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. 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!
Bill: 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’’.
Bill: 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 – SPY – Huminnbird – Minn Kota – Optima Batteries – Arctic Ice – Ontario’s Sunset Country- Under Armor – Rapala – 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!
Also 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