OKOBOJI, Iowa (KCAU) — Thousands will compete for a tasty treat on the Iowa Great Lakes this weekend — It’s Walleye Weekend at Okoboji.
Each year the Iowa Great Lakes Area kicks off Walleye season by tagging and releasing 10 walleye into the chain of Iowa great lakes. Fishing starts at midnight on Saturday, with $41,000 dollars up for grabs. The weekend is big for all kinds of businesses including hotels, restaurants, and bait shops.
So far, anglers from 15 states have registered to compete. Out-of-town guests pump plenty of cash into the economy but the City of Okoboji benefits in a more meaningful way.
“There’s a little lull between the ice fishing and spring season. Our weather has been pretty poor so it has been a slow start but this weekend always jump-starts us. Today’s even busy here maybe like the first day in the last 2 months that it has been decent weather. We’ve been busy with customers and starting Friday morning it’s a zoo,” said Thane Johnson.
Last year’s event drew more than 2,000 anglers. Although its Walleye Weekend prizes are also awarded for Northerns, Panfish and Bullheads.
“Last year we gave grants of over $23,000 back to various projects that help with angling. $10,000 to the dock money to a new fish cleaning station different projects like that support water quality to the Iowa Great Lakes,” said Blaine Andrea of Okoboji Chamber.
Walleye weekend ends at 11:59 am on Sunday but an extended contest gives competitors a chance to catch one of the remaining tagged walleye through August 31st with a percentage of the registration fees paid out.