Minnetonka, MN-Minnesota’s Cass Lake is the stage for high-stakes walleye drama this week, when more than 120 of the world’s best walleye anglers battle for tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes during the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament Sept. 16-18.
The tournament itself offers anglers $40,000 in payout, big-fish awards and sponsor bonuses including Cabela’s Angler Cash, Ranger Cup, Berkley Baits, Lowrance HDS, Cabela’s MWC Premier Team, and U2 the Oxygenator. Plus, because Cass Lake is the final qualifier of the Cabela’s MWC 2011 season, several lucrative team of the year races are also at stake-along with invitations to the no-entry fee, $100,000 2012 World Walleye Championship.
Teams fishing four or more of the Circuit’s nine 2011 qualifiers are in the running for Overall Team of the Year honors. With a $20,000 cash payout, $13,000 of which is paid to the victors, the race is hotly contested among anglers from across the MWC’s three divisions. Minnesotans Jim Preissner, of Hastings, and Mike Olson, of Andover, lead the pack heading into the Cass Lake event with 400.39 points. But the Western Division’s David Harmon, of Omaha Nebraska, and Scott Busteed, of Windsor, Colorado, are within striking distance. A finish of sixth or better would give them the crown.
The Western Division Team of the Year race will also be decided this week. With 116 different teams fishing the division this season, the Cabela’s MWC will pay $3,480 to the top five western teams. The top team will receive $2,262 and second through fifth each receive a $304.50 bonus. Harmon and Busteed lead the divisional race, with Fargo’s Spencer and Ron Deutz coming on strong in second. Divisional family awards, including Husband and Wife, Brothers, and Father and Son titles, will also be awarded.
As the 2011 season winds down, Cabela’s MWC teams are also vying for berths in the $100,000 no-entry-fee 2012 World Championship at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The Circuit invites the top 45 point-accumulating teams that fished at least three tournaments (including 25 spots reserved for “Premier” teams that registered prior to the earlybird deadline last winter). Cabela’s National Team Championship winners, reigning Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Champions, and MWC qualifier winners who fished at least three events are also invited, provided they did not qualify through the points race.
Weigh-ins will be held at Stony Point Resort, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The two-day tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday, Sept. 16 and conclude Saturday, but a built- in “bad-weather day” allows for two full days of competition if foul weather prevents teams from getting out either Friday or Saturday. The MWC’s Tournament Hotline- (952) 988-7247-is updated daily, and will have information if a weigh-in is cancelled.
Adding further excitement to the event, the Cabela’s MWC and National Professional Anglers Association will present a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after the first day’s weigh-in. Along with hands-on fishing tips from MWC anglers, youths will receive rods and reels donated by the NPAA, plus tackle kits courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle and other great gifts.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is in its tenth season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Fishouflage, Versus (Vs.) Television Network and North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Energizer, O2 Marine Technologies, Northland Fishing Tackle, Ryjus, Reflections, Worldwide Marine Insurance, The Walleye Federation, Sea Grant and Wildlife Forever. Now in its 27th season, the Cabela’s MWC is the oldest team circuit in walleye fishing.