey won again—I’m very proud of him and excited to be able to fish together.

How much experience have you had in tournament fishing and/or fishing this specific location?

Dusty at weigh-in. Photo courtesy of Bear Solis.

Dusty at weigh-in. Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Korey – I have been fishing walleye tournaments for seven years. My first time fishing a tournament in Red Wing, MN was in 2011.

Bill – I consider this stretch of the Mississippi River my home waters and have had several top ten finishes here including a couple tournament wins.

Dusty – I have fished the Mississippi River in Red Wing a lot over the years – it is a very challenging place to fish but it also can be a lot of fun because I prefer a tough bite. I have probably fished ten big tournaments on this body of water over the years—it offers a good challenge every time.

What were your thoughts going into the tournament?

Dusty – Going into the tournament, I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous! The bite on the river had changed a lot during prefishing. Originally, there were lots of fish in certain areas by the dam. Then they opened the gates at the dam, creating a different flow and the water temp went from 38 to 44 degrees in less than 4 days. This caused a lot of the fish to move down stream and the fisherman who figured that out did the best! I was confident I could get some fish but getting the big bite was what a guy needed! I guess we didn’t have much a game plan but we did find some key areas that ended up getting Korey the win!

Korey – Going into the first day, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because as Dusty said, prefishing was tough and the river was changing every day. I wasn’t sure if I could catch a limit each day.

Bill – Pretty much what Dusty said, I figured we could catch a small limit every day and hoped to get a couple of lucky big bites. This was hands-down the toughest bite I’ve ever seen in April on pool four—the late spring has the fish very confused.

It sounds like the water temps changed quite a bit between prefishing and the tournament. That was due to the dam and the weather, right?

Korey – The weather went from highs in the 30’s with a couple inches of snow during prefishing to sunny and highs in the 70’s by tournament day. With the warmer days leading to the tournament the water temp started to rise and with it the activity started to grow. By tournament day, the water temps got to 42-45 degrees and the bite seemed to pick up by the afternoon.

How did you approach day one and day two? Did you change any of your tactics or stick with what you had previous success with?

Bill at the event. Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill at the event. Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill – Day one was very frustrating for me; I tried to play it safe and just catch a limit. All I could come up with was one 19″ walleye and a few that were too short to keep. I was pretty bummed about going in with one fish until I found out that there were 52 guys that had zeroed and most guys had only taken 1-3 fish. That gave me some hope for day two.

I pretty much hand-lined for most of the tournament. It’s a technique I am very confident in and with a tough bite I figured I could catch enough doing it. I started the morning of day two looking to get a big bite but after a couple of hours, with nothing to show, I went back to hand-lining. I picked up one here and there. Then, at about 1:00pm, I ran to a spot that really turned on. We started catching them pretty quickly until the boat traffic got so bad that I decided to leave. I saw several more fish caught on Day 2 across the board, but was surprised to find out Korey and I had two of only a handful of limits caught.

Dusty – I started each day 3-way rigging with a Northland Slurp Jig and Trigger-X Walleye Fishing Grub back to a live bait rig with a minnow–this is how I caught the four fish I brought to weigh-in. I fished some areas that had heavy pressure by the dam and an area called Hay Creek—it was spitting out some good fish but unfortunately our boat never got the big bite we needed!

Korey – When I started the tournament, my first tactic was pitching Berkley Rib worms with 1/4 oz jigs against rip rap shorelines. I spent the first few hours pitching for big bites, and after I got one bite I moved to hand-lining Rapala Original Floaters to try and put a limit in the boat. After a few hours, and only one fish in the boat, I went back to pitching rib worms and pulled into a spot where four out of six pitches landed three fish ranging from 3-5 lbs to finish my limit.

I started day two in fourth place and decided to start where I caught my big fish on day one. I was going to spend most the day there and wait them out, but by about noon I only had two fish. I switched to hand-lining to try to get a limit and in an hour I caught the three fish needed to finish my limit. I then made the decision that I could upgrade by ounces there or go for big fish and upgrade by pounds—so I went back to pitching…with no prevail.

So, how’d you finish?

Dusty – I landed right out of the money, in 46th place. On day one I weighed in two fish at 3.37 pounds. On day two I had three fish at 4.85—making my total weight 8.22 pounds.

Bill – I took 19th place with a $5780 pay out. I ended day one with one fish at 2.36 pounds and day two with a five fish limit at 12.08—for a total of 14.44 pounds.

Korey – I won the tournament with a total of 26.81 pounds. I took in 16.69 pounds on the first day and 10.12 on the second. For winning the National Walleye Tour at Red Wing, I received a Ranger 620 boat and $16,000.

NWT winner Korey Sprengel

Korey with his massive trophy.

When are your next tournaments?

Dusty – My next tournament is the Sturgeon Bay Bass Open with Dave Bennet on May 17-18th.

Bill – My next stop is the National Walleye Tour event on Lake Erie, June 14-15th.

Korey – My next tournament will be the Masters Walleye Circuit event at Oconto, WI on Green Bay, May 31st – June 1st. Then I’ll be joining Bill and Dusty at the next NWT event on Lake Erie.

Any parting thoughts?

Bill – I’m pretty satisfied with the way this one turned out. There were miserable weather conditions during practice and about the toughest bite we could’ve faced. However, as always, we all worked extremely hard on and off the water to put enough together to get the job done. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Dusty – It was a great way to kick off the NWT tournaments. The organization and planning worked great! Our new tournament directors and crew are top notch. I also had a blast helping out the NPAA—getting the kids set up with new rods and tackle. I bet we gave out more than 100 rods! Nothing is better than seeing a kid smile and introducing them to the best sport ever! A big thanks to the town of Red Wing for hosting the event –it’s a great town with awesome people. Also, I couldn’t do this without my sponsors (, Crown Royal, ICP, Ranger, Evinrude, Minn Kota, Humminbird, SPY, Arctic Ice, Rapala, MK, Under Armour, Optima Batteries, Formula Propeller , Northland)—thank you all.

Korey – It feels great to win—I wasn’t expecting it! I just never got the big bites I wanted to get but couldn’t be happier! I’d like to thank my sponsors Ranger, Mercury,, Lowrance, Berkley, Offshore Tackle, M-W Marine, Federal Mogul, and most of all my family, I couldn’t do it without all of them.

 We’ll be checking back with these guys throughout the season, but if you want to see more updates be sure to connect with them on social media. You can like Dusty on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. You can also connect with Korey and Bill on Facebook.  We’re also providing tournament updates and news about our anglers on the Twitter and Facebook accounts—come join us!