National walleye championship heads upriver to God's Country

So, we're getting some new visitors to La Crosse next week.
In case you haven't heard, the Cabela’s National Team Championship is moving from the Quad Cities area to Pools 7, 8 and 9 of the Mississippi River right here in God's Country, La Crosse.
The event is scheduled May 17-19. That's great news as far as the expected local economic impact of about a half million bucks. It's good for anglers, their followers and local fishing fans alike. La Crosse is a great place to work, live and play.
A press release from The Walleye Federation earlier today said the event was moved to La Crosse because of flooding and damage from a barge to Lock and Dam 11 near Dubuque, IA.
“For more than a year, river anglers from across North America have been planning to visit the Quad Cities area for the NTC’s first trip to the Mississippi River, but Mother Nature had other ideas, and due to forecast flooding we are forced to move the event to a different site along the river,” said Robert Cartlidge, president and CEO of The Walleye Federation, which organizes the event.
“We exhausted all safe possibilities to keep the event in the Quad Cities as announced,” Cartlidge added. “Unfortunately, water conditions there just would not support that goal. I want to thank the Quad Cities for all of their support on this decision to move.  They have been great to work with throughout the planning and relocation process, and we will try to go back there for an event someday.”
Cartlidge also acknowledged the support of Cabela’s NTC anglers, many of whom had spent months planning their Quad Cities visit. “We thank everyone who has been patient throughout this transition and the flooding issues,” he said. “Last-minute changes are something that no one likes, least of all us, but the relocated NTC has quickly taken shape into a fine championship event, thanks to the hard work of our staff. I am very proud of them to put all this together almost overnight.”
As a result of the move, Explore La Crosse is now hosting the  national championship.
The Cabela’s NTC draws hundreds of two-person teams from the U.S. and Canada, who qualified for the event through local TWF-sanctioned competitions.
This year’s NTC field features 200 teams competing for a minimum of $250,000 in cash and prizes, plus 50 custom Cabela’s All-American rings, trophies, travel stipends, plaques and more. First prize is $25,000 in cash plus a brand-new Mercury-powered Ranger boat. A second Ranger-Mercury combo will be awarded through the Ranger Cup contingency, meaning the victors could take home more than $165,000 in cash and prizes.
The entire field competes the first two days. Each team is allowed to bring their best five fish to the scale each day. Only the top 25 teams advance to the final round on Saturday.
Take-offs and weigh-ins are at Veterans Freedom Park located on the west side of Clinton Street on French Island.
Take-offs begin at 7 a.m., with weigh-ins at 3:30 p.m., each day.
The weigh-ins are being streamed live online at walleyefederation.com. The action will also be filmed for national television airing on NBC Sports’ “Americana Outdoors” and the Pursuit Channel. Dates and airtimes will be announced at walleyefederation.com.
Dale Radcliffe, director of the TWF-sanctioned circuit Mighty Miss Walleye Series, assures anglers the move will not affect their ability to enjoy world-class fishing.
“This section of the Mississippi has an excellent walleye fishery ranging from Lake Onalaska on Pool 7 to the vast channels and winding backwaters of Pools 8 and 9,” he said. “The river has several strong year-classes of walleyes and sauger, with many fish in the 20-inch-plus class and some occasional bruisers over 10 pounds. Typical May weights are in excess of 20 pounds for a four-fish limit on our circuit.”
Water levels in La Crosse are receding quickly, but additional rain predicted this weekend could slow the daily declines.
“Things are slightly delayed about two weeks in the walleye world here right now.” Radcliffe said. “The spawn wrapped up in the last week, so many female walleyes will be just coming out of a recovery period and be ready to put the feedbag on. The event dates should be perfectly timed to this part of the year where an expected 4- to 5-pound average will be the norm to cash a check.”
Sponsors include Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Ranger Boats, Pepsi, Geico. Mercury, Explore La Crosse and TWF. For details, visit walleyefederation.com, or contact Jeremiah Burish at Explore La Crosse at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 608-782-2250.