So what does this mean for veteran NWT anglers and newcomers?
For the most part, the average angler isn't involved in the back-end operations of tournaments and the fishing industry. Therefore most don't understand why certain things transpire the way they do. And that is perfectly normal as it's not the average Joe's job to be in the know of all things, but reading a press release in its entirety certainly helps minimize rumors that a typical knee-jerk reaction to a headline creates.
So let me insert my two cents into this recent news.
First off the National Walleye Tour (NWT) was not sold to The Federation Angler which is also known as The Walleye Federation, The Bass Federations, and several other established tournament names that they own and or manage. In this circumstance with the NWT, the Federation Angler will be operating as its tournament management source. What does that mean? The day-to-day operations of running a tournament and setting the schedule will be done by newly assigned tournament director Jeff Kelm while the president of the Federation Robert Cartlige will manage and coordinate with its owners on entry fees, sponsorship, and business dealings. Yes, I said its owners, which would be Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's which holds a majority share in this tournament circuit. This is nothing new as BP/Cabela's has owned a large share of this tournament trail from inception.
I spoke with the in-coming tournament director Jeff Kelm about this and he stated "Not to expect any changes in entry fees or schedule for the 2023 season, but we may see things a little different at the tournaments to fit the flow on how he runs things" And from what I have seen from Jeff on the MWC side of walleye tournament fishing, seems to work well as he is a highly creditable tournament director with a proven track record of holding up the highest levels of integrity. And lord knows we could use some integrity back into the walleye tournament circuit after the latest debacle of cheaters making national news.
How does this affect the veteran anglers and the new incomers to this trail. It doesn't, at least not yet. I would be lying if I said things will remain as is. As like any change in management comes change in operations. Will we see much difference in the 2023 season? Probably not much or anyting to be concerned about, but will we see subtantial changes in the 2024 season after the Federation has a year under thier belt to figure out what can be done to improve angler experience and exposure? I would imagine so and frankly I hope that is the case. Of course things could alway's move backwards, but like Jeff I'm going to lean on the side of optimism as this is the biggest name in walleye tournaments across the U.S. So be patient, let the Federation get their preverbal feet wet and see where the water takes us.