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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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