Guide to Lake Erie Fishing Tournaments 2023

Lake Erie Fishing Tournaments
Photo by stephen momot on Unsplash

Here’s a summary of the upcoming fishing tournaments on Lake Erie, highlighting their unique aspects:

Lake Erie Fishing Tournaments 2023

Lake Erie, renowned as one of North America’s Great Lakes, stands out as a prime location for fishing tournaments. Its vast expanse, teeming with a rich diversity of fish species, makes it an ideal destination for anglers of all skill levels. The lake is especially celebrated for its abundant walleye population, often leading it to be referred to as “The Walleye Capital of the World.” This distinction is a testament to the thriving aquatic ecosystem that supports not only walleye but also bass, perch, and other sought-after game fish.

Lake Erie Fishing Tournaments 2023
Photo by Richard R on Unsplash

Lake Erie Bass Challenge (Presented by Clemons Boats)

  • Schedule:
    • April 16, 2023: Kickoff Event at Shelby Street Ramp
    • May 21, 2023: Tournament 2 at Shelby Street Ramp
    • July 16, 2023: Tournament 3 at Shelby Street Ramp
    • August 27, 2023: Tournament 4 at Shelby Street Ramp
    • September 30, 2023: Tournament 5 at West Harbor Ramp
    • October 28–29, 2023: Championship at Shelby Street Ramp
  • Unique Aspects: These events are part of a series leading up to a championship. Various teams participate, offering a competitive atmosphere.

Lake Erie Bass Challenge Rules (Overview)

  • Eligibility: Open to all, competitors under 18 without an adult need a waiver and parental consent. Teams can be single or two persons.
  • Registration: Must use online payment or mail (no day-of payments); entries must be received 48 hours prior to the tournament.
  • Equipment and Boat Regulations: Artificial or biodegradable baits only, maximum rod length of 8 feet, one rod at a time. Maximum horsepower for boats is 300 hp, and it must comply with US Coast Guard regulations.
  • Safety Protocols: Mandatory US Coast Guard-approved vest when the engine runs above idle speed; kill switch attachment required. Observance of state regulations and special regulations as announced

For detailed information and complete rules, refer to the official document here

2023 Lake Erie Fall Brawl

Lake Erie Fall Brawl Rules (Overview)

  • Eligibility:
  • Contestants can only be eligible for one monetary prize but may qualify for additional sponsorship bonus awards.
  • Must have all lawfully applicable fishing licenses and fish in the U.S. waters of Lake Erie.
  • If fishing from a boat, only registered participants may be on board. Boats must be legally registered and equipped with the required safety devices.
  • Kids Division: Open for ages 15 and under (must not turn 16 before December 4, 2023). The top five places are paid, but recipients must not be regular top five winners in any other division.
  • Registration:
  • No refunds for tournament entry fees once paid.
  • The right to refuse registration is reserved.
  • Equipment and Regulations:
  • Fish must be legally caught in accordance with fishing laws.
  • Only one fish is allowed per participant to be registered at any one time, and it must be caught by the registered participant.
  • The entered fish cannot be weighed at a different Fall Brawl weigh station.
  • Safety and Legal Compliance:
  • Major boating law violations can lead to disqualification.
  • Contestants are subject to polygraph and VSA lie detector testing for honesty and integrity.
  • Disqualification after two failed polygraph/VSA tests is provided at no cost to the contestant. Polygraph tests are scheduled for December 4th–8th, 2023.
  • Fish Inspection:
  • A device will be used to detect foreign objects in the fish being weighed.
  • The right to seize any fish submitted for entry is reserved.
  • Fish length and weight are held pending inspection; if passed, the scores will be honored.

For detailed information and complete rules, refer to the official document here

Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s Master Walleye Circuit and Michigan Walleye Tour

  • Dates and Locations:
    • April 21–22, 2023: Master Walleye Circuit at Monroe County
    • May 6-7, 2023: Michigan Walleye Tour at Sterling State Park, Monroe County
  • Unique Aspects: The Master Walleye Circuit is North America’s longest-running team walleye tournament and is part of a series of eight events. The Michigan Walleye Tour, starting in 1995, aims to provide a competitive arena for top anglers and spread knowledge about fishing.

The 2023 Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) and Michigan Walleye Tour have established comprehensive rules to ensure fair and safe competition.

