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

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 Krugerfarms.com, 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.

Interview with Korey Sprengel: Two-time NWT Walleye Tournament Winner in 2013

We sat down with Korey Sprengel after his second NWT tournament win in 2013 in Green Bay, WI.

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

I thought it was going to be a pretty good tournament for myself and our team.  We had figured out a bite where we started concentrating on big fish. If we ended up getting about five or six big bites a day we could really do well in the tournament and land in the top of the pack. We had also figured out some areas near take-off that we could head to in the afternoon if we needed to quickly fill our limit with some small fish. It all came together during prefishing—we figured it out early and basically duplicated as many areas with big fish as we could.

How did day one go in the tournament?

Day one started off a little breezy in the morning.  Basically, we were taking a 25-mile run north, so it took us a little over an hour to get to our location.  I was boat number ten so I was quite a ways ahead of everyone else. So I had some time to do a little fishing by myself. I started out and with my first pass got nothing.  Basically every pass that I was throwing afterwards, with gold and perch colored crawler harnesses and ½ oz weights, produced a fish. By 9:30am, I already had my five fish and by 11:30am I was bringing in my last fish. We’re only allowed six fish in the live well and no culling, so once the six fish are in the box we’re done.

I headed back in at 11:30am and I weighed in and won. I was the first boat to weigh in and everything went great—I got the bites that I wanted to. I kept a couple of smaller fish where I could have waited it out—but the fish in these tournaments are a lot of points too, and I wanted the Angler of the Year title, so I knew that I had to come out of the day with a limit. You can’t win the tournament on the first day, you can only lose it, so I knew I was going to be in a good position for day two.

Did you try anything that didn’t work?

I couldn’t get anything going in the morning—I never caught a fish during my first pass and had to keep bouncing around until I found an active spot of bigger fish to work over. Once I found that, my first spot didn’t work at all but I ended up pulling my last fish from there. It was just one of those things—once you find the fish you have to take what given to you. I found a very small spot where no one was fishing, so I had it completely to myself, and I plucked them out one at a time.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

How did day two go—was it the same or did you do anything differently?

Day two started off windier than day one for take-off—it was rough out there, it was definitely a Ranger boat kind of day.  It took quite a while to get to our spot—I’ve got to say about an hour and fifteen minutes. I took my time to get there, I didn’t want to beat myself up because it was my long day and I didn’t have to be in until 5 pm. By the time I got up there, the wind had actually laid down quite a bit so it was almost perfect fishing conditions.

I knew right away that the water temperature was a lot colder than it had been. I knew that it would affect the fish, but I didn’t know it would affect them to the extent that it did. You could see a lot of guys running around at first, which I knew wasn’t a good thing. I ended up catching one fish about an hour into day two and by about 11 am I still only had that one. I started checking water temperatures around there and knew it wasn’t right so I had to leave.

I had to search for warmer water and at about 12:30pm I found a couple of spots and one spot in particular had warmer water and the conditions were right. I knew fish lived there because I saw boulders and rocks where I knew they live. During my first pass I lost one and then again in my second pass. But then I started to get one fish per pass again. So by 2:30pm I had my six fish in the live well already.  That was a good feeling—I knew that if I could get a limit on that last day it was going to be huge—it couldn’t have worked out any better.

So, you took first…what were your weights both days and what did you win for taking first place?

My weight the first day was 39.80 and my second day weight was 35.24.  The check I won read $73,300—basically $18,000 in cash and a 620 Ranger.

Korey NWT Trophy

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Wow, that’s a lot of money! How does it feel to have your second NWT Tournament win this year?

It feels awesome—I mean, from what I’ve heard, there hasn’t really been anyone who’s won two tournaments in one season on the tour-level circuit. Green Bay is one of my home bodies of water and my favorite places to fish—to finally get a win there feels awesome. The biggest thing that I wanted to get out of this tournament was to stay on top for that Angler of the Year. That’s decided on Devil’s Lake in September but I’ve been working for points in that and that’s my goal this year—to win Angler of the Year. You know, I won another tournament along the way which is great, but my goal is that title.

So what happens if you win Angler of the Year? What’s the benefit of it, other than bragging rights?

Well, for one it means you’re the most consistent angler for the whole year. As far as the money aspect—you will get the entry fees for the entire next year paid and a trophy, ring, stuff like that. I guess the bragging rights is the biggest part of that…

How much does it cost to enter each tournament?

It’s $1,500 to enter each tournament and there’s a side pot deal where it’s an extra $300, so it comes to about $1800.

What upcoming tournaments do you have on the books?

I’ve got a tournament coming up in August—it’s the MWC National Team Championship in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan. It’s on the Canadian border on St. Mary’s river. Then there’s the final NWT event on Devil’s Lake in September. Then in October I have the MWC Championship up in Michigan.

Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap up this interview?

