Fishing tournaments can be a lot of fun. They also can build a reputation for the lake that they are held on.
After last weekend, Canyon Ferry Reservoir is now officially on par with Fort Peck Reservoir for big walleyes.
Last year, the winning team in the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival caught and released 10 walleyes, five each day, that totaled 72.50 pounds. That’s a very healthy average of 7.25 pounds per fish.
The winning team also had about double the weight of its nearest competitor.
This year, a different team from Helena found some big walleyes. Mark Stevens and Alan Johnson caught five walleyes that weighed 43.78 pounds the first day. On the second day, they landed five fish that weighed 34.72 pounds.
Their two-day total ended up being 78.50 pounds a new tournament record.
What is so impressive with their performance is that they didn’t catch anything bigger than 10.82 pounds and they didn’t register anything less than 5.28 pounds for the two days.
If you are a walleye fisherman, you know how tough it is to consistently catch walleyes no matter what the size. In fact, only 14 teams in the tourney caught no fish either day. Out of 150 teams, that is not bad at all. Typically, the percentage is much higher.
For their efforts, Stevens and Johnson came away with $10,000. The second place team, brothers Wally and Jake Tuck from Great Falls, jigged their way to $5,000 as they caught 42.64 pounds of walleyes for the two days.
To show how unpredictable walleye fishing can be, the Tuck brothers weighed in 38.22 pounds the first day and the second day they caught just one walleye that weighed 4.42 pounds.
Richard Hoffman and Steve Root from Manhattan managed to catch the largest walleye in day one that weighed 11.42 pounds.
A total of 626 walleyes were scored by the anglers that total was about half of the fish that were entered last year.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir has been controversial with its 20-per-day walleye limit while most lakes in Montana have a five day limit. And now, two back to back annual tournaments with an average of 10 fish in the 7.50 pound range will attract fisherman from hundreds of miles away.
Already one of the most fished lakes in Montana, Canyon Ferry will now have walleye anglers expectations at a high level. Can it continue to produce consistent large walleyes? The chances are very good.
This year, the Helena area has received above average rainfall for the year to date. The reservoir is at full pool â€“ in fact, it is the fullest I have ever seen it. The water level should remain high late into July.
The water temperature is still in the low 60s. Normal temperature at this time of the year would be in the 70s. July should be a good month for walleye anglers on the south end of the lake when the water temperature warms.
The south end bites have already become legend around Montana with every boat that is fishing the area usually having fish when the bite is on. It just hasn’t happened very often though June.
It might be time for you to go over and try your luck. Remember all those walleyes that were caught in the tourney were tagged and released back into the lake. One just might have your name on it.