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Pro Tips


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Minn Kota - Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc.
121 Power Drive | Mankato, MN  56001 | 800-227-6433



Spring is a great time for jig fishing. When tipping with live bait minnows, I like to use a long-shank jig and double hook my minnows. This allows getting the hook back farther for short-biting walleyes. I like the Northland Tackle R-Z jig because it is super sharp. Even though it is a long shank, most people hook minnows through the lips, but there’s a big problem. Every time a weed or rock bumps the jig, you lose your minnow. Same when a short-biting walleye hits. Make it a weedless hook by double hooking the minnow.

Go in the mouth of the minnow with the point of the hook coming out through the gill. Bring the collar of the jig right up to the minnow’s lips and then turn and hook it from the bottom through the back. This will make sure your jig is weedless and snagless—for the most part, anyway. You’ll get those hook sets on the walleyes just trying to nibble on a half-minnow this way. It’s a great set up for shiners, sucker minnows, large fatheads or redtail, rainbow or chubs. It’s easy to do and keeps minnows on a lot longer. In fact, I’ve caught multiple fish on the same minnows. Bait is expensive and making minnows last and work hard for us is important. I like lively minnows and they actually wiggle more when double hooked in this way. I keep them in a Frabill aqua life aerated bait station and that keeps my minnows lively right up until I’m ready.

This technique means more bites and less snags and you’ll catch more fish. That’s what it’s all about. See you on the water!


Ranger Pro Mark Courts Respects

Veterans Through Fishing

Of all the anglers in the Ranger Boats' Pro Staff ranks, Mark Courts ranks at the top for passion and dedication to our U.S. Military Veterans
It's been a big year for Ranger Pro Mark Courts. Not only did he win the coveted award of Cabela's National Walleye Tour (NWT) Angler of the Year, but he fished alongside many U.S. Military Veterans along the way. He's made THEM the focus every day of the year. 
"I'm the lucky one, getting to do what I do," Courts said. "There are so many great folks who work and serve in our service organizations. I'm glad I get to point to them and their sacrifice every day."
Ranger Boats salutes his success and his work with our veterans.
Courts, along with Col. Scott St. Sauver, began TROLLING FOR THE TROOPS six years ago. "We want to make sure no veteran is left behind," Courts said. Their one-off event has grown each year and sparked much support creating outdoor events around the country. 
Along with developing a mental toughness, Courts attributes much of his on-water success to his Ranger 620FS.
"I would say one of the biggest advantages to my new FS-Series Ranger is the ability to be efficient," said Courts. "There's tons of storage. I try to keep really organized and with the changes to the FS this year, it definitely made a difference."
In addition to the new storage capabilities, Courts gave praise to the new hull design of the 620FS, which is designed for superior stability and straight tracking.
"I'm running the 620FS with an Evinrude G2 on the back," said Courts. "That package, by far, was the best performing boat on tour this year. Whether it was big water or making long runs, that combination was a huge success. But it comes back to efficiency on the water."  
Courts is finished with competitions for the year but is already looking forward to defending his title next year. 
"Mark's had an amazing career and has been a key part of our pro staff for many years," said Ranger Boats President Randy Hopper.  "It's great to see him have the success he's had this year on tour. He's a phenomenal angler and great representative for our brand. Knowing his work ethic, he's already busy preparing for next year." 


About Ranger Boats

Headquartered in Flippin, Ark., Ranger Boats is the nation's premier manufacturer of legendary fiberglass and aluminum fishing boats, which include series of bass, multi-species, fish 'n play, waterfowl utility and saltwater boats. Founded in 1968 by Forrest L. Wood, Ranger Boats continues its commitment to building the highest-quality, strongest-performing boats on the water. For more information, go to RangerBoats.com.



  Competing in tournaments for over 30 years with his son, Ranger Boats’ pro staffer Mark Raveling continues to fine-tune his approach. The duo sealed this year’s Team of the Year honors for the North American Bass Circuit (NABC) with their win on Lake Vermillion. Second place at Sturgeon Bay was another high finish plus a 12th place on Lake Wisconsin. A great deal of their success has included utilizing the Spot-Lock feature on Mark’s Minn Kota iPilot bowmount trolling motor. The set up is on Mark’s Ranger Z521 bass boat and he has a new Ranger 620 on order for next year.

  “It leaves you free to concentrate on catching fish, not maneuvering the boat,” said Mark when asked about the Spot-Lock feature. Not very many bass anglers use this feature; it is far more common for walleye anglers. “Yeah, the bass guys are just catching on,” according to Mark.

  Mark Raveling, 64, lives on the southeast side of Leech Lake near Longville, Minnesota, and his son, Shane Raveling, 44 and also a pro staffer with Ranger Boats, lives in Prior Lake. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we gel in the boat,” said Shane. “I mean, we’ve been fishing tournaments together a long time. Since I was 12.”

  They have always been a formidable team. However, last year’s season hit the skids when Mark experienced a heart attack and Doctors quickly performed bypass surgery in May. He spent the rest of the summer recuperating and slowly got back to short bursts of fishing at the end of September. “I could only be out for an hour or so at first. Had to build my strength back,” said Mark.

  This year, the trolling motor is making life easier. Finding the fish and getting the right presentation dialed in is still the prescribed hard work, but battling boat control on a windy day is no longer physically grueling. Mark lets the trolling motor hold their spot and focuses on fishing. “We still have to make good calls and there’s always a little luck involved,” said Mark, “but I’m physically not as drained and I have more energy.” Mark claims his Minn Kota motor is a tool that helps him relax and fish. “I have to contend with the elements—the wind and the water—but NOT the boat.” Depending on the GPS/Sonar pairings on board, this unique system can allow a lock on a compass-course setting, follow a depth contour from the sonar graph, and even chart a trail or a loop or tell the motor to follow the saved route. Hot waffles in the morning not included.

