The Iowa Walleye Challenge, a statewide catch-and-release fishing tournament, started on May 1st. There are weekly prizes over the next two months, but the ultimate catch will be the data entered in a smart phone app. Sean Simmons is president of MyCatch, the app for recording the location where the walleye is caught and a photo of the fish before it’s released it back into the water.
One key part of the tournament is taking a photo to show the size of walleye being caught in Iowa. Simmons says participants can use a tape measurer or what’s called a bump board.
A team will review the photos and determine if the fish meets the guidelines of the contest. There will be a live leaderboard on the app, showing who has caught the largest walleye. Simmons stresses that the goal isn’t to pull a lot of walleye out of circulation, however.
Staff in state-run fisheries stock walleye in lakes across the state and conduct surveys in a handful of lakes and rivers to try to estimate the walleye population. Simmons is providing his app to the State of Iowa to not only collect data on the size of walleye that are caught over the next two months, but anglers are being asked to type in where they caught their fish. Simmons says secret fishing spots will stay secret.
Simmons says the important part of the tournament is collecting as much information as possible, so prizes aren’t necessarily going to go to the person who catches the largest fish — and there will be prizes for people who don’t catch any fish. The MyCatch app has been used for several competitive fishing tournaments in Canada and at a few locations in the United States.
The MyCatch app handled over 700 participants who caught-and-released 12-thousand striped bass in the Miramachi Cup in New Brunswick last October. You can find information about the Iowa Walleye Challenge on www.radioiowa.com.