CLEAR LAKE | For nearly 30 years, the Clear Lake Fishing Club has provided anglers from across the Midwest a weekend of fishing and fun during its annual Walleye Classic.
And this year, the two-day classic — in its 29th year — will return Saturday with much of the same, said Brad Bull, fishing club president.
“It’s a good event,” he said. “A lot of people can’t wait for this event each year.”
The catch-and-release tournament, which is presented by Iowa Falls Marine, features 100 two-person teams, including men and women, competing for the heaviest walleyes.
Bull, who isn’t participating in the tournament for the first time due to surgery, said the classic’s registration fills up early each year.
“The fishing’s usually pretty good,” he said.
The tournament begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Boats, which depart in two phases, are required to return to shore by 3 or 3:30 p.m.
A public weigh-in and awards ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. at Clear Lake City Park on Main Avenue both days.
“There’s lots and lots of room for people to see the weigh-in,” Bull said.
Bull said participants can weigh up to five walleyes between 14 and 22 inches. The team with the highest cumulative weight between the two days will receive a $2,500 prize, and cash prizes will also be given to 25th place.
“From a fisherman’s standpoint, even though the classic is always the third weekend in May, it’s not always won at the same spot or same location,” he said.
After the fish are weighed, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be on hand to return them to the water, Bull said, adding the lake is stocked with walleye annually because it doesn’t have a “self-sustaining population.”
“Not everybody catches the limit, but we’ll easily see more than 300 (walleyes) brought in a day,” he said.
This year, Bull said the water is “very, very clean,” which is different from years past, but he’s hoping for good weather.
Last year, the event took place during a torrential downpour and a lot of people went in early.
“Rain suits were a hot topic last year,” he said.
According to the National Weather Service, there’s a 60 percent chance of rain, and possibly a thunderstorm before 1 a.m., Saturday, and Sunday’s forecast is cloudy with a high near 67.
The tournament, which started as a fundraiser for the fishing club, is the largest event the club hosts annually. The fishing club also hosts Take a Kid Fishing the first weekend in June and a fall Walleye Classic the first Sunday in October.
Bull said the Clear Lake Fishing Club also, with the help of the DNR, tag 25 fish in April for $100 cash prizes. If someone catches a fish with the tag, they are asked to bring it to Clear Lake Bait and Tackle for their prize. There are 22 remaining.
After the tournament Sunday, the DNR will tag five additional fish, he said. Two worth $1,000, one for $500 and two for $250 in cash prizes.
For questions, call the Crazy Minnow at 641-357-2248 or visit www.clearlakefishingclub.com.