The South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival will be held in Akaska over the weekend as the fishing tournament is scheduled for July 19-22.
Since the tournament is part of the Northern Oahe Walleye Series, the top 20 teams will be automatically qualified for the Championship Tournament, which will be held on August 18.
This year, the tournament has a limit of 75 teams, but South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival helper, Dick Sorensen, said there will be closer to 60 teams participating in the tournament.
The tournament will kick off on Thursday when the registration and rules meeting take place. On Friday, at 8 a.m., the boats are scheduled to launch, and anglers are allowed to fish until 4 p.m. Fishing weigh-ins will be held at the Akaska Community Center.
After the boats return, the Arts in the Park event is scheduled to start. At 8 p.m. on Friday, there will be musical entertainment from the Storytellers at the Akaska Bait Shop.
On Saturday, the same format will follow. The boats will launch at 8 a.m., and return at 4 p.m., giving anglers seven hours of fishing each day. There will be a bean bag tournament at the Akaska Bait Shop on Saturday.
The South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival started in 2007, when Gov. Rounds launched a million-dollar challenge to promote tourism in South Dakota. George Kessler, Brad Schilling and Dick Sorensen set out to create a Pro-Am fishing tournament in Akaska, which was held on August 27-29, 2008. 46 professional anglers showed up at Akaska, while 92 amateur anglers entered in the inaugural tournament.
The South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival is the lone event remaining from the Tourism One-Million Dollar Challenge.
Tournament helps Akaska
Last Wednesday, volunteers donated their pontoons and time to senior citizen anglers and took them out to the lake. The SDWC members gave the senior citizens lunch, took them fishing and sent them home with a full belly. It’s an annual event that’s held the Wednesday before the tournament.
The South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival has given quite a bit to the community of Akaska. With the help of funding from the SDWC, the Akaska Community Center was established.
The members of the SDWC have aimed to make it friendlier for kids with events.
Also, the Swan Creek Recreational Area sees an increase in usage, as the boats launch from there.
“There are boats from one end to another,” Sorensen said.
Swan Creek Recreation Area has electrical campsites available for $17 a night and non-electrical for $13.