Target Walleye/Ice email

Hoyer’s NWT winning deets, Keenan goes out on top, Dial in crankbait color

Today’s Top 4

Hoyer thwacked ’em at the NWT Championship.

Fish-head John Hoyer is gettin’ pretty dang good at hoisting up oversized checks…. This time he got ‘er done at the biggest stage in walleye fishing: The National Walleye Tour Championship on Devils Lake, ND. Brought home the ‘dubyah’ with a 3-day bag of 67.73 lbs and landed a $97,320 [!!] payday:


For being such a detailed and organized dude, you should see how cluttered the inside of his truck is (lol):


Get the full winning deets in NWT’s Insider Report — few quotes:

> “It was a sand-to-rock transition that went from the bay to the point…basically a sand runway. The water was 8-10′ and they were feeding on perch. My fish weighed heavier because they were eating those perch…that made a huge difference.

> “What gave me the confidence to Spot-Lock for so long was how many fish I saw swimming by on my Lowrance. Just knowing how many fish were there was incredible.”

Caught 5 of his 15 weigh fish on slip-bobbers and leeches under 1/16-oz jigs. The other 10 came from a mix of Moonshine Shiver Minnows, Jigging Raps and Johnny Darters. Said he went through 300 baits [!] thx to all the stumps, rocks, you name it. #WorthIt

> “The best color was anything perch with an orange belly. I used the #2 Shiver Minnow, the #7 Jigging Rap and mid-sized Johnny Darters. In the wind yesterday, I would upsize baits.”

Here’s how he said he was fishing ’em…

Smaller baits: Hard snap and then follow them down.
Bigger baits: Lift it aggressively and then control the fall.

> “I wanted to slow the fall down. When you catch it, it planes out, and that’s when they get it. You’re giving them a chance to really eat it.

> “I’m numb…I have no idea how it feels. It’s not like anything. It’s not real. You don’t get the chance to win very often. I’ve had 3 of those chances in 1 year, and 2 went my way.

> “I said yesterday that I wanted Dusty to win, and that was the truth. I’ve already had the year of all years. It’s so weird. I was so excited for him when I saw his big fish today. I’m proud of what we both accomplished.”

No doubt! Keep doing your thing, man!!

Tommy “gunnnnzz” Kemos prototyped his way to 2nd.

NWT pro Tommy Kemos always seems to catch ’em, and the NWT Championship was no different — finished just 0.43 lbs [!] behind Hoyer to land in 2nd place.


Caught his fish on prototype Strike King walleye jigs — what makes ’em so different?

They have a crater/concave type of bottom that holds the bait up in the water column…also catch water and glide a little bit more than traditional jigs. Said the football-head jig (way more common in the bassin’ world) does a real good job of coming through the snaggy areas he was fishing.


> “I was fishing them [in 4-12′] with a variety of plastics, mainly a 3.5” swimbait and a ringworm. Bright colors were best, especially anything with orange.

> “…basically pitching the jigs under Brinesmaid Bridge in Pelican Bay. My other spot was a culvert about 3/4 of a mile away. The bridge is not a secret spot. Others were fishing it. I could keep an eye on the boats that were at the bridge…would fish the culvert until everybody left…didn’t want to show everybody the deal.”

Others were mostly fishing the sides while he was skipping underneath the bridge and using his Garmin Panoptix LiveScope to see where the fish were sitting. #RealLifeVideoGame

> “My electronics were huge for me this week. They allowed me to see underneath that bridge. Several times today when the bite slowed, I was able to scan back and forth and see that the fish had repositioned.”

The term “game changer” gets thrown around a lot in the fishing biz, but you def gotta see LiveScope in action. Here’s a quick 3-second preview from when Uncut Angling was using LiveScope to watch muskies eat in real time [mind-blown emoji]:


It’s almost scary having that kind of fishin’ technology in the hands of walleye hammers like Tommy….

Dusty Minke runs and guns to 3rd.

Guess Dusty Minke’s co-angler literally nicknamed him “Gunner” because he hit so many spots lol — doesn’t that sound like fun in 25-35 mph winds?! Paid off to the tune of 65.02 lbs and $15.9K:


> I had the big-fish spot near the ramp, otherwise it was one here and one there. I fished spots today that I never touched earlier in the week. If the wind was right, I would stop. I was fishing confidently and instinctively.

> “Caught 4 trolling jointed crankbaits (perch color) with leadcore in 10-15’…caught 5 jigging rocks in 20-30′ with a Northland Puppet Minnow (green UV)…and caught 5 casting shallow with either crankbaits or a Slurp! Jig and Impulse Paddle Shad plastic (perch color).”

> “We came in 1 fish shy on Friday and that cost us. I’m not upset with 3rd. I’m proud of how I fished this week.

> “I’m happy for my teammate [John Hoyer]. He’s a heck of a fisherman. Watching him progress and succeed has been awesome.”


Keenan crowned NWT AOY

Tom Keenan’s 5th-place finish at Devils Lake, ND event pushed him over the edge in the Angler of the Year race — meaning he was the most consistently good angler through all 4 NWT events in 2019. Way to put it together the ENTIRE season dude!


