SIOUX CITY, Iowa (Iowa Media Wire)– This weekend is the 42nd annual Walleye Weekend, which brings people from several states to the Okoboji area for a fun time, and in turn boosting the local economy.

“Ten fish are tagged and released in the chain of waters that includes Big Spirit Lake, and then East and West Lake, that entire chain of lakes here in Iowa Great Lakes,” Kiley Zankowski with the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce said. “If they catch one of those ten tagged walleyes, you win $42,000.”

While fishermen will soon flood the Iowa Great Lakes with their boats searching for a tagged fish, even if they come up empty-handed, they could still win another event that’s going on. 

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“There is another contest going on during Walleye Weekend for the biggest panfish, biggest stringer of panfish, biggest stringer of bull heads, biggest northerns, and then the biggest three walleyes,” Stan’s Bait and Tackle owner Mason Wharton said. “And what we do is when they bring those fish in, we weigh them and we measure them, and then we chart that information down so that they can gather it at the chamber.”

Currently, there are about 1,000 people from 14 different states registered for the Walleye Weekend, and Iowa Great Lakes officials expected that before Friday at least 2,000 fishermen would be signed up, bringing in the unofficial start of summer tourism.

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“They’re dining in our local restaurants, they’re staying in our local hotels, they’re filling their cars and their boats with gas, they’re going to our grocery stores,” Zankowski said. “They’re spending their money here and really getting people excited and opening us for the summer season.”

“It brings a lot of business to us as well,” Wharton said. “It’s nice because we are a big multi-species bait shop, so we do cover walleye, panfish, bass, and pretty much anything you’re going to fish for in the lakes area.”

Fishing enthusiasts can set sail for Walleye Weekend on Saturday, May 4 at 12 a.m., with the event ending on Sunday, May 5 at 12 p.m.


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