- More than 1,000 anglers from all over the state will be in the Northwoods this weekend. The 27th annual National Championship Musky Open is this weekend in Eagle River.
It's put on by the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin and the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.
Organizers say it's a low-pressure, family oriented event. The system is pretty casual, so there won't be any tournament officials looking over your shoulder.
"If we caught a fish, and there's another fisherman with a hat on like he has. We waive to him and say, 'Come here'. He measures it, and we got a slip of paper in our pockets. He witnesses it, says it's 43, 44 inches, or whatever. They sign it, 'Joe Blow', and his number in the tournament. They witness this fish was caught, and then the fish is released automatically," says Don "Big D" Gilbert, Secretary of the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin.
The flow of people into the Northwoods is an obvious plus for local economies. But there's no need to worry about running into 1,000 extra fishermen on the lakes.
"We make sure one particular group of lakes doesn't get too many people. Because we have so many lakes in the Northwoods here, we're able to spread them apart real nice and easy. So as you're able to see, we're out here this morning and you see just a couple boats in this particular lake," says Chuck Brod, Vice President of the Musky Club Alliance of Wisconsin.
Fishermen can choose between seven different lake chains, like Eagle River, Three Lakes or St. Germain.
This is a trophy only tournament, and there are hundreds of door prizes. One lucky winner will take home a $30,000 boat and trailer.
But some might say the best prize comes from the younger participants.
"You never see any bigger smile than a kid when he's got a fish, and caught it, and be on stage telling how he caught that fish. It's really great and that's what this tournament is about," says Gilbert.
The tournament goes through Sunday. There's still time to enter, and the fee is $50 per person.
Fishing goes from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 11:00 a.m. Sunday.