Big water, big fish, big prizes, big names and big business. Modern walleye fishing tournaments have become the NASCAR of the fishing world.
But do they also have a big impact on our walleye populations?
The “live-release” tournament format developed by organizers over the past several years requires contestants to use a properly aerated live well and make every effort to keep the walleyes alive for release after the weigh-in. A weight deduction is taken for any fish that is unable to swim upright in the official bump tank.
But do these efforts really work? How many of these fish really survive once released?
This is the topic of a multi-state research project being conducted in cooperation with FLW Outdoors, one of the premier walleye tournament organizers in North America. The impact study is being conducted by graduate students at the University of Minnesota, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is one of five state partners.