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What is the National Walleye Tour and how exactly does it work?

This is the second straight year the NWT is holding an event in Chamberlain

An angler gives the thumbs up that his boat is clear of the trailer on Monday morning before pre-fishing for the Chamberlain National Walleye Tour regular season event.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

CHAMBERLAIN/OACOMA, S.D. — The National Walleye Tour for the second straight year selected Chamberlain/Oacoma as one of its locations for a two-day tournament that brings together some of the top professional anglers in the Upper Midwest.

So what exactly is the National Walleye Tour ?

The organization says it offers "tour-level competition for walleye anglers across the north." The tour has been running in its current form since at least 2013.

Who competes?

Anglers can sign up as co-anglers or professionals. Anyone who wishes to compete registers online and pays a per-tournament fee or pays for all four events before the season kicks off. The co-angler fee is $500 per tournament and the pro-angler fee is $1,750 each event.


There are limited qualifications to compete, including paying a $30 annual membership fee and being 16 years or older. (Anyone younger than 18 must have a parent/guardian sign a release form.)

So how do the tournaments work?

There are four regular season tournaments and a championship. At each event, co-anglers are randomly drawn to fish with professionals. The pro-anglers must provide all presentation equipment for their own use and the use of their co-angler partners. With the exception of two rods and reels, co-anglers are not permitted to bring tackle into their pro's boat without permission from the pro.

A co-angler and professional are paired for one day, and a new pair is formed on the second, final day of the event. The highest cumulative weight for both the co-anglers and professionals after two days are counted for standings. Pros and co-anglers fish together for a combined daily boat weight, and boats weigh in five fish (with some exceptions while considering state or lake regulations.)

Here is the entire NWT rules document.

How much money can anglers win?

Based on a 125-boat field, the winning professional angler takes home at least $15,000 and a Ranger boat package. Second place is $20,000 and third is $15,000.

Co-anglers win $7,500 for first, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third.


After stringing together a dominant season last year on the National Walleye Tour, Woonsocket native turned pro angler Duane Hjelm got off to a good start this year on the Illinois River.
“It’s a huge economic benefit for the town. We are excited for this big event,” Cindy Broyhill said of the June 22-23 tournament in 2023.
Members Only
Hjelm's success on the water has helped the South Dakota pro walleye angler amass over $300,000 this year competing on the National Walleye tour, powered by a first place tournament finish and two second place finishes.
Members Only
“This was a whole new world for me at first, and I love it,” said Duane Hjelm, a South Dakota pro angler who got his start in walleye fishing on small bodies of water.
There are five South Dakota pro anglers – Ted Takasaki, Brian Bashore, Mike Zell, Justin Sieverding and Duane Hjelm – who are among the top 40 in the Angler of the Year standings
A 42-year-old Fargo-Moorhead business owner has seen success on the National Walleye Tour, but it is his success with cuticles and acrylics that helped pave the way to fishing tournament wins.
“I’ve been fishing here since I was a teenager, and it feels great to get my first National Walleye tour win on this body of water,” said Brookings angler Dustin Kjelden.
“I’d say every two to three years, we will be coming back here. It’s just too good,” Tournament Director Anthony Wright said of the Chamberlain-Oacoma area
"I like that I can just grab my poles and gear and head out here to fish after a day of work and not have to get everything ready like you do for a boat," said Dana Dozark, a local angler who fishes the Missouri River shorelines.
“It was a good day on the river. We mixed it up a bit today,” Austin Earley said of the fishing tactics that he used to reel in five walleye weighing in at a combined 18 pounds.

What is the schedule, and how often is South Dakota included in the competition?

The 2022 NWT started in Trenton, Michigan, at the Detroit River. The two-day competition was March 31-April 1.

Chamberlain is the second leg of this year's regular season. The tournament runs April 28-29 with weigh-ins beginning at 3 p.m. each day at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma. The third leg is Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, on June 9-10; the fourth is Marinette, Wisconsin, July 14-15; and the championship (qualifiers only) is in Dunkirk, N.Y., at Lake Erie on Aug. 24-26.

In 2021, Chamberlain and Mobridge were both selected as NWT regular season sites. Before that, it had been since 2016 that Mobridge was included in the NWT.

Where are the anglers typically from?

All over the nation. Professional anglers from Michigan; North Dakota; Wisconsin; Minnesota; New York; Ohio; Iowa; and South Dakota were in the top 30 of the Detroit River season-opener earlier this year.

Anglers hit the waters of Lake Francis Case Monday morning to pre-fish the river system in preparation for Thursday and Friday's National Walleye Tour in Chamberlain.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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