FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 9, 2019 One thing, no two things, you can count on when fishing huge Lake Sakakawea this time of year: high water and low temps. And both will be right on schedule when anglers hit the water in this year’s AIM Weekend Walleye Series Warrior Boats/Pure Powersports Open, the first North Dakota division tournament of the year.

“Ya gotta love those daily 40-degree temperature swings in North Dakota right now, and this Sunday looks typical to add to the mix of Lake Sak’s high water, with overnight temps Saturday in the 30s, and pushing the mid-70s Sunday,” said Denny Fox, AIM National Tournament Director. “Add lots and lots of walleyes and a great local headquarters to that mix, and it’ll definitely be a fun day on the prairie for our anglers.”

One team locked in to be there for the fish and a chance at that first place check is led by Cody Dukart, who, when he’s not fishing, runs a 2,500-acre 400-head cattle ranch.

He’s taking time out from pitching food to his critters to pitching some lures at Lake Sak’s walleye. He’s betting that because of water still in the low 40s earlier this week, most boats will head west to a six-mile stretch of river that’s been hot.

“The lake condition right now is a bit stained. Water temperatures are starting to warm up for us finally. The last report I had, it was at 42 degrees last weekend.” Um, that’s only 10 north of frozen, Cody. But, he added that he’s heard it’s come up more since.

“Fish are getting more active as they move into post-spawn areas and start resting up and chowing down.

He said he may just be among the boats looking to run west. “Look for a lot to run to probably a six-mile stretch of water holding pretty good fish. Tactic-wise it’ll vary from cranks to guys pitching plastics into the shore,” Dukart added. And, he’s also predicting that because of the lake’s current great forage base and great year-classes present, it’ll take upwards of 34 pounds to finish atop the field. “There are some pretty good fish being caught right now,” he said.

So why does a rancher, in one of the busiest times of the year for ranchers, forsake “chasing cows,” as he called it, and head to the water? Besides the money, fishing an AIM tournament is absolutely a blast, he said.

“I’ve steadily fished AIM the last three years, and I do enjoy it, and the Catch-Record-Release™ format. It’s very fair to all the fishermen involved. And the aspect of fishing the series with a state championship and a national championship involved, and the possibility of getting to the national by being in the top five in Team of the Year, or top five in the state finals” is a big reason.

That Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout he’s talking about will be taking place in his home state this year, not far from his home outside Dunn Center: on the Missouri River in Bismarck-Mandan. It’s coming up in less than a month. And, if Dukart qualifies this year, he’ll be fishing the 2020 Shootout somewhere, on a water body to be announced.

”The entry fees are also reasonable. You don’t have to travel that far. Most are within three hours of my house. That’s pretty nice,” he adds.

Another, regular in AIM’s North Dakota stable is Casey George of Minot. He bought the NoDak season ticket for all four events this season, and he’s also looking forward to finishing high enough to claim some of that Warrior contingency cash because he’s competing in one.

And, he’s also betting the action Sunday will be to the west.

“The water warms up faster there, and I don’t think the big fish are down the system that far yet,” he said. But, that’s about as specific as he’ll get right now. “Some guys will probably run pretty far, but it also could be won two miles west of the launch,” he said slyly.

“We haven’t been down to the lake recently but it’s pretty high. I’m hoping the fish will be up shallow,” George said.  “They like to go into the new drowned trees and weeds when the water’s high. There’s an abundance of fish in the system and I think it’s now one of the best destinations in the Midwest for walleye you can find.

“The last couple of years we’ve had high water and there’s now a lot of smelt in the system, and that’s helping the walleye population stay high like it is,” he said.

”This is a really fun tournament series and I love the format,” George added. “I wish all tournaments would go to this style to save the fishery. I’m big on letting those bigger girls (spawning females) go and making sure the fishery stays healthy.”

That’s the driving force in all AIM tournaments, and when you fish one, you are adopting that save-the-resource philosophy, so the children of today’s anglers and their children will be able to enjoy what we enjoy today, which on Sunday in New Town, will push off from the 4 Bears Casino launch.

Team registration begins at 5 p.m. Saturday at the casino, followed by the rules meeting. Sunday begins early with boat inspections starting at 5:30 a.m. Boats get the “go” sign starting at 7, and must be back at the check-in location near the casino starting at 3 p.m. The awards ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at the casino’s Marina lake side.

For updates all day Sunday via Garmin Fish & Hunt, go to our Facebook page, and for information on all AIM tournaments and how to register for the next three North Dakota events, go to our website.


Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™) is a unique tournament organization created and owned by many of the most accomplished and recognizable professional walleye anglers, along with others who share the mission of advancing competitive walleye fishing and making it sustainable into the future.


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