  How many anglers can finish the end of a pre-fish week and not feel beat up, ready to head into tournament days? Fishing for decades as a father-and-son team, winning tournaments and Team of the Year accolades are only a part of the payoff. Toss in having two grandsons (both age 15) who help with pre-fishing and compete in high school competitive fishing and Mark is almost giddy.

  “It’s all about family,” said Shane. His son, Mason, is one the high school fishing team competitors. Along with cousin, Carter, they are carrying on the legacy of the Ravelings.

  “I was blown away by watching Mark and Shane at the Sturgeon Bay and Vermillion events using this feature,” said George Liddle of Liddle Marketing Company, midwest manufacturer’s reprentative for Ranger Boats. “It is something that every big water bass fisherman needs to add to their tool box. When you combine the fishability of a Ranger and the Minn Kota i-Pilont Terrova Spot Lock feature it will add more fish to your live well.”

  After Mark’s heart attack last year, Shane told his dad at the beginning of this season, “Let’s do this while we can. You’re not getting any younger.” They had a great year this year and at age 64, Mark isn’t slowing down at all. “I’ve ordered a new 620 Ranger multi-species boat because I like how versatile that boat is for everything. I’ll take my Ranger Z521 bass boat down south for the winter and keep the new 620 FS Ranger in Minnesota for the summers,” said Mark.

  Two things you can count on: Mark will be in a Ranger Boat and he will have the new Minn Kota i-Pilot so he never loses the quality boat control he has grown to appreciate and depend on. “We get so we kind of hope there will be a blow and kick up four- to five-footers on tournament day,” laughed Shane. “We can hold our spot and handle it. Many of the other’s can’t.”

  To watch a video on the use of the Minn Kota Spot-Lock feature click here: https://youtu.be/m7NgpmcT_Ys

By K.J. Houtman http://tinyurl.com/houtman


Heiser Morris ArtifishalleyesWhile other walleye anglers panicked as “artificial only” tournaments emerged, Ranger Pro Staffers Troy Morris and Corey Heiser of North Dakota not only embraced it, they kicked it up a notch. The duo formed “Artifishalleyes” and launched a team with a mission to pursue the big toothy fish with ONLY artificial baits—all tournaments, all bodies of water—even if rules allowed live bait.


The result? More confidence and better out-of-the box thinking, they enjoyed a second place finish at the MWC Big Stone lake tournament and earned the MWC win recently at Devils Lake.


“We have so much more confidence now as we head to a new tournament,” said Corey Heiser, age 38 from West Fargo. Their comfort levels have grown since taking on this self-assessed constraint in March of 2014. “We’ve discovered we could be very competitive and we know we’re going to catch fish. It’s hard to argue with the results.”


The two make a great team.


Troy Morris was running about 80% artificial before this decision; already convinced it was the right direction. “I can get a lot more cast-and-retrieve presentations with artificial than with live bait, because I don’t have to stop and check. I know my bait is there,” said Morris. He has watched the light come on for others, how artificial baits give more time in the water.


Why do other anglers struggle to embrace artificial? “It's because they haven't tried other presentations,” said Morris. “They might not know how to rig the artificial baits; that’s why we are doing this—teaching people, showing how to rig the hooks. It increases your odds of catching fish when it’s done right, and we show people it actually does work.”


Morris and Heiser prove it in a competitive format, a controlled environment for conditions and bite. “It gives proof and credibility to what we're trying to do when we succeed in a tournament,” continued Morris.


Artifishalleyes.com hosts videos of how to set up various presentations on their website at artifishalleyes.com and the team shares their information via social media outlets like their Facebook page.


Many anglers believe the myth that a minnow, leech or crawler is the only way to trigger a walleye bite. “The biggest challenge for everyone is stepping outside of their comfort zone,” said Heiser. His go-to baits are the Berkley Ripple Shad, Berkley Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows as well as hair jigs. His strategy is not to mirror the live bait forage.


“I don't want to compete with something similar against the real thing,” answered Heiser when locals claim the live bait bite is the only way. “Maybe ripping jigging raps is better. Instead of competing on the deeper fish, maybe we will go shallow and find our fish.” The two have found success and they are fishing their own fish. “It’s never easy to win a tournament in a group 20 boats.”


“Ranger has played a big part in our success in the artificial bait program because boat control is essential,” said Morris. “The Rite-Track Keel design allows us to control our boats in a very specific way.” Morris and Heiser rotate using each other's boats for tournaments; Troy has a Ranger FS 620 and Corey has a Ranger FS 621. “Being with Ranger Boats is the best,” said Corey. “You’re at the top of the line. It’s nice to be in the best boat in the marketplace made by the best boat company in America.” Troy is not just on the pro staff but is a Ranger and Stratos Boats sales rep in the territory of Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and northern Minnesota. The superior handling—with ability to hold spot-on-spot control—is one of the advantages of fiberglass over aluminum boats, but especially the quality of a Ranger Boat.


Heiser is a partner in Games Galore Party Rental, home of inflatable and other party games such as bucking bronco or laser tag. Residing in West Fargo, Corey recently married Tera in August 2015, and they have four children between the ages of six and 16. Troy and his wife Connie live in Fargo and they have a son and daughter ages 16 and 17.  –  by K.J. Houtman

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