Some things never change. Some things do. And, in the case of the 47th annual Devils Lake, ND Chamber of Commerce Team Walleye Tournament, the change is for the better.
Tournament Director Johnnie Candle, an expert walleye educator, World Walleye Champion and guide said, “In an effort to accommodate contestant’s schedules and knowing how valuable their time is, we made a major change this year.”
The event known popularly as the Chamber Tournament will now be a one-day tournament Friday, June 23. Saturday will be reserved as a “weather” day. Last year, the two-day tournament was reduced to just one day due to North Dakota winds.
Candle said, “We will continue to provide the best experience for participants.” The community hosts a special complimentary meal during the rules meeting Thursday. Entry fees at $275 per team with a guaranteed $6,500 first prize and the same generous payout as previously will be benchmarks for the tournament.
“Some may call it a one-day shoot-out, but after fishing hundreds of major league tournaments myself, I know the competitors will work hard to locate and catch fish. They’ll do it for one-day of fishing instead of two,” Candle said. Tournament organizers surveyed past teams and learned that time, travel and expenses were all important when making decisions to enter.
Suzie Kenner, executive director of Devils Lake Tourism said the Chamber tournament has been the biggest event that the area looks forward to year after year. The committee took into account the recommendations and feedback from contestants for the new one-day format. “The amount of great prizes donated by the business community makes this tournament unique. These prizes plus all the cash are unbelievable and create some very happy fishermen,” she said.
The current level of entries is actually ahead of past years. Boat numbers and order of going fishing on the tournament day will be based on date entries are received. March 31 is the early-bird deadline. All entries postmarked by March 31 will go into a drawing and five teams will receive a full refund of entry fees. Enter at devilslakend.com. Or, call 701-662-4903.
“Devils Lake is one of those places where the lake is almost a ‘new’ lake every year,” Candle said. “It changes. Last year, it came up more than three feet. With all the snow on the ground, it will come up one or two feet this spring.”
The lake is blessed with record numbers of walleyes based on fishery surveys. That means numerous year classes and quality fish. During last year’s tournament, the top five walleyes weighed 8.59 pounds, 8.37, 7.78, 7.76, and 7.14. Those weights are impressive anywhere.
Take-off and weigh-in will occur at Graham’s Island State Park. Fans enjoy the stage show, interviews with anglers, awards ceremony and a youth fishing seminar.
Lake, lodging information and everything Devils Lake can be easily located on the website devilslakend.com.