It’s on! It’s live! It’s in person! It’s the 45th Annual Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce Walleye Tournament. The two-day 125-boat community event combines homecoming and fun with a serious competition.
Teams fish Friday and Saturday, June 25 - 26 for the $6,500 guaranteed first prize. Cash payout is more than 100-percent of team entry fees; dozens of valuable prizes and cash have also been donated by local merchants. Sunday, June 27 is reserved if weather shuts down a tournament day.
Johnnie Candle, tournament director, said, “It was not an easy decision to cancel this prestigious event last year, but everybody is fired up to get back together.” The tournament is only for walleyes this year. Prize money previously designated for other species will be added to the purse.
Carley and Spencer Deutz, Fargo, claimed first-place in 2019 with 50 pounds. This will be their fifth Chamber tournament together. He started fishing the Chamber tournament in sixth grade with his dad. “We had no clue, and wondered how all the other teams could catch so many walleyes. With time and persistence, things came together. Now, I fish several major walleye tournaments annually.”
The Deutz family has a camper on Devils Lake where they spend many days on the water. With a family that includes 3-year old and 7-month old future fishermen, his time at home is more important than in the boat. For their win, the couple fished standing/flooded timber with slip-bobbers. Hooks were baited with leeches.
Spencer chuckled when he related the family nature of the Devils Lake Chamber tournament. He had to wake his wife to net the final fish on day two to secure their victory. “I expect really good fishing this year,” he said. He will also conduct a free youth fishing seminar after Saturday’s weigh-in at Grahams Island State Park with rods and reels for the first 50 kids. He conducts more than 10 youth seminars each year.
The largest walleye each day is worth $500 from Proz End of the Line and Proz Lakeside. The second largest daily walleye earns $250 from NDTC and Horizon Financial Bank. Blue Sky Realty and Ironhide Equipment reward the third largest walleye with $250 daily. The biggest walleye will be mounted free-of-charge by Pooh’s Taxidermy.
Farmer’s Union Oil and Jerome Wholesale provide plaques to top teams. State Farm Insurance – Kevin Vistad honors the mixed couples top team with $250. Klemetsrud Plumbing and Heating pays $250 to the team with the largest one-day catch. The $500 Hot Seat Slumberland Furniture award goes to the person who guesses closest to the winning weight. Enter at Slumberland; don’t have to be a contestant to enter a guess. Blake’s Marine Power-Up award is worth $400 to the team advancing the most places from day one to day two. Sleep Inn and Suites honors the “Sleeper” team (dropped the most places from day one to day two) with two nights free lodging. The seventh place team earns a $100 bonus from Real Estate 7. The 41st place team wins a scholarship and goodies from Lake Region State College.
If the 125-boat field is full by June 17, an additional $1,500 will be added to the purse by Devils Lake Chamber and Tourism. Local sponsors Scheels, Devils Lake Tourism, Ottertail Power Company, Moore Engineering, Newby’s Ace Hardware, Lakes Liquor, CHI St. Alexius Hospital Devils Lake, RadioWorks, Sunshine Clinic, Nikolaisen Land Company, Old Main Street Café, Ramsey National Bank, and Gerrells Sports Center have added $8,500 to the prize purse. In early May, the tournament was 60 percent full. Entry forms are on the Devils Lake Chamber Website.
Team lunches are provided by CoJack Snack and Pack, Leevers Foods, Farmers Union Oil, Grubbersputz, Walmart and Schwan Wholesale. Lake Region RadioWorks will live-stream weigh-in ceremonies.
Go to https://devilslakend.com/ for the latest information about the Devils Lake walleye tournament, car shows, fairs, parades, shopping, resorts, camping, birding, hiking, casino and more. Maps of launch site locations with fish cleaning stations, fishing piers for handicapped, trusted guide services, and fishing reports are updated often. Check times/dates for the special Facebook on-water live-streamed Johnnie Candle Fishing Seminars.