–Presented by the North American Fishing Club
April 16, 2011—Trenton, MI—Rain, wind and foul-weather boundaries didn’t stop the 112 teams competing in the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit’s Detroit River tournament from putting up big weights on Day One of the MWC’s Eastern Division opener.
Due to strong winds and a National Weather Service small craft advisory with predictions of wave heights from 7 to 13 feet on Lake Erie, anglers were limited to the Detroit River. Despite the reduced boundaries, the teams brought 485 walleyes weighing a total of 3,047.69 pounds to the MWC scale—of which a full 91 percent were released alive back into the river.
When the fish-fest was over, Greg Bliznik and Keith Greear, both Brownstown, Michigan, led with 43.49 pounds. Jeff Vereeke of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Joe Lockman of Middleville, Michigan, were close behind in second with 41.85 pounds.
With the mighty Detroit yielding world-class numbers of walleyes, 81 teams tallied 5-fish MWC limits. Big fish of the day was an 11-pound behemoth brought in by Dave Schmidt and Mark Zillges, both of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The catch earned the team $1,280 for first place in the Day One Big-Fish Pot.
The action resumes Sunday, April 17. Teams launch from Elizabeth Park in Trenton and weigh-in begins at 3 p.m (EST). First place pays $16,350 and the event pays out to 22nd place at $750. Total cash purse is $58,240. Plus, sponsor contingencies from Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Lowrance, Berkley, Worldwide Marine Insurance, U2/The Oxygenator and the Big Fish Pot add thousands more to the total.
Walleyes and walleye anglers are a winner in the equation as well. Since 1992, the MWC Conservation Fund has donated more than $175,000 to fisheries-enhancement projects in states where our tournaments are held. At the Detroit River event, a $15-per-boat donation from each team’s entry fee—made via the MWC’s non-profit affiliate Wildlife Forever—will benefit the Downriver Walleye Club’s efforts to protect the local fisheries.
The MWC and National Professional Anglers Association presented a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after today’s weigh-in. Youths received rods and reels thanks to the NPAA and Berkley, and tackle packages courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle.
This is the first stop on the MWC East Division’s 2011 season. The remaining Eastern schedule includes Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio, May 20-22, and the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 26-28. The MWC’s 2011 trail is comprised of nine qualifiers in three divisions. Anglers fishing at least three events (from any division) accumulate points toward a berth in the no-entry-fee, $100,000 Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Championship; teams fishing four events are in the running for overall MWC Team of the Year honors and a $13,000 cash prize.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is entering its tenth season as title sponsor of the MWC. Official sponsors include: Berkley Gulp!, Ranger Boats, Mercury, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Fishouflage, Versus (Vs.) Television Network and North American Fishing Club. Associate Sponsors include: Berkley Trilene, Energizer, O2 Marine Technologies, Northland Fishing Tackle, Ryjus, Reflections, Worldwide Marine Insurance, The Walleye Federation, Sea Grant and Wildlife Forever. Now heading into its 27th season, the Cabela’s MWC is the oldest team circuit in walleye fishing.