'06 I.O.W.A Tournament Trail Preview
I.O.W.A. Tournament Trail Sets 2006 Season
By Steve Weisman
I.O.W.A. Publicity Director
Walleye anglers interested in experiencing tournament fishing need to take a look at the newly organized I.O.W.A. (Iowa Organization of Walleye Anglers) Tournament Trail. Headed by Dean and Chris Higgins, the I.O.W.A. Trail combines the basic framework of the former Grand National Walleye Cup with some new innovative ideas that promise to make the 2006 season a memorable one.
"Our goal is to provide an exciting circuit for the Iowa anglers that will continue to be for the weekend warrior. We've been in contact with many of the teams who fished the GNWC, and they are excited about the new concepts we are bringing into the circuit. We've also heard from others who are interested in experiencing tournament fishing at an affordable price," said Higgins. "I don't know how many people I talked to who said those first days when they didn't think they would have a walleye tournament in Iowa were some of the worst days in their life. So, with their encouragement, Chris and I pursued purchasing the Iowa Trail."
The tournament waters for this season are some of the best walleye waters in the Hawkeye state. "We've tried to pick areas that are not only good walleye waters, but also communities that we know appreciate our tournament anglers coming to their area."
The I.O.W.A. Tournament Trail will include a series of four qualifiers held across the state with a State Championship in which the top 30 teams will meet for a two-day shootout and a first place purse of $7,500 in cash plus two $2,000 certificates toward the purchase of a boat and motor package from Algona Marine.
Bill Hall, who along with his son Chad own Algona Marine and Sport, expressed his excitement for the I.O.W.A. circuit. "The I.O.W.A. circuit is very important to the walleye anglers in the state. As tournament fishermen, Chad and I know the dedication it takes to fish competitively. This is our way of helping out."
"The I.O.W.A State Championship will be held on the Mississippi River at Davenport on October 13-15 and will be sponsored by Hooters of Iowa. Hooters will host the Championship meal and also provide a portion of the first place purse," said Higgins.
Jennifer Zmurk, marketing Director for Hoot Winc, expressed the confidence that Hooters of Iowa has in the I.O.W.A circuit. "We're extremely excited to be with the I.O.W.A. Tournament Trail, and we are looking forward to a great relationship."
The season kicks off on Sunday, April 23 on the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, followed by a trip to north central Iowa and Clear Lake on Sunday, May 14.
Two weeks later the teams head south to Rathbun Reservoir on May 28. The fourth qualifier is set for September 17 on northwest Iowa's walleye hotspot, Big Spirit Lake.
The entry fee will be $240 per team for all events with an 80 percent payback. Also, $10 of the entry fee will go to an enhanced fishing conservation fund that goes directly back to enhance that region's fishery. Membership for the Iowa Organization of Walleye Anglers will be $30 per person.
"We know the importance of sponsorships for the success of the circuit, and we have put together an impressive list of national sponsors who have a sincere interest in circuits like the I.O.W.A. Tournament Trail," said Higgins. "In the six weeks since we began, we have signed Lund, Mercury Outboards, Yacht Club/Eagle Custom Trailers, MinnKota, Humminbird, Cabela's, Mack's Lure, Smooth Move Seat Mounts, Stowmaster, Towtector Shield and Fort Dodge Ford as corporate sponsors."
With such sponsors, the I.O.W.A. Tournament Trail will be able to offer several special awards: the Humminbird Team of the Year, MinnKota Family Team of the Year, Cabela's Big Fish Award, the Mercury Sportsman of the Year Award, the Towtector Shield and Towtector Comeback Awards, the Need Mack's Lure Award and the Stowmaster Net Award.
At the same time, Algona Marine and Sport, is offering a Lund Bonus award throughout the season. "This is really an exciting award," added Higgins. "If you are the original owner of a 1998 or newer boat that you purchased from Algona Marine & Sport you will receive a 30 percent matching bonus of any check that you are awarded at any I.O.W.A. qualifier."
Higgins continued, "Another key sponsor is the Iowa Walleye Magazine, the official magazine of the I.O.W.A Circuit. All our results and press releases, along with pictures will be in the Iowa Walleye Magazine, plus all of the great stories that editor and publish Kolby Kester puts into this monthly publication."
Higgins continued, "We are also in the process of putting together even more sponsorship packages and will announce them as they are completed."
"These should all be great tournaments," said Higgins. "As for the State Championship, I think it's going to be an awesome experience. The teams who qualify for the State Championship won't want to miss it!"
The I.O.W.A. website (www.walleyepromotions.com) is up and running with rules, registration, schedule, special awards, contact information and sponsors. "We also have our message board going, which will be the on-line communication link. It's a great place to ask questions or simply post a fishing idea. I see it as being the hub for I.O.W.A. members.
Interested anglers can call (515) 571-8946 or they can email the I.O.W.A. staff at email@example.com.