Rainy River Walleye Tournament to offer a weekend full of fun

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

With the start of fishing only days away, there’s no better time than this weekend to make the trip out to the west end of the district to enjoy the 2023 Rainy River Walleye Tournament.

This year’s event is scheduled to take place from Thursday, September 14, to Saturday, September 16, 2023, with plenty on offer for the whole family. With beloved events returning, nights filled with fantastic entertainment and, of course, two days of great fishing, there’s something for everyone at this year’s tournament.

While there is no fishing taking place on Thursday, there are still plenty of reasons to make the drive. Admission is free on Thursday, which is a bonus because that way there’s no excuse to not take in the Boat Parade beginning at 4:00 p.m. and kicking the weekend of fun off right. The parade is followed by the fisherman’s dinner at 5:00 p.m., which is not open to the public, as well as the official reading of the rules. Once 7:00 p.m. rolls around, the beer gardens open up, which will require two pieces of government issued ID for service, and one piece must be photo ID. Capping off Thursday night will be a mix and mingle featuring music from Top Music Productions.

Friday marks the official start of fishing action for the 2023 tournament, with anglers departing along the river beginning at 7:30 a.m. Later that day, beginning at 12:00 p.m. noon and running through to 6:00 p.m., the Rainy River Walleye Tournament will open up their silent auction, while vendors will open up their wares for perusal, and the West Rainy River District  Lions Club will be onhand with their penny table and raffle. There will also be music playing for enjoyment throughout the lunch hours, lasting from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. 

Beginning at 1:00 p.m., the Rainy River Hospital Auxiliary will have break open tickets available for sale, with proceeds from the ticket sales going to hospital projects.

Beer gardens for Friday open at 2:00 p.m., just in time for the weigh-ins, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the big tent.

Friday’s ever-popular fish fry dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. at the tournament, with plates available for $25 per person. The dinner is being hosted by the West Rainy River District Lions club. Following dinner, an open mic, open music session is planned for 6:30 p.m., and the final event of the night will be a community dance featuring the service and skills of 2-Tone Music, who will keep energy high from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Entry to the dance is $15 at the door, and the same government ID requirements as the beer gardens will be in effect.

Following an exciting first day of fishing action, Saturday will see anglers head out again beginning at 7:30 a.m. Tournament fans also won’t have to wait nearly as long for fun activities that morning as the Touch a Truck event begins at 9:00 a.m. and will last until 11:00 a.m. The Rainy River Walleye Tournament silent auction opens back up at 10:00 a.m., and bidding on the items will close later that afternoon at 5:30 p.m. the Rainy River EarlyON Child and Family Centre will also open up at the tournament from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Those little ones in the district hoping for some fishing of their own should head down to the tournament dock for 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. to register for the Kids Mini Tournament, which will depart in two flights that morning. The first flight of young anglers age 7 and under will fish from 11:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., and the second flight of anglers aged 8 and over will fish from 11:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. All Kids Mini Tournament participants must bring a lifejacket.

The beer gardens for Saturday’s events will open up at 1:00 p.m., and an open mic and karaoke session is being planned for 1:00 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. The Rainy River Hospital Auxiliary wil again be on hand, beginning at 12:00 p.m. noon until 5:00 p.m. for more pull tab sales.

Finally, the event every participant and attendee is waiting for will arrive. Beginning at 3:30 p.m., weigh-ins for that day’s fishing will get underway and will narrow the playing field entry after entry until only this year’s 2023 Rainy River Walleye Tournament Champions are left. But who will they be? Awards presentations will follow the weigh-ins at 5:30 p.m., but before that happens, the West Rainy River District Lions Club will open up the pig roast dinner. Tickets for the dinner are $25. The Lions Club will also be pulling the winning ticket for their 2023 Pontoon Boat Raffle at 7:00 p.m., so be sure to have your tickets ready.

Finally, bringing the tournament to a close, local rockers Thinking of Pinky will take to the tent stage beginning at 9:00 p.m. for a night of great music, with tickets available for $20 at the door. The band will play through to 1:00 a.m., capping off another great year of walleye fishing action.

Daytime admission on Friday and Saturday is $5.00 for adults, with children 5 and under getting in free until 8:00 p.m.