  1. Official Rules and Safety Regulations: Strict adherence to rules is mandatory. Contestants must report any rule violations immediately, and violations may lead to sanctions, including disqualification.
  2. Participation and Eligibility: Contestants must be active members of the Walleye Federation or join at registration. Teams must consist of two persons, and no one under the age of 12 is allowed without MWC approval. Proof of boating liability insurance is required.
  3. Entry Details: Registration opens on January 5, 2023, with an entry fee of $650 per team per event. A voluntary option pot fee of $350 is available. Entries must be complete and paid by the due dates.
  4. Pre-Tournament Practice and Competition: No restrictions on pre-fishing dates, but contestants must adhere to state laws. Mandatory rules: meeting attendance is required.
  5. Safety & Tournament Integrity: Safe boating conduct is essential. Competitors must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device when the boat is on plane. Tournament waters may be restricted for safety reasons.
  6. Sportsmanship: Competitors must maintain a professional demeanor and sportsmanlike conduct. Use of alcohol, marijuana, or mind-altering drugs during the event is prohibited.
  7. Tackle & Equipment: Compliance with fishing licenses and regulations is required. No sliders, clips, or detachable lines are allowed. Live bait and artificial lures are permissible.
  8. Boat, Motor & Safety Equipment: Boats must meet safety requirements, including Coast Guard-required equipment. Boats must be propeller-driven and a minimum of 16 feet in length.
  9. Boat Identification: Each boat must pass a livewell and safety inspection and carry a boat marker.
  10. Permitted Fishing Locations: Fishing is allowed within designated tournament waters. Fishing in “off-limits” areas is prohibited.
  11. Contestants Must Remain Together: Contestants cannot leave the boat to land fish or access fishing waters. In case of a breakdown, specific procedures must be followed.
  12. Official Safety Check Point: Compliance with check-in and check-out procedures is mandatory.
  13. Late Penalty: Late arrival at the check-in point results in penalties.
  14. Scoring: Based on the pound/ounce weight of each team’s catch. Strict guidelines for fish presentation and handling are in place.
  15. Protests & Truth Verification Tests: Protests must be officially filed with a fee. Random truth verification tests will be conducted.
  16. Catch & Release: Deductions for dead fish Proper livewell maintenance is required.
  17. Ties & Points: Specific criteria are set for resolving ties.

For detailed information and complete rules, refer to the official document here.

Walleye Slam

  • Dates: October 20 to December 3, 2023
  • Location: Weigh-in at 5404 Lake Rd., Sheffield Lake, Ohio
  • Unique Aspects: This event is one of the two largest walleye fishing derbies on Lake Erie, attracting anglers from across the country.

These tournaments showcase the diversity and competitiveness of fishing in Lake Erie, appealing to a wide range of anglers, from beginners to experienced competitors. Each event offers its own unique charm, whether it’s the prestige of participating in North America’s longest-running walleye tournament or the excitement of competing for substantial prizes.

The 2023 Fall Walleye Slam has specific rules divided into several categories:

Weigh-In Rules:

  • Only one fish per participant can be weighed and registered at any time.
  • Multiple fish can be registered, but at different times.
  • Fish are weighed and measured to the nearest 1/4 inch.
  • The winning fish is determined by weight, with length as a tiebreaker.
  • If weight and length are the same, the tiebreaker is the order of entry.
  • Each subsequent fish registered supersedes the previous.
  • Fish are scanned by a metal detector during weigh-in.
  • Fish may be seized for further inspection; the weight and length are held pending inspection.
  • Fish must be legally caught according to Ohio laws.

Participant Rules:

  • Only registered participants can catch eligible fish.
  • The participant weighing the fish is responsible for it.
  • Participants need a valid fishing license as per Ohio state requirements.
  • Only registered participants are allowed on boats during the event.
  • Boats must be legally registered and equipped according to Ohio laws.
  • The event takes place in Ohio waters of Lake Erie, excluding Canadian and Michigan waters.

Registration Rules:

  • Registration forms must be legible, complete, signed, and dated.
  • The organizers reserve the right to refuse registration.

Multiple Derby Rules:

  • Fish weighed in other derbies are allowed in the Walleye Slam.

