While we sit here at the Iowa Great Lakes with ice still covering our lakes, just south of here Storm Lake is void of ice, and wader fishermen and boat fishermen are already working the waters for walleyes. According to Chip Binning of Binning Outdoors in Storm Lake, "We're good to go!"
Among them are anglers on the Iowa Organization of Walleye Anglers (I.O.W.A.) Team Walleye Tournament Trail preparing for the first qualifier of the season on Sunday, April 5. The Storm Lake qualifier is hosted by King's Pointe Resort of Storm Lake and will be the first of four tournaments on the I.O.W.A circuit.
"It's early in the season, " said Dean Higgins, who along with his wife Chris, owns and directs the I.O.W.A. circuit, "but the walleye bite can be awesome when the ice goes off the lake this early."
Higgins added, "We are very excited to be coming to Storm Lake. King's Pointe Resort, one of our corporate sponsors, is hosting the tournament and providing the winning team with two 'weekend getaways' at their fine establishment. The fishery can be dynamite, and if we get the right weather, I know the teams will bring some great weights to the scales."
A mandatory rules meeting and question and answer session will be held on Saturday evening starting at 6:30 p.m. at AWAYSIS Ballroom at King's Pointe Resort. "These pre-tournament meetings have proven to be very productive. We can answer a lot of questions, go over all the rules and also the way we want to run our take-off and weigh-in procedures," Higgins.
Take-off is at 7 a.m. at the Storm Lake Marina and weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. sharp. "This is a great place for people to come and witness the weigh-in. It's an opportunity to not only see the fish the teams bring in but to also hear what they did to catch their fish," said Higgins.
Host bait shop is Binnings Outdoors in Storm Lake, and Higgins also noted that he is partnering with Chip at Binning Outdoors to help them host their own tournament later in April. "We plan on bringing all of the equipment back to Storm Lake to help them with their tournament. We'll use our scales and computer system to help out."
In addition to the typical 80 percent payback based on number of entries, sponsorships this year will continue to help provide additional cash and prizes at all events. "We are really proud to be able to offer our teams the awards we do, and it all comes down to our sponsors," said Higgins.
Lund Boats will continue to offer their $500 Lund Boat Bonus for the highest placing team fishing out of a Lund boat at all four qualifiers and the State Championship. Several other corporate sponsors are offering special awards: The Humminbird Team of the Year, MinnKota Family Team of the Year, the Cabela's Family Team Award, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts Award and the Wright County Motors $500 cash bonus.
Higgins also shared great news for the I.O.W.A. Circuit. "We are a qualifying event for the Cabela's NTC National Team Championship with the top three teams qualifying for the 2010 event. We also just received news that the I.O.W.A. circuit will have a spot in the new AIM International Championship held on Minnesota's Lake Winnibigoshish this fall."
Corporate sponsors for 2009 include Lund Boats, Mercury Outboards, ShoreLand'r Trailers, Brightwell's Boathouse, MinnKota, Humminbird, Berkley, Cabela's, Smooth Move Seat Mounts, FCIS Anglers Choice Insurance of Forest City, King's Pointe Resort of Storm Lake and Wright County Motors of Clarion.
For more information, check out the I.O.W.A. website at (www.walleyepromotions.com) or call (515) 571-1085.