Green Bay’s “Shark Fin” area was the place to be for Shawn Kahut and Brett Walser for the AIM Weekend Walleye Series/Berkley Open Sunday, July 19, using Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows made by Berkley to boat 34.33 pounds and win not only $8,000, but incentive bucks as well from Garmin.
“Little tips and tricks will often bring you a win, and it was the case with these two,” said Denny Fox, AIM national tournament director. “They headed south, found a school in the waves and trolled a mite faster than those using crawler harnesses. Finding the fish with their Garmin LiveScope unit also earned them another $500 in Garmin Rewards cash.”
“Our side pot of $100 per team brought 26 teams out of the field to enter, and that was all given back to the three highest placing teams entered,” Fox said. For Kahut, of Fond du Lac, and Walser, of St. Cloud, WI, however, this was the first side pot they failed to enter in the four qualifiers they were in. But that’s fishing.
While pre-fishing the area they eventually won in was calm and easy, the weather continued bumpy on Sunday for their approximately 10-mile run to the fish they’d found. The key? The walleyes were hanging right by their dinner: schools of alewives they were able to see on their Garmin.
As Kahut said, their Garmin unit was critical to finding fish they wanted to run through. “With this unit, you do not fish unless you see fish. And I always say, if you don’t have it, good luck beating me.”
That’s why they chose to run crank baits, specifically those Berkley lures, including Number 9 Flickers. They snap-weighted the minnows and let the shads mostly run free.
During prefishing, they checked most of the bay from Chambers Island south. “We also had fish farther north, but with the way the winds were going we decided to go south. And when we found them south, we started hanging lures and figuring out what was working best,” Kahut said.
“It’s worked for us the last couple of years. We had to follow schools of alewives around. You’d look to see where those schools were. You’d zig-zag and all of a sudden you found them. If you weren’t in the schools, you weren’t catching fish. They’re constantly moving (they were trolling about 2 mph) and because we were covering more ground, when the cranks were going through them, the walleyes were picking them up.”
On Sunday, he said, you could run down the shore to stay in calmer waters, but once you got out where the fish, you were looking maybe at three, four-footers or more. “I think harnesses don’t work as well in waves in my opinion. It’s hard to control your speed. That rough water hurt a lot of those with harnesses,” Kahut said. They only got six bites, staying in about 25 feet of water at first.
“Our first pass, we got two right away, on was a 24-incher an the next a 24-1/2.When we ran back up we got another two, and then we made a pass and didn’t get anything,” he said. Kahut and Walsler decided to edge out a bit deeper, and that three extra feet difference won it for them.
“Brett said let’s go out, and we went to 28 or 29, and a board went off, and we got our 28-3/4, and that was around 11:30. The rest of the day we never caught a fish. The wind really picked up at midday. It just turned the fishing right off,” he said.
“Maybe it was because you couldn’t get your speeds right with the boat surging so much, anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 mph. It seemed like a lot of guys just gave up. We came in at 2:45 and there were a lot of boats already packed up.
“We knew we were going to be in the top five, but we were looking for one more to finish (as we all do, right?), but it was enough to win. We figured someone would come in with 35 to 38 pounds, and they didn’t.”
Friends and fans told them they’d won before they saw it themselves at AIM’s Facebook page.
Kahut and Walser will be another team to contend with at the state championship, for several reasons. One of which is a biggie.
“I live on Winnebago and I’m hoping to spend some time out there and give it everything I’ve got. I’m hoping we’ve got a shot at Yamaha Team Of The Year. The first two tournaments we didn’t do that great, but we should be up there now,” Kahut said.
In second place was the team of Isaac Lakich of Richfield, and Tristan Beckwith from West Bend.
They’ve got another tournament coming up this weekend, also leaving from Oconto, so they were holding most of their cards close to the vest, but since they took second and $2,500 with only four fish—yup, that’s 4—that totaled 32.49 pounds, you can bet they may be after that same school later this week.
They also took fifth in the Garmin Open Saturday, and are looking forward to the championship, which will help determine that coveted Yamaha Team of The Year winner.
Because of Saturday’s weather, Lakich said, they threw out their game plan for Sunday. “We came up with a new one. “Everything we learned pre-fishing and Saturday went out the window, and we had to adjust, knowing that things were going to change. We capitalized on a couple of key bites and lost a couple of fish that might have helped us, but that’s fishing. You can’t count the ones you lost.
“We did completely different tactics and learned a lot about how fish react to a cold front.” He’s betting the big fish should be firing soon elsewhere in the bay, maybe even north, he said. He may be finding that out this weekend.
In third place, with 31.97 pounds, just a scale or two behind, were Jim Erdman and Jeremy Hurst, Saturday’s winners. They collected another $2,000, plus another $1,300 in first place side pot money (26 teams entered that Sunday). The second-highest team was the sixth-place team of Greg and Kathy DeKalb, and they got $780. The third place finisher and owners of $520 extra was the eighth-place team of John Schneider and Brian Wolter.
Fourth in the Berkley Open went to Patrick Neu of Forestville, and Randy Seidl of Appleton, with 31.87 pounds, good for $1,800. In fifth, Oshkosh residents Greg Golliher and Randy Harwood, who boated 30.67 pounds and $1,500.
Okay, Wisconsin, up next, turn south about one hour and change, and that’s where AIM’s Wisconsin State Championship takes place in Aug. 21 and 22 to wrap up the season, and determine who will be Team Of The Year. The top three scores from the four qualifiers, plus points at the championship will determine that.
Meanwhile, sit back and watch your neighbors in North Dakota duke it out on monstrous Lake Sakakawea this Sunday at Parshall Bay for that state’s final qualifier, with all the details from the water at AIM’s Facebook page. We’ll also have a preview later this week. It’s followed by the NoDak state championship from Lake Sak’s Beulah Bay on the lake’s south-central side, Aug. 14 and 15.
It’s Minnesota’s turn to head to Lake Winnibigoshish for the last of its state qualifiers Aug. 2 before the state championship on beautiful Lake of the Woods Aug. 28 and 29.
You can still enter one of those AIM’ remaining state qualifiers. Hop aboard and get the how-to details at the AIM website.