Feb 24, 2011—Minnetonka, MN—The world’s top walleye teams are gearing up for the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit’s annual season opener on the Illinois River at Spring Valley, Illinois, March 26-27.
By all accounts, it’s shaping up to be quite a party. For one thing, this section of the Illinois River—rightly called the Sauger Capital of the World—is primed for world-class sauger fishing. “We weighed more fish at Spring Valley last year than in the three previous tournaments combined,” says on-site tournament director Dan Palmer, also a veteran guide, tournament angler and river fisherman. “And I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone break the Illinois state sauger record.”
The ever-changing Illinois sets the stage for a high-stakes shootout among the nation’s top competitive walleye teams. With a $30,000 first-place paycheck and more than $100,000 in cash up for grabs (based on full field), teams pull out all the stops to catch walleye and sauger gold.
Plus, 2011 marks the 25th consecutive year the Cabela’s MWC has visited the Illinois River. Local coordinator Bill Guerrini and the Spring Valley Walleye Club are commemorating the milestone with a fundraising banquet Wednesday night before the tournament. The event will feature many past MWC Spring Valley winners, along with former MWC executive director Bob “Kaz” Kaczkowski. (For details, visit the Club’s website, www.spring-valley-walleye.org.)
While the region’s heavy snowfall has led to concerns about river levels, Guerrini assures anglers that conditions are shaping up for a great event. “In the past two weeks, we went from several feet of snow and 10-below zero to bare fields and 60 degrees,” he said. “The river has crested and is on its way down. We can’t predict what Mother Nature will give us in the next month, but we can guarantee the best tournament possible, and anglers who come to Spring Valley will be treated like royalty!”
As it has for the past quarter-century, the Spring Valley Walleye Club will monitor the river closely to ensure safe conditions for MWC anglers. “Safety is our top priority,” Guerrini promises.
Kaczkowski, who ran the MWC from 1984 through his retirement in 2004, will also emcee tournament weigh-ins. “I’m very pleased at being asked to emcee the 25th anniversary of the Spring Valley Cabela’s MWC tournament,” he said. “My wife, Beverly, who was an integral player in the success of the tournament and the circuit, will be joining me. We are looking forward with much enthusiasm to re-establishing the family-type relationship we experienced with Bill Guerrini and his fellow members of the Spring Valley Walleye Club, the community and the DNR staff of the LaSalle fish hatchery. This event stands as a benchmark as to how a fishing tournament should be conducted. And I have to admit, I can’t wait to get on that stage again.”
Two-person teams still have time to sign up for the tournament. A late fee kicks in March 7, and registration closes Monday, March 21. For details, click on the Registration tab above, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is invited to the weigh-ins, which begin at 3 p.m. daily at Barto Landing in Spring Valley. The MWC and National Professional Anglers Association will present a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after Saturday’s weigh-in. The first 50 youths will receive rods and reels, and tackle packages courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle.
This is the first stop on the MWC Central Division’s 2011 season. The remaining Central schedule includes the St. Croix River and Pools 3 & 4 of the Mississippi River at Red Wing, Minnesota, June 3-5, and Bays de Noc, Michigan, August 5-7.
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.