A high-stakes yet friendly competition of epic proportions is brewing on one of the world’s premier walleye factories. More than 600 anglers from across the U.S. are expected to compete for over $350,000 in cash and prizes when the Cabela’s National Team Championship and Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit visit Mille Lacs Lake out of Isle, Minnesota, May 31-June 2.
The tournaments will be run together, allowing two-person teams to participate in one event or fish both simultaneously. The Cabela’s NTC features 250 teams who qualified for the event by earning points at more than 50 sanctioned grassroots walleye clubs across the country. The Cabela’s MWC tournament is open to all anglers, with registration opening Jan. 9.
“Cabela’s is excited to be returning to where the NTC started in 2002,” said NTC tournament director Lara Herboldsheimer. “The tournament has grown from just a few qualifying clubs in the first year to over 60 clubs vying for the 250 spots. The fishing should be excellent and provide for a competitive weigh-in.”
All teams will compete the first two days, with the Cabela’s MWC side of the event concluding the second day. The top 25 NTC teams on Day Two will carry their weights into a third and final day of competition. Weigh-ins are set for Izaty’s Resort Days One and Two, and McQuoid’s Inn the final day.
Both events offer potential for big winnings. Last August, Wisconsin anglers Derek Navis and Korey Sprengel scored a huge double-victory at the NTC/MWC dual event on Bays de Noc, Michigan, when 275 teams from across the U.S. and Canada gathered to battle for more than $300,000 in cash and prizes. Navis and Sprengel’s winnings included a pair of Cabela’s 50th anniversary-edition Ranger 619s rigged with Evinrude E-tec motors, plus more than $49,000 in cash and sponsor bonuses from Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Berkley, U2/The Oxygenator and PRADCO Outdoor Brands for a total payday topping $180,000 in winnings.
And in June of 2010, 358 teams battled for more than $350,000 in cash and prizes when the dual event was held on Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The massive, fun-filled event was also recognized by Guinness World Records as history’s largest fishing tournament. Given Mille Lacs’ great accommodations and walleye fishery, tournament officials expect a strong turnout this season as well.
|Tournament host, Mille Lacs guide and competitive angler Kevin McQuoid with a healthy Mille Lacs walleye.
Tournament host, Mille Lacs guide and competitive angler Kevin McQuoid expects teams to enjoy world-class walleye fishing throughout the event. “I’m excited about the prospects for a great bite and fantastic tournament,” he says. “The lake’s very healthy, with huge numbers of keeper-size walleyes, plus an abundance of trophy fish.”
McQuoid also expects teams to find fish across the 128,000-acre lake. “The fish will be spread everywhere, from shallow rocks and sand to deeper gravel and mud,” he explains. “And at the first of June, these fish are hungry. It’s typically a livebait bite with leeches or ’crawlers, but artificials do well, too, so anglers are going to be able to choose their favorite styles of fishing and really play to their strong suits.”
Indeed, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor Rick Bruesewitz expects anglers to encounter a “large 2008 year-class” of 14- to 15-inch walleyes, plus plenty more in the larger size classes. A 5-fish team bag plus protective 18- to 28-inch slot limit means the key to placing high will be bringing the right mix of “unders” and “overs” to the scale each day.
Adding to the excitement, the tournaments will be filmed for television airing on NBC Sports and other national networks. Media coverage will also reach North American Fisherman magazine’s 3.2 million readers, 50,000 Facebook fans of the North American Fishing Club, and a host of other venues.
To further safeguard the fabled Mille Lacs fishery, both tournaments are catch-and-release events featuring weight deductions for non-releasable fish. Plus, the Cabela’s MWC will donate $15 per boat toward local walleye conservation projects. To date, the Circuit’s Walleye Conservation Fund has donated more than $300,000 in cash to conservation in areas where its tournaments are held. The Cabela’s MWC is also working with the Minnesota DNR on steps to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Founded in 1984, the Cabela’s MWC is the oldest team tournament circuit in the walleye world. It has a rich history of intense competition on top destinations, plus youth outreach and a lasting legacy of conservation. Open to diehard anglers from all walks of life, the 2012 Cabela’s MWC trail includes nine qualifiers spread across six states in the Walleye Belt from Colorado to Ohio. Teams showcase their skills—and sponsor products—at world-class venues such as the Detroit, Illinois, Mississippi and St. Mary’s rivers, plus Lake Erie, Mille Lacs, Winnebago, Oahe and more.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is looking forward to its 11th season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, Lowrance, NBC Sports Television Network and the North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Okuma Fishing Tackle, O2 Marine Technologies, Ryjus, Reflections, Worldwide Marine Insurance, The Walleye Federation and RPM Outdoor Sports.
Registration opens Jan. 9 for all 2012 Cabela’s MWC qualifying tournaments. For more information, call (877) 893-7947, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.masterswalleyecircuit.com.