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.