Tournament fishing is not for everyone. But they are for some.
Throughout the year, I am frequently asked about fishing tournaments that take place around the state.
Most of these questions are geared toward the walleye tournaments that offer some nice cash rewards if you are successful.
Bass tourneys are also extremely popular. Even thought the cash prizes are not as generous at bass events, more often than not, they offer you the ability to qualify for larger bass tourneys in the region.
Most anglers that fish tourneys in Montana are average-to-skilled fishermen. Count me among them. Like I always say about my own fishing abilities, “If the fish are biting, I will probably catch some. If they aren’t, we’d better get lucky.”
In fact, sometimes being lucky is better than being good. But either way, it can be fun trying.
What kind of equipment you will need really depends on the water you are fishing. If the tournament is on Fort Peck Reservoir, for example, then a 17-foot-plus boat is recommended, equipped with a 100-plus horsepower motor, electric trolling motor for the bow, a smaller 8-9.9 horsepower gas motor, also for trolling, an electronic fishfinder and a GPS unit.
A boat set up like this won’t necessarily help you catch more fish than a smaller boat, but it will enable you to get to where the fish are biting and back to tournament headquarters when windy or stormy weather settles in.
When you fish tournaments, you fish the water and the weather together — rain or shine. You don’t have the luxury of saying let’s stay in today and read a book. You go when and where the rest of the competition goes.
Now if the tourney is on a lake like Fresno Reservoir, Tiber Dam or Canyon Ferry, you might be able to get by with a smaller boat like 16 footer and still be in the running for the money.
In any case, tourney fishing can be a lot of fun just for the friendships that you make along the way and the things you can learn from other fishermen.
A lot of anglers fish with their kids and spouses, as most tourneys have special prizes for mixed couples and adult/child teams.
If you were interested in participating in a fishing tournament, then I would suggest contacting the following organizations about registering:
For local bass tournaments of the Big Sky Bassers, contact club member Ron Zachariasen at 721-7052 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Northern Pike tournaments you can also contact Zachariason for local opportunities or for The PikeMasters pike derby on Fort Peck Reservoir contact Bob Rausch at 406-656-4079.
For the Montana Governors Cup Walleye Tournament, call the Glasgow area Chamber of Commerce at 406-228-2222.
For the Tough Guy Tourney on May 1 out of Hell Creek Marina on Fort Peck Reservoir call Joe Herbold 406-557-2302.
For all the six tourneys that are scheduled for the Montana Walleyes Unlimited Walleye Circuit contact Steve Harada 653-1463.
More information and entry forms are available over the Internet at: www.bigskybassers.com (Big Sky Bassers), www.pikemasters.com (Montana PikeMasters) or www.walleyesunlimited.com (Walleyes Unlimited of Montana).
Tournaments start as early as April and go through September. Good luck and have fun in them.