Osakis Lions walleye tournament makes changes
The annual Osakis Lions Club walleye tournament on Lake Osakis is set for June 15 this year, but it won’t be exactly what anglers are used to seeing.
This year’s tournament will be a one-day event and will be a catch-photo-release format.
For years, the tournament was a two-day, catch-and-release event that featured a weigh-in at the end of the day before walleyes were put back into Lake Osakis. In an attempt to limit mortality with fish once waters warm up, the DNR implemented regulation changes for tournaments last year that did not allow a catch-and-release format with a weigh-in in the central and southern portion of the state after June 1. This included Lake Osakis.
“That meant it had to be a kill tournament,” Osakis Lions Club treasurer John Temple said of last year’s event. “We modified it by changing it to a one-day tournament and only four fish. The fishermen weren’t too excited about that because they could only have one fish over 20 inches. We had to follow the rules, plus we’re concerned about the health of the lake too.”
Anglers weighed in 154 walleyes at last year’s tournament. The fish that were not kept by the anglers were cleaned and donated by the Lions Club around the area.
Organizers of the tournament decided to go to the catch-photo-release format this year to eliminate taking more than 100 walleyes from the water. All fish will be released at the site of being caught after it is measured and photographed. This system creates less stress and time out of the water than traditional weigh-in catch-and-release models.
Temple said the Osakis Lions Club talked with members of the Sauk Centre Sportsmen after they hosted a catch-photo-release tournament last year.
“Some of the older guys are kind of concerned about the technology part of it,” Temple said of what he has heard from anglers. “They have to have the camera to take one of these chips, but it appears the sign-up has gone about the same as the past. We’re getting about the same number of participants at this point. A lot of guys are happy about it because they too don’t want to waste fish, especially the younger guys. Some of them have already fished this kind of tournament, and they’re really on board with it.”
Anglers will be given a standard SD card for a digital camera they are required to bring for the tournament. In most cases, a smartphone will not accept the SD card issued.
The limit in the tournament is six walleyes, and the smallest walleye that can be registered is 15.25 inches. The catch-photo-release procedures suggest that one partner holds the fish on the official ruler while the other takes the photo.
The belly of the fish faces the person measuring the fish, with the closed mouth of the fish touching the bump plate on the ruler to the left. The tail is extended back to its maximum length to the right end of the ruler. If the tail touches or crosses the graduation line on the ruler, the official length for scoring purposes may be lengthened to the next one-quarter inch.
While the fish is being held on the ruler, a scoring photo must be taken that clearly shows the overall length of the fish. Another photo must be taken of the fish being held up by a partner. This photo must show the entire right side of the fish.
Measurements are written on an official scorecard and the tournament winners are decided by overall weight of their best six fish based off those length measurements.
“Obviously, whenever you change something there’s some concern,” Temple said. “But we talked at length with the sportsmen's club in Sauk Centre who has done it, and they said their tournament went very smoothly. They’re going to help us out with the measuring on the day of, I believe. We think we have it covered pretty well.”
This will be the 39th Lake Osakis Walleye Tournament, and the top prize is $8,000 for the winning boat, based on a full field of teams. The tournament is limited to 75 two-person teams, and payoff of the top-10 finishers will decrease proportionately according to the number of entrants. For more information or to register, visit www.osakisminnesotalionswalleyetournament.com or contact Shad (320-760-8777), Dan (320-250-3078) or Mike (320-859-4781).
The event will get going with a final registration and light meal from 5-6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 14 and a rules discussion starting at 6:30 that night. Fishing begins at 7 a.m. on June 15 with check-in at 3 p.m.
“One of the things we hated to see is having to end the people bringing the fish in,” Temple said. “That was kind of fun for the spectators, but we think we’ll be able to project the pictures that were taken of the fish up on a screen that we’re going to have set up at the weigh-in site. We’re hoping to keep some of the excitement of seeing the fish, even if it’s only a photo.”