GREEN BAY – The competition for championship walleye is on in Northeast Wisconsin. The 13th Annual Cabela’s National Team Championship kicked off Thursday morning and runs through Saturday.
A local fisherman says he had a “home field advantage” on the first day of the walleye tournament. He was ready for the wind.
“Started out a little choppy this morning then at the midday, it kind of slowed down a little bit with the weather,” said Pat Schuette of Manitowoc. “The wind slowed down. Then it picked up again this afternoon, and I think the bite picked up with it.”
Schuette and his teammate Kevin Adams of Shawano say they caught five fish.
“Our smallest fish is 24 and three-quarter inches, so we’re sitting pretty good,” said Schuette.
Competitors are able to fish a big area for this weekend’s tournament. They can drop a line in the Fox River or head as far north as Gills Rock in northern Door County.
A fisherman from Iowa arrived Saturday to scout out the water, but it hasn’t paid off yet.
“Prior to today we had great fishing,” said David Murray of Carlisle, Iowa. “We had some nice fish Monday and Tuesday and then yesterday the water temperature dropped about 18 degrees and we caught a few fish yesterday and we didn’t have any bites today at all.”
There are nearly 500 anglers in this weekend’s tournament. They come from 38 different states and Canada.
Green Bay tourism officials expect the events will bring $1 million to the area.
“We were very excited to win the bid,” said Brad Toll of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s very competitive. They look at a lot of different areas.”
It’s Richard DeMatteis’ first time in Wisconsin. He’s from Boyers, Pennsylvania.
“Fishing was good,” said DeMatteis. “We could have had our limit but they were all just little.”
He was eager to show off the three fish he kept.
“The only problem is getting them out of the freaking live well,” he said.
After the day on the water competitors brought their catch to the Lambeau Field parking lot to be weighed-in.
Weigh-ins will take place again at Lambeau on Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m.