After an exciting season spanning seven states and millions of acres of prime walleye water, all eyes will be on Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, for the grand finale of the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit season-the 2012 World Walleye Championship.
Slated for Oct. 18-20 on Pools 9 and 10 of the Mississippi River, the Championship pits 48 elite two-person teams from 14 states against one another for more than $100,000 in cash-including $25,000 for first place-plus thousands more in sponsor bonuses from Cabela’s Angler Cash, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Berkley, U2/The Oxygenator and the MWC’s Big Fish Pot.
Teams qualified for the 2012 World Walleye Championship by earning points during the 2011 Cabela’s MWC season at world-class walleye destinations from Lake Oahe to Lake Erie. Each spot in the field is by invitation-only, carries no entry fee, and is coveted amongst tournament anglers.
Rich in fishing talent, the field is led by the 2011 Team of the Year, Jim Preissner of Chilton, WI, and Mike Olson, of Andover, Minnesota. Reigning Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Champions, Wisconsinites Dan Zwick, of Wrightstown, and Tony Kobriger, of Chilton, will also be on hand to defend their title.
The Championship returns to Prairie du Chien for the third consecutive season. Last fall, 37 teams enjoyed great fishing, led by Zwick and Kobriger, who weighed in 40.89 pounds. Their go-to tactic was positioning their Ranger 621 VS over a main-channel break dropping from 10 to 12 feet, where they fished 3/8-ounce jigs tipped with 3-inch, Pearl White Berkley PowerBait Ripple Shad. “Our Lowrance HDS 10 with StructureScan was critical to finding and fishing our top spot-a small point jutting into the channel,” Kobriger noted.
Championship qualifiers will compete three days for the largest total weight. Teams are allowed to bring five walleyes, saugers or saugeyes to the MWC scale each day, and the fish will be released back into the Mississippi River. The Championship also ran for five consecutive seasons at Prairie du Chien, from 2002 to 2006, and if past history is any indication, it could take more than 55 pounds in total weight to win this prestigious event.
Weigh-ins all three days begin at 4 p.m. at Winneshiek Marina just north of Prairie du Chien, and are free and open to the public. Each day, raffles will be held for free Cabela’s gift cards. Immediately following Friday’s weigh-in, kids are invited to attend a free Youth and Family Fishing Clinic presented by Cabela’s, the Cabela’s MWC, Pure Fishing, Zippo Outdoor Brands and the National Professional Anglers Association. The clinic will be held at the MWC tent outside the Cabela’s store, where the first 50 kids will receive a new rod-and-reel combo courtesy of the NPAA and Pure Fishing. In addition, MWC anglers will assist the youngsters in getting their new rods ready for fishing. There will also be a special raffle for additional prizes donated by Cabela’s, and one lucky family also will win a Zippo Family Camping Pack valued at more than $100.
Adding to the excitement, the catch-and-release tournament will be filmed for airing later this year on NBC Sports. At press time air dates had not been set; check masterswalleyecircuit.com for showtimes. Tournament coverage also extends to North American Fisherman magazine-which serves more than 3 million readers, including 400,000 members of the North American Fishing Club-as well as 91,000 Fishing Club Facebook fans and a host of other media outlets.
Walleyes are winners in the equation as well. Since 1984, the MWC Conservation Fund has donated more than $300,000 to fisheries-enhancement projects in states where our tournaments are held. At the Championship, a $15-per-boat donation from each team’s entry fee will benefit efforts to protect the local fishery.
This is final Cabela’s MWC tournament of 2012, which also included nine qualifiers. The schedule included the Illinois River at Spring Valley, Illinois, March 24-25; the Detroit River at Trenton, Michigan, April 13-15; Lake Pueblo at Pueblo, Colorado, April 27-29; Lake Erie at Huron, Ohio, May 18-20; Mille Lacs Lake at Isle, Minnesota, May 31-June 1; Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, June 29-July 1; Lake Oahe at Pierre, South Dakota, July 28-29; the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 24-26; and Cass Lake, Minnesota, out of Stony Point Resort, Sept. 14-16.
The Cabela’s MWC is open to all two-person teams regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. Payouts are based on the number of teams fishing each event. Along with great odds of cashing a check, the tournaments offer exciting competition in a professionally-run setting. Plans are now under way for the 2013 season, with details on locations, registration and more expected soon. For more information visit masterswalleyecircuit.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (877) 893-7947 ext. 4.
Image courtesy Cabela's