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Rossford to host walleye tournament

02/21/2017, 12:20am EST
By By MATT MARKEY BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

Event takes place on Maumee River, Lake Erie


The spring walleye run on the Maumee River is about to get more grand with the addition of the Rossford Walleye Roundup & Festival. THE BLADE

The spring walleye run on the Maumee River, already a major phenomenon throughout this part of the country, is about to get more grand.

Bring on the big boys — the best of the best walleye anglers around — to take part in an event that should coincide with the robust early season fishery that brings spawning walleye into the river by the hundreds of thousands, and also stacks them up around the reefs and traditional spawning areas on the lake.

The Rossford Walleye Roundup & Festival has been hatched through the combined efforts of the Rossford Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bass Pro Shops, and the city of Rossford. The event takes place April 1-2, and features $20,000 in prize money.

The Rossford Marina will serve as the launch point, and the tournament organizers are anticipating a field of 40 two-person teams for the event, with a gala final weigh-in and awards ceremony taking place at Bass Pro Shops at 5 p.m. April 2.

The “festival” side of the event will feature informational displays and seminars, kids’ activities that include a fishing derby, food trucks, music, and more during the weekend at Bass Pro.

Beth Genson, executive director of the Rossford Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the notion of hosting an event of this magnitude has been on the table for several years. She said the agency’s close relationship with Bass Pro made a fishing tournament a viable choice.

“We’ve considered various options, always looking at what else we could do to get the community more involved, and highlight this great resource we have,” she said. “We were fortunate to have Bass Pro here, not only as one of our biggest attractions, but as someone very familiar with fishing. They brought in some people who know more about this than we do.”

Scott Liebert, general manager of the Rossford Bass Pro Shops store, said a fishing tournament with that large of a field and significant prize money takes a ton of planning, fine-tuning the rules, and putting the organizational apparatus in place.

“It is a big undertaking, but when Rossford called us and said they wanted to do it, we got on board, rolled up our sleeves, and got it done,” he said. “It has taken the work of a number of dedicated partners to put this together, but with their efforts it has all fallen into place.”

He said although the huge outdoors equipment supplier has sponsored numerous bass fishing events around the country, this is the first walleye tournament Bass Pro has staged.

“And since this is the walleye capital of the world, it seems fitting that this is the place to do it,” Liebert said.

He added that because the tournament launch takes place on the Maumee River, and at the time the event is held the river is historically loaded with spawning-run walleye, there will be no “bad weather day” like those built into the schedule of most Lake Erie tournaments. The competitors in the Rossford Walleye Roundup will have the option both days to fish the river or the lake, and if the lake is too rough, then the river is the obvious option.

One of the first hurdles the event had to clear was finding a place on the calendar, because spring is traditionally flush with walleye events in the Midwest, especially on and around Lake Erie and the Detroit River.

“That is one of the things we learned, that there are whole circuits of walleye tournaments across this part of the country, so we had to pick some dates that did not conflict with any other major tournaments,” Genson said. “I think the way it worked out, we’ll be the first one for this whole area.”

The tournament organizers are bringing in Gary “Bo” Bowman, a veteran competitive angler from Michigan, to serve as the tournament director. Genson said area hotels are providing special rates for the tournament participants, and a rules meeting and reception for all of the anglers is being planned for the evening of March 31.

The first-day weigh-in will take place at the marina. Registration fee is $500 per team, with the payout based on the number of entries received. For updates, details on the official rules, registration information, and special hotel packages, visit roundup.comrossfordwalleye or call the Rossford Convention & Visitors Bureau at 855-765-5451.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.

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