Women’s, Veterans, Shore, and Kayak Rules:

  • These follow the main event rules.
  • These divisions are additional side pots.
  • Top 10 finishers are ineligible for the side pot.

Kids Division Rules:

  • Same as the main event rules.
  • Additional side pots are included.
  • Top 10 finishers are ineligible for the side pot.

Prizes Rules:

  • Grand prize winners must pass a lie detector test and complete a W-9 form.
  • Winners are responsible for tax liabilities.
  • Ties for the Grand Prize are broken by order of entry.

For detailed information and complete rules, refer to the official document here.

What Makes Each Event Unique

Each fishing tournament on Lake Erie boasts its own distinct features and associated community activities, contributing to a unique experience for each event:

  1. Lake Erie Bass Challenge
    • This series of tournaments culminates in a championship event, creating a progressive and competitive atmosphere. It’s particularly known for its focus on bass fishing, catering to enthusiasts of this specific species.
  2. Lake Erie Fall Brawl
    • Known for its large prize offerings, including high-value boating equipment, It also features a unique kids division, making it a family-friendly event.
  3. Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s Master Walleye Circuit and Michigan Walleye Tour
    • These tournaments are notable for their long-standing reputation and professional-level competition. They often attract seasoned anglers, including local and regional celebrities in the fishing world.
  4. Walleye Slam
    • Distinguished by its focus on walleye fishing and is one of the largest derbies on Lake Erie. It offers unique challenges like night fishing, appealing to a diverse range of anglers.

Tips for Success in Lake Erie Fishing Tournaments

Success in Lake Erie fishing tournaments often hinges on a combination of skill, knowledge, and the right equipment. Here are some tips gathered from seasoned fishermen and tournament winners to enhance your chances of success:

1. Advice from Seasoned Fishermen and Tournament Winners:

  • Learn the Lake: Understand the unique features of Lake Erie, such as its depth variations, water currents, and predominant weather patterns. Seasonal changes significantly affect fish behavior.
  • Pre-Tournament Scouting: Spend time on the lake before the tournament to locate productive fishing spots. Keep track of where and when you catch fish.
  • Stay Versatile: Be adaptable in your fishing approach. If one strategy isn’t working, don’t hesitate to switch tactics, locations, or baits.

2. Strategies for Different Types of Fish in Lake Erie:

  • Walleye: Focus on deeper waters during warmer months. Trolling with crankbaits or worm harnesses can be effective. Pay attention to the water temperature, as walleye often seek specific temperature ranges.
  • Bass: For smallmouth bass, rocky structures and drop-offs are prime spots. Use tube jigs or crankbaits. For largemouth, explore weedy areas with spinnerbaits or plastic worms.
  • Perch: Look for schools in deeper waters. Use minnows or worm-tipped jigs. Keep an eye on the sonar for schools of perch near the bottom.
  • Rods and Reels: Medium-heavy rods are versatile for most Lake Erie species. Spinning reels for casting and baitcasting reels for trolling are recommended.
  • Lures and Baits: Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics are essential. Live baits like minnows and worms are effective, especially for perch and walleye.
  • Technology: Utilize fish finders and GPS units. They are invaluable for locating fish and navigating the lake’s vast areas.
  • Safety Gear: Always have proper safety equipment, including life jackets, especially considering Lake Erie’s unpredictable weather.

Participating in a Lake Erie fishing tournament is more than just a chance to showcase your fishing skills; it’s an opportunity to become part of a vibrant and passionate community. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to the sport, these tournaments offer a unique experience that combines the thrill of competition with the beauty and majesty of one of North America’s Great Lakes.

Additional Resources

For those interested in participating in Lake Erie fishing tournaments or seeking more information, the following resources will be invaluable:

  1. Lake Erie Bass Challenge:
  1. Lake Erie Fall Brawl:
  1. Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s Master Walleye Circuit:
  1. Michigan Walleye Tour:
  1. Walleye Slam:

Contact Information for Tournament Organizers:

  • For specific inquiries, it’s best to contact the organizers directly through the contact forms or email addresses provided on their respective websites.

Resources for Fishing Licenses and Local Regulations:

These resources provide comprehensive information about fishing licenses and local regulations in the Lake Erie region. It’s crucial to be informed about and adhere to all fishing regulations to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing practices.

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