EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard  Ed Stachowski (left) drives across the bay with his co-angler during the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Ed Stachowski (left) drives across the bay with his co-angler during the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship.

MARINETTE — The Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship event held in Marinette last week was a huge success and a boon to the local economy, the Marinette County Economic Development and Tourism Committee was told on Monday.

Among those praising the event were Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot, Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and CEO Jacqueline Boudreau and Marinette County Tourism Director Butch Kostreva.

“I thought it turned out spectacularly well,” Kostreva said. “I had calls when I came back today from four fishermen telling me how great the city was and that the hospitality was great. They said they just had a wonderful time.”

He said one of the fishermen, who resides in Iowa, called him and said he wanted one of the banners publicizing the tournament that was posted by the chamber to use as a memento to display in his garage.

“I thought that just was unbelievable,” Kostreva said. “I thought it turned out very well and I just want to say thanks to the city and the mayor for the great job that they did, they did a lot of leg work and really hustled to get everything done.

“They did a phenomenal job. It was just a great event.”

Kostreva, who also praised the chamber, explained to the committee that the event cannot be held again here next year “because it’s like a Super Bowl that you can’t have it in the same city two years in a row.”

“All the fishermen I talked to said they want to come back,” he said. “So in two years hopefully they’ll come back, not as a regional (tourney) but as more of a championship again. I foresee that happening.”

Genisot thanked the county and chamber for “stepping up” and said the walleye sculptures displayed in front of businesses in Marinette and Menominee “were a big success.”

“The overall comment that we got from the anglers and the event coordinator was that they couldn’t believe the support from the community,” he said. “They couldn’t believe the community outreach and how excited it was, and the artwork and the welcoming of them as well as all the support.

“They said they didn’t need to ask for anything, that it was pretty much all taken care of.”

Genisot reiterated Kostreva’s statement that there won’t be another championship held here next year, but that “we could potentially get one again” and that there might be other opportunities to host tournaments.

“They know where we’re at and what kind of fishing we have,” he stressed.

Genisot said the event being postponed for two days and just taking place on Wednesday and Saturday because of the weather was rare.

He said the event has only been canceled twice in the 16 years it has taken place and that “we were only the third and fourth days out of 500-plus tournaments” where there have been postponements.

“So it happens,” Genisot said. “It (the days when the tournament was postponed) was good for the community. They spent a lot of money those two days. 

“We did have one of the largest single-day weigh-ins. So it was a record-breaking event.”

He said one of the anglers that makes presentations to city councils in Minnesota about fishing tournaments said the impact of the event on the local economy was much more than the $350,000 to $500,000 estimated.

“He said in a tournament like this you could easily see over $1 million worth of impact,” Genisot said. “He said the $350,000 to $500,00 is a very conservative estimate.

“The extra two days were very important. Typically after one or two days of fishing, only the top 10 stay. In this case because of the blow days, all 72 anglers were there for the final days.”

Boudreau said “everybody did what they could and they did it well and it showed as everything came together.”

“The metal sculpture project was received very well,” she said. “We’re getting lots of calls about it, it was very successful.

“It was more than just a welcoming gesture, it showed we are the walleye capital and it was our step into a public art project.”

She also noted that the walleye sculptures were displayed on both sides of the river.

She said the “important aspect (of the event) was that it showcased what is going on up here,” that a new rec center and hospital are being built.

“That northern Wisconsin doesn’t just stop in Green Bay,” Boudreau said. “Kudos to everybody, you just can’t measure the impact.”

County Supervisor Al Mans, a member of the committee, said the event also showcased the Menekaunee Harbor project.

Mans said the banquet held for fishermen last Tuesday night at Marinette High School was a big success, especially with Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch speaking at it.

“The fishermen were really impressed,” Mans said. “They were really impressed that the lieutenant governor came up here to speak to them.”

“The Moose Lodge did the entire meal and provided 30 to 40 volunteers,” Genisot said. “They also did all the cleaning of the fish (that couldn’t be returned to the water).”

Kostreva said the mortality rate for the walleyes that were caught was about 40 percent.

Genisot said the Moose Lodge is going to have a fish fry and donate the proceeds to help fund the Community REC Center project. 

“I think it was a complete success and I think it was very beneficial for the City of Marinette and Marinette County,” said Supervisor Shirley Kaufman, committee chair.