Dunkirk Readies For National Walleye Tournament
DUNKIRK — The World Series or Super Bowl of walleye fishing is coming to Dunkirk in a couple weeks.
The 2022 National Walleye Tour Championship is set for Aug. 24 to 26, with 40 professional anglers competing, joined by their 40 co-anglers. Fully rigged boat packages get awarded to top two anglers and the top co-angler. The top angler is named Lucas Oil Angler of the Year, considered the championship title of walleye fishing.
City of Dunkirk officials are ecstatic about the event. “This will be a great event for our local fishing community,” said Mayor Wilfred Rosas. “The area has great attractions that everyone can enjoy. We welcome the anglers and their guests to come experience a beautiful New York summer.”
Vince DeJoy, the city’s director of planning and development, said Dunkirk welcomes the event “with a great deal of excitement and gratitude.” He added, “What an incredible opportunity we have to deliver a positive experience for the anglers and their families, and to the many people that will visit and discover Dunkirk and will make it a point to come back again.”
The area will be new to many of the anglers.
“Professional walleye anglers are accustomed to trolling (Lake) Erie’s world-class waters, but typically events are held on Erie’s western basin,” wrote Brett Carlson, a reporter for the National Walleye Tour, in a release promoting the event. “The location (of Dunkirk) is intriguing for several reasons. First, it’s common knowledge that Lake Erie walleyes spawn early in the springtime in the western basin along the shallow reefs. As the water warms throughout the year, those fish disperse and migrate east — some traveling past Dunkirk as far as Buffalo.”
Carlson added that only a few of the 40 pro anglers competing this year have much experience in Lake Erie’s eastern basin.
Anglers will shove off from the Dunkirk Marina each day at 7 a.m. Daily weigh-ins will take place at the Dunkirk Pier starting at 3 p.m. The full field fishes Aug. 24 and 25, with the top ten advancing to the final day.
Winners in each division are determined by heaviest cumulative weight of walleye caught.
The events will be televised on the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network, and will also be available on several streaming platforms.
There will be a free fishing clinic for children at the pier after the Aug. 25 weigh-in, at about 4:30 p.m.
Also, anglers will be in town early to show off their rigs and answer questions. They are scheduled to attend a community event Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. in the field next to the Clarion Hotel.
The tourney isn’t the only walleye fishing event based in Dunkirk this month. The Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge will take place Aug. 20.
Jim Steel, director of the Innovative tourney along with his wife, Diane, said eastern Lake Erie anglers can be successful in both shallow and deep water, with a variety of techniques. The Steels are also members of the local committee for the national championship tourney.
“It’s not uncommon to land a 10-pound walleye this time of year,” Jim Steel said. “We are looking forward to what these professional anglers bring to the scale.”