Devils Lake Chamber Tournament Guarantees $5,000 Top Prize and Fun
Just like the lake, the Devils Lake Chamber Walleye Tournament continues to grow. It grows in popularity every year. It grows in teams, payouts, walleyes caught and fun. First prize money, $5,000, is guaranteed. All funds raised go into the payout and conservation projects around the lake.
"This tournament has created a special bond among the anglers and the lake," said Rich Brueckner, Chamber executive director and part of the 1995 winning team, "After so many years, the teams look forward to the third weekend in June for some friendly competition." Dates this year are Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23.
As Devils Lake has grown from less than 40,000 acres during the inaugural 1977 Chamber tournament to upwards of 250,000 acres today, contestants will fish from the west boundary at the Highway 19 bridges to the Highway 57 and 20 bridges (east boundary). Launch and weigh-in is at Graham's Island State Park.
Tournament rules require all boats to be cleaned, officially inspected and an aquatic nuisance species sticker displayed prior to launching the first day on the water during tournament week. You can find the tournament inspection at Ed's Bait Shop, located on Highway 20. This is a no-cull tournament, with a maximum of six walleyes in the boat; five will be weighed.
Tournament director and emcee Johnnie Candle said, "I doubt if the 96 pound, 11 ounce winning weight caught back in 1984 will be broken, but anglers will catch lots of walleyes this season - the lake is loaded." He feels the 10.81 pound record walleye landed in 1989 is in jeopardy, however.
Two teams have won back-to-back, including Lee Murdock and Rod Medalen from Grand Forks, ND, in 1982 and 1983; and Larry Zimmerman, Napoleon, ND and Dennis Andruski, Grand Forks, in 2005 and 2006. Last year's winners, Dave Harmon from Omaha, NE, and Scott Busteed, Windsor, CO fished Devils Lake for only their second time. Harmon said, "We trolled in 3 to 4 feet of water every morning for most of our fish, then went deeper after 10 a.m. It will be tough to duplicate, but this is a great place to fish."
The Chamber tournament is much more than a long-running community event. It highlights the lake's bounty with special cash awards for the largest walleye, northern pike, white bass and perch daily. Those entering by March 31 will be entered into a drawing, and five teams will have their entries paid, compliments of local businesses.
For information on the Devils Lake Chamber tournament, lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake will be open this season), activities, guides, lodging and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.