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.

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

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!