I’d like to thank krugerfarms.com and the krugerfarms team. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without Bill (Shimota) and Dusty (Minke) the whole year. Our team has worked great and basically everywhere we’ve gone we’ve been super competitive. It shows in our points that we’re always in the top. We just work very well together—breaking down a body of water and executing around tournament time. With Bill and Dusty, even if we have a bad day or don’t catch what we want, at the end of the day we’re back at the cabin laughing and smiling. That’s the biggest thing, to keep the flow going and to keep your spirits up.  We kind of feed off each other and that keeps us all going.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Recap of the Masters Walleye Circuit – Lake Winnebago Event

We sat down with Korey Sprengel after another strong finish–this time, in the Masters Walleye Circuit event on Lake Winnebago.

How’d you guys finish?

Derek Navis and I finished in 6th place out of 118 boats, with 29lbs 3oz, and won $2,750.

Korey and his partner after Cabela's MWC. Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Korey and his partner after Cabela’s MWC. Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Can you tell us a little bit about the MWC tour and Lake Winnebago?

The Masters Walleye Circuit is a team format tournament and is one of the oldest circuits–it’s been going for 29 years. Lake Winnebago would be considered my home lake, at around 30 minutes from my house, it is the largest lake in Wisconsin. It’s considered a system–made up of four lakes and many rivers–so there are endless areas to cover.  It makes for a very diverse tournament!

How was your experience prefishing? What tactics did you use to get prepared for the tournament?

Prefishing was a little tough for me. I caught a ton of walleyes each day (40-50) but many were in the 12-14 inch range. There is an area that I know well, and expected to spend a lot of my tournament time fishing, but I only spent one hour during prefishing in this area so that I could concentrate on locating areas for big fish. I mainly trolled crawler harnesses in golds and purples on mud flats and shoreline breaks. I also casted Berkley Flicker Shads on main lake points and pitched Berkley Ribworms on 1/4 oz jigs in the river.

Did you change your plans for day two or stick with what you did in day one because you had success?

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

We stuck to our same day-one game plan which was trolling. This was a no cull tournament: we were allowed to keep six fish but we only weigh five, leaving us one fish for insurance. So, we stuck to our same plan and only kept fish over 22in if we caught them before noon. Right away in the morning, we threw back three fish from 18-21 inches and kept one at 24 inches. With strong northeast winds at 15-20 mph, our area got too stirred up and muddy.  With 1 1/2 hours left, we gave up on it and just went to get a limit in the box. We started casting main lake points with Flicker Shads in purple tiger and firetiger and caught a 19 inches fish with 15 minutes to go. I told my partner that we needed to get the trolling rods back out and troll for the last 10 minutes, so we put as many baits in the water as we could to try to get a limit. Before we got our last Off-shore Planer Board out, we had a 21-incher on the floor, then another short fish, and then we lost 4-5 more fish! It was just chaos during those last ten minutes! Because we ran it til the last second, the Mercury-powered Ranger was full throttle all the way to check in, and set down with 15 seconds to spare.  We used every minute we had that day for 3 fish!

When is your next tournament?

My next stop will be National Walleye Tour at Sturgeon Bay,WI. It’s one of my favorite places–I can’t wait.

Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Always give it your all and use every second you can because it might just pay off.  The last two fish in the last 10 min of fishing were worth over a $1000.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Recap of National Walleye Tour-Lake Erie Event

The krugerfarms.com 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 krugerfarms.com 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 Korey Sprengel on Masters Walleye Circuit in Wisconsin

It is National Fishing Week, so we thought you’d all enjoy an interview with Korey Sprengel after another successful tournament!

So, Korey, tell us a little about last weekend’s walleye tournament?

I participated in the Masters Walleye Circuit on Green Bay in Oconto, WI and took home fourth place (out of 103 boats) with a total of 49lbs 5oz.  I received $3350 for my win—which is awesome. I’m pretty happy with how everything went, and how I finished…well, besides the fact that I lost one big fish.

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Prefishing was great—we caught up to forty fish in a day and many of them were in the 26-29” range. We went into the tournament knowing the winds were going to change, so we had to keep in mind that we needed to remain flexible.  We took what we learned from practice and focused on fishing areas where the wind was right.

What gear did you use during the tournament?

We used off-shore planer boards, pulling crawler harnesses with 1/2oz inlines, #5 Colorado blades, or #4 1/2 willow blades in gold or perch patterns.  We also used Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon for leader material at 1.1-1.3 mph and switched to Berkley #9 Flicker Shads to pick up a few fish.

What was your biggest challenge?

Definitely trying to keep up with the ever changing winds.  It would switch from calm to windy and vice versa.  Each area we fished had its own ideal conditions—the shallow areas needed wind and the deep areas didn’t, but they were 12 miles apart which complicated things.

Any closing thoughts?

I have to say that my Ranger boat was a key to my success during this tournament—we travelled up to 70 miles a day through 4-5 foot waves and didn’t beat ourselves up or our fish.

I’m getting excited about the NWT tournament next week at Lake Erie. Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke will also be participating. We’re getting ready to head there to prefish and are hoping for another strong finish!

Korey on the water during the Masters Walleye Circuit Event.

Korey on the water during the Masters Walleye Circuit Event.

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 krugerfarms.com 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 (Krugerfarms.com, 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, KrugerFarms.com, 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 krugerfarms.com Twitter and Facebook accounts—come join us!