Walleye tournament gives boost to Green Bay economy

Boaters stage in the Fox River for the World Walleye Championship in Green Bay, October 6, 2016 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The search is on for a world champion walleye in the waters of Green Bay, and with 100 visiting anglers, area business leaders are hoping to cash in as well.

At the Green Bay Metro Boat Launch dozens of boaters circled the mouth of the Fox River, waiting for the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit World Walleye Championship to begin.

"The reason we're here in Green Bay, obviously it's Titletown, and the title of world champion is the most prestigious team walleye title you can get," said Dan Palmer, Senior Tournament Director.

For the next three days, 48 teams from 11 states and Canada will comb the waters of Green Bay from the De Pere Dam, north to Gills Rock.

"They have figured out so many different techniques to use, but what's going to determine what's going to win is the weather. Wind is a big factor on this body of water," said Palmer.

And there are other factors as well. Organizers say visitor spending goes beyond the boat landings. From hotels, to food and fuel, the economic impact of the three-day tournament is estimated to be $250,000.

"A lot of the guys we talked to last night were here for over a week. They came in last weekend and have been staying, pre-fishing on the water. So we're excited that all that additional spending is also here for the week as well as the weekend," said Joel Everts, Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

And as the boats leave the mouth of the Fox River, all that scouting will be put to the test. Fishermen say they are cautiously optimistic.

"We've been up here since Saturday. We pre-fished every day. It's been very spotty. Caught a few fish," said Brad Skupas, Wautoma.

"Couple of weeks ago, there was still a lot of nice fish being caught. Right now, with the winds that we had last week and stuff, that changed a lot," said Randy Harwood, Oshkosh.

"Haven't caught any big ones yet. One nice one. But it's been a tough bite, so we'll see how the anglers do today," said Gary Stanton, Kansas City, Missouri.

The catch and release tournament runs through Saturday.

Following Friday afternoon's weigh-ins, A children and family clinic will be held. The first 50 children will get a free rod and reel, and professionals will show how to catch fish.

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