The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s National Walleye Tour will be making its way to Aune Osborn Campground beginning Thursday for two days of high energy angler excitement, live weigh-ins and even a clinic for kids to learn about the sport.
The National Walleye Tour (NWT) marks the second major tournament that the Sault Convention & Visitors Bureau has helped bring to the area this year following May’s National Team Championship. Over 100 boats will launch Thursday morning and Friday at 7 a.m. before returning for weigh-ins around 3 p.m. at the campground days.
As one of the premiere tour level competitions in the sport, the NWT brings anglers from across the country to the area. The field will consist of professionals who host TV shows to locals testing their skills against the sport’s best. All anglers compete both days with the winners being determined by the largest cumulative haul from both days.
“We have a good 10 local boats,” said the NWT’s Christy Shad. “There’s quite a few from the Canadian side (of the St. Marys River) too.”
A fully rigged Ranger boat plus $15,000 in cash (equal to a total over $60,000) will be up for grabs for first place. Payouts will be available for the top 28 finishers with second place starting at $20,000 and last place earning $3,000. Co-anglers, who include local participants and others who follow the tour circuit, will be on different boats each day, but also receive cash prizes based on how they finish within their division.
“Chase Parsons, his dad Gary, Keith Kavajec, and the whole Next Bite TV crew all fish this tournament,” added Shad, noting other pros such as Korey Sprengel, Mark Courts, and up and comers John Hoyer and Max Wilson.
Following the championship weigh-ins Friday afternoon, a “Future Anglers” fishing clinic for young fishermen and women will be put on in partnership with the National Professional Anglers Association and Future Angler Foundation. The clinic will begin roughly at 4:30 p.m., and the first 100 attendees will receive a t-shirt and fishing rod and reel.
The award presentation crowing the winner of the NWT will follow the “Future Anglers” clinic.
For the outdoor television enthusiast, the NWT on the St. Marys River will be featured on a pair of half-hour TV episodes that will air nationally and regionally. Up to 124 million viewers will be able to see the programs on WFN, CBS Sports, the Pursuit Channel, Fox Sports Net North, Wild TV Canada, Comcast Chicago Sports Net and more regional networks.
Aune Osborn Campground is located at 1225 Riverside Drive near the Sugar Island Ferry dock. The NWT will be the second of three fishing tournaments the CVB is bringing to the area this year. The Michigan B.A.S.S. National State Championship will round up the year with a tournament Sept. 12 through Sept. 15.