May 7, 2014
It hasn’t been that long since the lakes of Minnesota were ice-covered, and the only fishing taking place was through a hole that was drilled with a big old auger, but summer is now upon us, and the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament in Walker is proof positive of that.
This year’s fish-off is the sixth annual tournament, and it’s the biggest one yet, says event Communications Director Gretchen Gribbon.
“The LLWT has 155 teams, and payout goes to the top 20 teams, with the first-place team winning $13,000,” Gribbon says. “The tournament filled by mid-February, this year, which is a month earlier than in 2013.”
The big prizes aren’t just for the top three, either – in 2013, almost $40,000 in cash was awarded, with 2nd place earning $7000, 3rd earning $4000, and 12th through 20th places each getting $400. The chances of winning money, it turns out, are pretty good.
It’s not hard to imagine that the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament is gaining in popularity, what with that $13,000 top-prize pot at stake. So, who’s competing? “There is a adult/child, female/male and a male/male category,” Gribbon says.
The event will continue to grow with time, Gribbon says, but 2014 is still mostly about the fishing. “This year, the tournament is more for just the teams,” she says. “We are looking at making the event more of a family event, next year, with activities taking place in the park.”
The tournament came about partly as a way to show off the impressive walleye fishery recovery that has happened in Leech Lake since 2005, through the work done by the Leech Lake Fishing Task Force, which has stocked the lake with over 100 million walleye fry.
It’s a labor of love for the community, says Gribbon: “The tournament is run by volunteers, with most of them coming from non-profit groups. The LLWT tournament makes a donation to each of these groups.
The Leech Lake Walleye Tournament gets underway on Friday, May 30th with registration, a dinner, and a rules meeting, and hooks go into water the next day at 7 a.m. in Walker City Park. Weigh-in goes from 3 to 5 p.m., for those who might just want to see what was pulled from the lake. Sunday, June 1 also starts at 7, with a weigh-in at 3. The event-ending awards ceremony begins at approximately 5:00 p.m., on that day.
Discover more at leechlakewalleyetournament.com.