May 29, 2012—Minnetonka, MN—More than 500 of the world’s top walleye anglers will battle in a tournament of epic proportions 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 Cabela’s NTC is one of the most prestigious walleye tournaments in the country. Teams qualify by accumulating points through competition in local tournaments organized by more than 50 sanctioned grassroots walleye clubs across the United States. Now in its 28th season, the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit is the longest-running professional walleye tournament circuit in the United States.
This will be the 11th edition of the NTC and mark the fifth time that the Cabela’s NTC and Cabela’s MWC have paired up to host two tournaments in one. Over 250 two-person teams were registered for the event, which is expected to offer more than $300,000 in cash, prizes and sponsor contingencies.
Two-hundred and twenty-three teams vying for top honors in the Cabela’s NTC are competing for a $30,000 cash first-place check, plus a brand-new, custom-rigged, Evinrude-powered Ranger 621 valued at $60,000. A second, similarly decked-out Ranger will be awarded to the top Ranger Cup team in the Cabela’s NTC.
On the Cabela’s MWC side of the tournament, 131 teams are registered to battle for a purse already topping $75,000 in cash. Sponsor bonuses including Cabela’s Angler Cash, Berkley Baits, Okuma Premier Team, Ranger Cup, Lowrance HDS/Elite DSI and U2 the Oxygenator add more than $4,000 to the table. Plus, anglers have the option of entering the Big Fish Pot, which pays cash awards for the top three walleyes each tournament day, and could add at least $6,500 to the payouts. Teams fishing both events are in line for a payday topping $180,000.
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. 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.
The tournaments will be run together, allowing two-person teams to participate in one event or fish both simultaneously. The Cabela’s NTC features teams that qualified by earning points at more than 50 sanctioned grassroots walleye clubs across the country.
“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 invitations.”
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.
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 17- 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, 75,000 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.
The public is invited to the weigh-ins, which begin at 3 p.m. daily at Izaty’s May 31 and June 1, and 3:30 p.m. just north of Isle and McQuoid’s Inn off Highway 47. The Cabela’s MWC, National Professional Anglers Association, Pure Fishing and Zippo Outdoor Brands will present a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after the first day’s weigh-in. The first 50 youths will receive rods and reel combos, and one lucky family will win a Zippo Outdoor Family Camping Package valued at $100.
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.
This is the fifth of nine Cabela’s MWC qualifying tournaments on the 2012 schedule, which includes the Illinois River at Spring Valley, Illinois March 24-25; 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 (in conjunction with the Cabela’s NTC); Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, June 29-July 1; Lake Oahe at Pierre, South Dakota, July 28-29 (in conjunction with the Cabela’s Regional Walleye Championship); 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.
Teams fishing three or more Cabela’s MWC tournaments compete for berths in the no-entry-fee 2013 Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Championship. That event offers more than $100,000 in cash, including $25,000 for first place.
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. Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is entering its 11th season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Zippo Outdoor Brands, NBC Sports Television Network and the North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Okuma, O2 Marine Technologies, Reflections, The Walleye Federation, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Gemini Sport Marketing and RPM Outdoor Sports.