Winter Sales Deals at KrugerFarms.com

Late winter into spring is when most anglers, hunters and outdoorsmen stock up for the upcoming year.  Christmas is behind us and we may have a bit of a tax return coming in the near future, so now is the time to score some deals and stretch your dollars a little farther.

The first place you should look is the Winter Clearance section of the Kruger Farms website.  You will find some sweet deals on Shimano, TriggerX Walleye Plastics, UnderArmour gear, Jackall hardbaits, decoys, blinds, hunting gear and much more!

KrugerFarms_Winter_Clearance

And for all of you Sitka fans out there, check out the annual Sitka sale we are having which is 20% off through the end of February.

Sitka_Sale Don’t see what you are looking for in the sale sections, we have great hunting and fishing merchandise throughout the store and adding new stuff all the time.  Recently we added GoPro action camera and much more.

Leave a comment for things you would like to see offered at KrugerFarms.com!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe at the bottom of any post to be in the loop on all future sales.

 

Christmas Gifts for the Walleye Angler

Pro-staff Contributor:  Dusty Minke

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

Stocking Stuffers

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

JIggin' Raps

JIggin’ Raps

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

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

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

very very Nice list

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

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

Shimano_stradic_CI4-KF

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

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

Christmas gifts for the Ice angler

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The direct message inboxes on my social media pages always start to get busy this time of year as the wives and girlfriends of my fishing and hunting buddies send me messages looking for ideas on what to get their “significant other” for Christmas.

For those of us that live in the north or in the “Ice Belt” as we like to refer to it, ice fishing is an activity that keeps us busy for four or five months out of the year.  Winter is long and there is no better way to spend time in the outdoors than by fishing on the ice.

Here are some great gift ideas to cover several price ranges for the hardwater angler on your list, all available on the ICE FISHING page at KrugerFarms.com.

Ontario Sunset Country Walleye

Gussy with a Ontario Sunset Country Walleye

Stocking StuffersFresh fishing line always helps catch more fish in open water and on the ice.  Power Pro Ice Tek is a top-notch braided line designed specifically for ice fishing.  It is specially coated to prevent freezing so anglers can fish without having to constantly clean ice off their line.

The Strikemaster Bait Puck is a handy little item that can be used to store things in our pockets.  I have used these for years for store tackle, live bait and other small items I want to keep dry or protect.  They are great for those remote, back country trips where packing light is a necessity.

Gussy_Ice_Fishing_Crappie

Gussy Ice Jiggin’ for Crappie

 Nice list

Tip-ups and Combos

Anglers can never have to many fishing rods – so a new combo is always welcomed.  Depending on what your gift recipient likes to fish for, there is an ice fishing rod and reel combo that will work for them.  Anglers that fish for panfish like perch, bluegills or crappies should consider light or medium light action rods.  Walleye anglers should look at medium action rods, while pike and lake trout anglers should be using medium-heavy or heavy action rods.

Many anglers use good quality fishing rods in winter but team them up with mediocre reels.  This is a mistake because if you hook into a big fish, you’ll want to have the quality drag that comes with a good reel.  I use Shimano Sedona 500 size reels on my panfish combos and 1000 size models on my walleye and trout rods.  These reels are still affordable, while offering a big upgrade from the reels the come with most rod and reel combos.

A fleet of tip-ups is always handy, especially if the angler on your list especially likes to fish for pike.  Fishing dead baits under a tip-up with a quick-strike rig remains the number one technique for catching big pike, no matter where you fish.  My favourite is the Frabill Thermal 10” Round Tip-Up because it helps prevent your hole from freezing and they are very easy to store in a regular five gallon bucket.

Monster Hard Water Northern Pike

Monster Hard Water Northern Pike

Keep’em Warm!

Like most winter outdoor activities, keeping warm is one of the biggest keys, but with ice fishing even more important, as you find yourself standing on a giant sheet of ice.  Two key things to keep you warm are to have good base layers and proper footwear.  Nothing keeps you warm and dry like Under Armour Base Layer products.  For that special someone’s feet, consider a good pair of insulated boots or wool socks.

very very Nice listIf you really want to spoil somebody with a great gift, KrugerFarms.com can help you out.

Hans down, the best suit on the market for the serious ice angler is the Frabill SnoSuit.  I have worn this suit for several years and I can promise you that it is warm and extremely comfortable in any kind of nasty winter weather, and trust me, I get to test it out over the course of our long, Canadian winter.  It is well built with plenty of cool little features designed for ice fishing.  It will last for many years on the ice!

Most serious anglers own a flasher or depth finder of some sort (a fish finder/depth finder device) and most of them would probably not even consider hitting the ice without one.  They allow us to check the depth of the water, see fish that are below our hole and watch how fish interact with our lure.  For the past five years I have used the Humminbird ICE 55.  It is very easy to use and will increase any anglers catches on the ice.  If you think your angler could use an upgrade on their flasher, this is the one you want.

Ontario’s Sunset Country Region (www.ontariossunsetcountry.ca) where I live is one of the top ice fishing destinations in North America.  With over 75,000 lakes across the region there is no shortage of water to fish!  If you would like the plan the dream ice fishing trip, visit the link above and you can find the lodge or outfitter to help you plan your trip.  Many of the top TV fishing shows, outdoor writers and photographers visit this region every winter to take advantage of all of the great fishing opportunities that exist here.  I promise a great trip!

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

3 Keys to Fall Walleye Fishing

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

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

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

So here are my 3 keys to fall walleyes:

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

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

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

JillnD2013CrownCanada

Dress for the Weather

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

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

NWT 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.

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.

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

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

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

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

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Dusty prefishing for the LLWT.

Dusty prefishing for the LLWT.

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

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

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

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

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

What gear did you use during the tournament?

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

What was your biggest challenge?

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

Dusty and Coach with their wall bling.

Dusty and Coach with their wall bling.

How did you finish and what did you win?

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

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

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

Any closing thoughts?

Dusty and the Crown Royal Blended Whisky girls in Nisswa.

Dusty and the Crown Royal Blended Whisky girls in Nisswa.

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

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

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

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

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

Interviews from the Mississippi River National Walleye Tournament

The team after the NWT event!

The team after the NWT event!

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

 Have you all been fishing together in the past?

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

Dusty – We work together as a team. In this way, we can dissect water and patterns in a short period of time. We started hanging out a few years ago and started the 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!