Results from a just-completed survey by Devils Lake Tourism showed the average tournament angler spent $1,375 during the recent National Walleye Tour Championship that began Wednesday, Sept. 11 and wrapped up Saturday, Sept. 14.
The tournament brought 174 anglers to Devils Lake — many for the first time and others who have visited for decades — and they spent nearly $250,000 total and circulated throughout the community many times, Devils Lake Tourism said.
The fishery and the Devils Lake area also received positive news coverage in social media, magazines, websites, television and media throughout the country.
The survey also asked the anglers if they would return to fish again. Of all contestants, 88 percent answered with a resounding “YES!!” A similar number, 88 percent, also rated the fishing as good, very good or excellent. Specifically, 49 percent said “good,” 28 percent said “very good” and 11 percent said “excellent.”
Tournament winner John Hoyer of Orono, Minn., took home $97,320 in cash and prizes for winning the tournament, and his contributions to the local economy were significant, according to Devils Lake Tourism. He lost at least 300 lures due to his style of fishing and replaced 100 of those locally. He also used about 20 gallons of boat gas daily for all 13 days on the water (10 days during the pre-tournament period; three tournament days) for about $800.
He traveled 800 miles from home and back. He spent three nights at the Holiday Inn and 10 nights at Haybale Heights resort. Since he was splitting lodging, add another $700. He ate out almost every night at the Ranch, Proz at Woodland and a Mexican restaurant for about $700. He also splurged in celebrating his victory by treating friends to dinner, a $900 bill.
Hoyer also purchased four spools of lead core line and a Grahams Island State Park pass.
“Devils Lake is my favorite lake for what I love to do – casting for walleyes,” he said.
During all three days on the water, Hoyer concentrated on 2 to 10 feet of water in East Devils Lake. His tactics involved casting, casting and casting. He also had two slip bobbers in the water with leeches, but most of his fish were caught casting.
Hoyer’s arsenal included Moonshine Shiver Minnows, Jigging Raps and Berkley Johnny Darters. He also interspersed this bottom-thumping technique with shallow-running jerk baits, saying perch and fire-tiger colors were best.
“With all the wood, rocks and pike, I lost at least 300 lures,” Hoyer said.
The Devils Lake survey showed that most anglers purchased $50 worth of tackle, with five anglers spending $400, three at $500, five at $1,000 and one angler swiping his credit card for $2,000.
Hoyer also credited the community.
“Everyone talks fishing, loves us fishermen, and wants to know what we know,” he said. “Where fishing is such a big part of their economy, I love to be in Devils Lake.”
The survey also pointed to the pride of the community, with 15 percent of anglers surveyed citing the “local feel of the area and the people.” The remainder, 83 percent of respondents, said what they most liked about the lake was the healthy fishery, the diversity of the lake, the hundreds of places to fish and all of the tactics that were in play.
The average angler spent seven nights in the area. Of those, 36 percent stayed at resorts, 32 percent at motels, 16 percent at campgrounds and 11 percent with friends. The average angler traveled 575 miles round trip to fish Devils Lake, and 14 percent drove more than 1,000 miles.