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The 21st Annual Walleye Masters is almost upon us, and organizers say it’s going to be a great year for the event.
“The goal is to bring back the Walleye Masters tournament to a level it was at in years past. There has been a bit of decline in the past few years, and we’re really working hard to inject new life into it and make it a fun event,” says Don Bruner, Chamber of Commerce representative for the Dryden Walleye Masters.
Dates for the event are June 19 and 20 this year, with the main venue being the Dryden arena. There was some previous controversy after a request to City council was rejected to waive the fees of the arena rental for the event.
Don Ames, Chamber Manager for the Dryden Chamber of Commerce says, “We received some support from the community in that regard, and the Dryden Marketing Association came on to help us with the sponsorship for that. They came with a $1000 sponsorship so we’re all okay for the venue.”
Prize amounts will not be a predetermined set amount this year, as they have been in the past. The goal of the Walleye Masters committee is to pay out more, to more teams this year, while still maintaining a very large grand prize.
“We’re hoping to structure the payouts based on the number of registrants we get in. If we get 75 registrants, we’ll have a different payout versus 100 teams,” reports Ames.
Morning checks will continue to take place at Government dock, with the weigh-ins taking place at the Duke Street dock. Beer gardens and a proposed trade show will take place in the arena, as well as the awards event.
There are currently 46 registrants, with an ideal goal of 100 entrants to celebrate the 100th year. Ames says the current registration numbers are above par at this point from previous years.
“The tournament will go on no matter what, but it looks like the public demand will put us right back into our normal numbers for the past couple years,” confirms Ames.
All key positions for volunteers have now been filled, but the committee will accept names of anyone who wishes to participate.
As with previous years, the tournament will be based on a catch and release system, with live bait encouraged and barbless hooks . As the centennial year, there are some proposed extra events taking place in the arena, but the tournament itself will remain the same.
With a dinner provided for anglers and their guests on Saturday evening, there is no scheduled late night entertainment, as the anglers have an early morning start again on Sunday. The committee is currently securing food vendors to be onsite during the festivities, which will attract more spectators out during the day, and their continued presence.
More information, including online registration, can be found at www.drydenwalleyemasters.ca or by calling the Chamber office.
– Ally Dunham