Pickstown bracing to host first National Walleye Tour event in 2023, community leaders already preparing

·3 min read

Sep. 23—PICKSTOWN — For the first time in the small Missouri River community's history, Pickstown will play host to a National Walleye Tour tournament in 2023.

The June 22-23 two-day tournament is expected to bring around 300 anglers, including some of the nation's top pro walleye anglers. There is plenty of buzz about the event circulating around the Pickstown and Wagner area, as community leaders have already begun preparing for the town's first Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops National Walleye Tour tournament.

Cindy Broyhill, president of Pickstown's board of trustees, is eager to showcase the small town's "beautiful scenery, local businesses" and of course, its "amazing fishing" along the Missouri River.

"For a small community, we really have a lot to offer. There are so many fun things to do, not only on the water. We have a museum, golf course and good restaurants," Broyhill said of the Pickstown area, which has a population hovering around 300.

Hosting a National Walleye Tour event provides a big economic boost across almost every sector of the local economy. The last two summers, Chamberlain-Oacoma in central South Dakota felt that economic impact during the pair of tournaments the communities hosted in 2021 and 2022.

Now, that will be passed onto the Pickstown and Wagner area — a place known around the Midwest as a premier walleye fishing destination.

"It's a huge economic benefit for the town. We are excited for this big event," Broyhill said, noting that the nearby community of Wagner — a town that's much larger with over 1,500 people — has played an instrumental role in preparing for the tournament. "It's been a team effort."

Many anglers spend up to a couple weeks pre-fishing the waters they will be competing on during the tournament, which provides a big boost in business for local hotels, restaurants and bait shops.

An economic impact survey conducted by the Chamberlain-Oacoma Area Chamber of Commerce and Conventions and Visitors Bureau showed the 2021 National Walleye Tour held in Chamberlain-Oacoma boosted sales tax in both river towns. According to the economic impact survey, the city of Chamberlain saw a $25,000 increase in sales tax during the month of April in 2021 compared to April 2020.

Each season, the National Walleye Tour hosts four regular season tournaments in different bodies of water, including lakes and river systems in the northern portion of the country, where walleye fishing reigns supreme.

According to Tournament Director Anthony Wright, cities interested in hosting a two-day tournament throughout the spring and summer tour must pitch a proposal and pay a fee to host a regular season event. To host a two-day tournament, the fee is $10,000.

"It's been on the radar. It's a great system, and we love coming to South Dakota," Wright said of the Missouri River and Pickstown area.

The Pickstown tournament is the lone South Dakota stop on the 2023 National Walleye Tour schedule. The first two tournaments in the 2023 season will be at Spring Valley, Illinois and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After the Pickstown stop, the season will wrap up with a tournament in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Devils Lake, North Dakota was tabbed to host the 2023 season finale in early September.

Unlike Chamberlain-Oacoma hosting in the spring the past two years when walleye are typically spawning, the Pickstown stop will come in the peak of summer. As Broyhill put it, "It's the perfect time" to fish the waters of Lake Francis Case.

"That's when the best fishing is. It's fabulous timing," she said.