His primary weapon was a #5 Rapala Jointed Shad Rap. Said he probably won over $500K on that bait alone during his tourney career! #MustHave

Absolutely loves trolling ’em on leadcore ‘cuz:

> “I think that bait has the best vibration of any bait out there. If you grab some debris the bait will go out of line — you can feel it go limp…give it a rip and it’ll clean itself. …keeps you in the water.”

Sounds like he also picked up a few fish on the #5 Rapala Shad Rap RS = a plastic version of the original Shad Rap that has rattles:

> “It was cloudy, windy and rainy. They needed something loud and proud. They needed something they could hear and something they could see.”

> …targeted rockpiles and roadbeds. Instead of going down the road…intentionally hit the edge — smashing the crankbait into the side of the ridge. The top of the road was 14′ and the edge was approximately 10′.

Goin’ out on top!

After 30 years, Tom announced his retirement from competitive walleye fishing…he’ll be starting a new chapter in his life, working for Evinrude. He’s going out as one of the best and all-time-$$$-winningest walleye fishermen ever…who’s clearly still at the top of his game.

> “I set the goal to win AOY because I told my wife this was my last year to do it. It’s time to relax and enjoy fun-fishing. I’ve reached that time.

> “I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to fish a great, clean event. If Brett [King] would’ve won, I would’ve been fine with that, so long as I fished clean. To win it, to go out on top, it means everything to me.”



1. OH: Charter captains getting paid more…

…to work less…kinda:

> Area captains said it used to take 6-8 hours on the lake to reach their 6-fish walleye limit, but that was not the case this year. …often took only 2 hours to reach the limit…would try and slow up the process so the fishermen could spend more time on the lake, but they were more interested in getting back to shore.

Might have something to do with Lake Erie having it’s second-highest walleye hatch in history…again.

2. MN: Mille Lacs closure hurting local businesses.

> …the perception of a closure would usually involve a decimated fish population. “In reality, this economy/lake was closed because of a flawed quota co-management system. We have a healthy fishery up here that is teeming with walleye and other sport species — smallmouth, muskie and northern. There’s nothing that compares to this lake — we have big fish and lots of them. There are trophy-sized fish in all the species.”

3. Great Lakes region: Warmer water changing wear fish live.

> “If you like bass, things are looking good. But if you like walleye or cisco, things aren’t looking as good.

> “Summer surface water temps on the coldest Great Lake, Lake Superior, increased approximately 4.5 degrees F from 1979 to 2006, a significantly faster rate than regional atmospheric warming.”

4. MN: Green Lake walleyes in a decline.

DNR’s havin’ a public meeting tonight to talk about proposed changes, including a bag-limit drop to 3 fish. More info on what they think is causing the decline in this Northland Outdoors write-up.

Know some won’t agree, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a 3-fish bag limit statewide….

5. MN: Leech Lake MWC happenin’ Sep 20-21.

Max Wilson and Isaac Lakich are leading the TOY race going into this final event.

6. StrikeMaster’s gotta new ice suit comin’.

A float suit called the Surface:

7. SD: GFP’s got a couple public meetings coming up…

…about the discovery of zebra mussels in Lake Sharpe.

8. WY stocking bigger rainbow trout…

…in Wheatland Reservoir No. 3 so the walleye don’t eat ’em all….

9. ID: Tiger muskies being stocked in 2 more lakes.

Sterile hybrid muskies and northern pike.

10. WI: Striker is hiring seasonal warehouse staff.

11. New GM at Crestliner Boats.

Jack Martin, an internal hire.

Tip of the Day

Pay attention to where fish are hitting your bait.

Brad Hawthorne uses how/where fish are hitting his multi-colored cranks to dial in what they want. Interesting schtuff:


Hey Brad — I know you said you wouldn’t custom-paint cranks for anyone, EVER, but maybe you could break the rules this one time and make us the ultimate works-anywhere-anytime crank…? Thinking maybe something like this:


Quote of the Day

“It’s not about having time…it’s about making time”

– That’s Jeff Zierden talkin’ in this The Outdoor Report Facebook post. His goal at the beginning of the year was to get out 100 times in 2019…he’s at trip 98 so going to blow right past it. And Jeff’s not just fishing…he’s catching:


> “We’ve been getting some big fish trolling the inside weedlines on sand flats (4-7′) adjacent to deep water. Best baits have been #7 Rapala Shallow Shad Rap and #6 Rapala BX Jointed Shad….running them at 2.0 mph. We’ve caught three 30″+ fish the past 2 full moons. This particular fish in the picture was right on 30″ and 11.8 lbs.”

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Victoria Lafrance joined the 30″ club trolling Reef Runners along the 25′ edge of a feeding flat that dumps back down into the river channel:


Her boyfriend Taylor Klimczak (@705_true_north_angling) spilt the beans and said “it was early afternoon and she had just started a nap when it hit.” Lol! Been there.

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