Iowa Great Lakes Chamber to finalize Walleye Weekend decision Monday

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
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Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber CEO Blain Andera has set a Monday, April 20, deadline to finalize a decision about 2020 Iowa Great Lakes Walleye Weekend events.

The annual spring fishing tournament is scheduled to take place May 2-3. Chamber officials have said they would continue to evaluate the progress of COVID-19 containment and will make necessary decisions as the popular event approaches. Members of the chamber's board of directors held a video conference meeting Wednesday to get an update and discuss the next step in the process.

"We are continuing to monitor new information provided by the governor and DNR (Iowa Department of Natural Resources), and are exploring safe and creative ways to continue this tradition," Andera said in a statement after the meeting. "We will post our final decision on the tournament no later than the end of the day on Monday, April 20."

Walleye Weekend is the official opener for walleye fishing in the Iowa Great Lakes. This year's fishing tournament once again called for 10 specially-tagged walleye to be released in the Iowa Great Lakes. The top prize for catching a tagged walleye during the 38th annual event would be $38,000.

The chamber's board and staff members have been concerned about safety amid the global COVID-19 pandemic because the event traditionally draws lines at boat ramps and brisk sales at bait shops. The tournament also concludes with a Sunday awards luncheon which attracts hundreds of anglers to the Dickinson County Expo Center in Spirit Lake.

Last year's tournament drew more than 2,100 participants from 17 different states including Delaware, Florida and California.

Iowa is not under stay-at-home restrictions, but Gov. Kim Reynolds has an ongoing public health emergency order in place to keep Iowa's public and accredited private schools closed. The order also phased in shut-downs of non-essential businesses including hair salons, clothing stores, movie theaters and fitness centers.

Gatherings of 10 or more people are also banned as part of the order, which expires on April 30.

Dickinson County public health officials are encouraging those who are returning to the Lakes Area to self-isolate for 14 days. COVID-19 is a highly-contagious respiratory illness that can take up to 14 days to manifest.

Year-round and returning Dickinson County residents are reminded to keep:

Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time

Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow/upper arm

Staying home when ill

Practicing social distancing, which means staying at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible.

The Iowa Department of Public Health learned of 96 additional positive cases on Wednesday for a total of 1,995 positive cases. The state health officials counted an additional 407 negative tests for a total of 17,874 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

An additional four deaths were also reported Wednesday. There are 171 patients hospitalized and 908 Iowans had recovered, according to the IDPH.

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