I always knew walleye tournament fishing was expensive -- the boats they drive cost more than I paid for my house back in the day -- but results from a recent survey by Devils Lake Tourism really put the price tag in perspective.
The findings also highlight the impact of fishing in North Dakota, not only to local economies such as Devils Lake, but across the state.
In a story we ran on our website Tuesday, Sept. 17, but not in print, Devils Lake Tourism said the average angler fishing the recent National Walleye Tour championship on Devils Lake spent about $1,375 during their stay.
That includes such as expenses as gasoline, lodging, meals and tackle. Considering many of the anglers arrived in town several days before the tournament to pre-fish, the costs definitely added up.
The tournament, which began Wednesday, Sept. 11, was scheduled to end Friday, Sept. 13, but bad weather Thursday, Sept. 12 prompted organizers to cancel fishing and push the event back a day.
The extra day in town might have upped the cost for anglers, but it definitely was good for business. The NWT championship drew 87 pros and 87 co-angler amateur partners to Devils Lake to put their walleye skills for the test.
Walleye pro John Hoyer of Orono, Minn., who won the tournament and landed a prize package worth $97,320, said he lost at least 300 lures during his stay in Devils Lake because of his fishing style, which involved casting snag-attracting lures such as Jigging Raps, Moonshine Shiver Minnows and Berkley Johnny Darters in 2 to 10 feet of water in East Devils Lake.
He replaced about 100 of those lures locally.
Hoyer spent about $800 on gas during 10 days of prefishing and three days competing in the tournament, $700 on lodging and $700 on meals at local restaurants, Devils Lake Tourism reported. In addition, after winning the tournament, he splurged and treated friends to dinner, which resulted in a $900 bill.
A few other highlights from the survey:
Most anglers said they purchased $50 worth of tackle, with five anglers spending $400, three shelling out $500, five spending $1,000 and one angler swiping his credit card for $2,000.
The average angler spent seven nights in the area. Of those, 36% stayed at resorts, 32% at motels, 16% at campgrounds and 11% with friends.
The average angler traveled 575 miles round trip to fish Devils Lake, and 14% drove more than 1,000 miles.
The big lake also left a favorable impression among the surveyed anglers, with 88% saying they would return to Devils Lake and 88% rating the fishing as good, very good or excellent. Specifically, 49% rated fishing as good, 28% very good and 11% excellent, Devils Lake Tourism said.
“Everyone talks fishing, loves us fishermen and wants to know what we know,” Hoyer told Devils Lake Tourism. “Where fishing is such a big part of their economy, I love to be in Devils Lake.”
Bad news for birds
Keeping with the survey theme, though much less positive, results from a new study led by scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology indicate the breeding population of birds in the U.S. and Canada has dropped nearly 30% since 1970, the Cornell Lab said in a news release.
The study, published in the journal Science, “found that nearly 3 billion birds have vanished in our lifetime,” the news release stated.
“These staggering losses have occurred across all habitats, from grasslands to the Arctic, shorelines to forests — and have taken a massive toll on even common species, such as sparrows, warblers and blackbirds.”
On the upside, the results show waterfowl numbers up by 56% and raptors up 200% since 1970, proof that birds are resilient when given a chance, according to the release.
More info: birds.cornell.edu/bringbirdsback.