Just weeks into registration, the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit was off to a fast start as walleye fans east to west are reserving their chance to enjoy great fishing and compete for hefty payouts at 10 qualifiers on the 2013 trail.
As expected, the surge in registrations has come from traditional strongholds such as the season opener on the Illinois River at Spring Valley on March 23-24, and the renowned big-fish battle on the Detroit River in April.
Earlybird — known as “Premier Team” — signups were also strong, with teams taking advantage of extra perks for signing up for three or more tournaments prior to the Feb. 15 early-bird deadline. Premier entries enjoy great odds of making the championship, as the top 25 point-accumulating Premiers earn coveted invites to the $100,000 no-entry-fee Cabela’s MWC World Walleye Championship. (The top 20 teams overall, fishing a minimum of three events, will also be invited.) Premiers also enjoy installment billing and priority entry in all events.
Along with renewed interest in walleye tournament fishing, circuit officials credit part of the gains to additional benefits, streamlined rules and enhanced prize packages available to MWC anglers in light of the trail’s recent sale to the Walleye Federation. Extra benefits include an annual TWF membership that expands opportunities to other events including the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour and National Team Championship. The MWC also updated its rules, including the creation of a simplified points system for qualifying for the Cabela’s MWC World Championship and MWC Team of the Year race.
Prize packages have also been beefed up. For example, in addition to a cash option, the circuit’s Team of the Year race now offers winners their choice of “Living the Dream” packages for fishing either the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour or Masters Walleye Circuit. Packages include paid entry fees, travel stipend, team jerseys and use of a 600 series Ranger boat for the 2014 tournament season. And in addition to the great payout and sponsor contingencies such as Cabela’s Angler Cash, winners of MWC qualifiers will receive a $1,000 Cabela’s National Team Championship Prize Package, which includes a paid invitation to fish the 2014 Cabela’s NTC, plus team jersey, plaque and travel stipend.
The MWC is also expanding its television coverage, raising circuit anglers’ exposure to new heights. Exact air dates and times will be announced as soon as the production schedule is set, and select MWC events will air as part of a 13-week block of Federation Angler TV in the fourth quarter of 2013 on NBC Sports, which airs in over 80 million households.