Target Walleye Has an Open Letter to the Fishing Industry

This morning FTR received some special news for North America’s growing number of walleye fishermen. That news is the launch of a new place for walleye fishermen online—Target Walleye.

Target Walleye is an initiative from a group of diehard walleye fishermen to bring more support to what they call a “vastly underserved” walleye market. Quite honestly, they’re right. The walleye market is underserved, but that isn’t the only goal of Target Walleye. In an open letter to the industry, the group hits on a number of causes important to walleye anglers around the country. You can read the letter in its entirety below:

An Open Letter to the Marine, Fishing Tackle & Related Industries

By Al & Ron Lindner, Jim Kalkofen and Jay Kumar

We would like to announce to you the formation of a new digital initiative called Target Walleye. The reasons for Target Walleye are simple and boil down to this:

  • The walleye market – a key piece of the fishing and marine business – is, and has been, underserved media-wise for way too long.
  • There’s more activity in the walleye segment than ever before.
  • There’s no focal point for everything walleye-related.
  • There’s a great thirst for walleye media across all the digital platforms: mobile, social, website, etc.

With that as a framework, please read on.

It’s no secret that the last decade saw the marine, fishing tackle and allied industries go through a quantum shift in the way they do business compared to how they operated during the previous three decades.

Since the economic earthquake of 2008 rocked the boating and tackle industries, almost every segment of the landscape changed. The digital revolution negatively impacted print media big-time – many tackle and marine companies completely dropped or severely curtailed their print advertising.

Television fishing shows didn’t suffer as much as the magazine world, but remained relatively flat, despite more shows on more outdoor networks. The same situation emerged with professional anglers, and today companies are very selective and “pro” programs are not as deep nor as generous.

One of the casualties during this industry and media upheaval has been the walleye world. It’s clear that this market is vastly underserved. Some companies, mostly due to limited budgets, decided to direct most of their freshwater marketing to the easiest and biggest target – namely bass fishing. In some cases, this was justified. However, this strategy might be considered extremely short-sighted after examining a few facts.

For instance, boats sold to multi-species anglers (stripers, walleyes, muskies and even bass) are referred to as “walleye boats.” These deep-vee boats represent 40 percent of all freshwater fishing boats sold. Many come equipped with a main outboard and a kicker outboard for trolling. Two outboards on one boat—yes! And walleye boats usually have both bow and transom electric trolling motors.

Electronics are critical to walleye anglers for locating underwater structure fishing spots and areas miles out of sight of any shoreline. Walleye anglers demand and purchase more sophisticated electronics units than those who chase other freshwater species. Two or three units per boat is the norm.

Rods and reels are another big story. The average competitive walleye angler, and many everyday walleye fishermen, use multiple rods for many tactics – trolling, rigging, bobbering, etc. Research shows the average walleye angler owns more rods than the average bass angler. More rods means more reels to be spooled.

More gear is likewise required to do the job: hooks, lures, sinkers, boards, downriggers, rod-holders, nets, foul-weather clothing, jigs, bait bags, drift socks and, of course, fillet knives (walleyes are tasty!). Walleye shopping carts fill up quickly. The more new tactics and products that are revealed to average walleye fishermen, the more gear they buy.

The demise of the Walleye In-Sider and FLW walleye magazines eliminated primary sources of news that covered this significant market. The good news is these entities didn’t fold because people were doing less walleye fishing. In fact, people are actually doing MORE walleye fishing – and they are catching more and bigger fish. Did you know that right now more competitive walleye events are taking place than ever before?

Many people, including industry folks, are not aware this is happening because it’s been increasingly difficult to keep up with the fast-changing pace of and events in the walleye segment of the fishing market.

While the educational aspects of walleye fishing remain well-received on television, so much of the walleye world is not covered, even on the internet. For example, walleye anglers are eager to learn how Shane and Stacy Hastings just won $137,000 in a walleye tournament. And how pro fishermen like Chase Parsons, Korey Sprengel and Keith Kavajecz use new tackle or adapt old methods to win tournaments. And much more that’s going on in this vibrant yet underserved market.

Today, with current media technology, this information – if covered somewhere – can be read, heard and seen the same day, and received by any digital method preferred: smartphone, tablet, email, laptop/desktop, social media, etc. Today’s public wants information and news short, sweet, convenient and now.

The long, in-depth articles of 30 or 40 years ago were needed at that time, but today’s anglers know the basics. They want and need to grow beyond the ABCs and progress to the XYZs to learn how to find and catch more and bigger walleyes. And they want to do it now!

More and more people live by and on their mobile devices. They read newspapers, do research, set dates and reminders, keep up with friends, send invitations, announce weddings and babies, manage activities, take and share photos, and much more. You do it, we do it, everyone does it – more and more. “Mobile” is the fastest-growing way to access almost everything.

With mobile and social media growing rapidly, the time to hitch the walleye world to this communication system is now. That’s what Target Walleye does.

Target Walleye is all of the above. It is short, sweet and now, yet highly informative. It’s fun. It’s easily and widely accessible: mobile, social and website (and soon by app and text). In short, it is the right thing at the right time.

We hope you will support our efforts to bring Target Walleye to the walleye and ice-fishing masses, and reinvigorate this key piece of the marine and fishing business.

For more information about Target Walleye, please give any one of us a call or contact Jim Kalkofen at jim@targetwalleye.com. Also go to TargetWalleye.com, or Target Walleye on Facebook or Twitter.

What’s your take on Target Walleye? Tell us how you feel about their statement in the comments section below.