Every year at this time, I spend four or five days leading up to the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.
The two-day tournament is now the largest of its kind in the state. A full field of 150 two-person teams pay a $250 entry fee. This year, the field filled up by the end of March.
While all of the other walleye fishing tourneys seem to be declining in numbers, this one keeps growing in popularity. Why? I think for a number of reasons.
First of all, it is well run by Doug Breker, the director of the tournament now in its 8th year. Breker pushed in the beginning to get the event going and has been with it ever since.
Just like Breker, most of the many volunteers who help with the tourney have been with it since the beginning. The Townsend area chamber of commerce backs the event and has used the money raised for some local improvements in the town and on the lake.
Another reason is the population base of Bozeman-Belgrade and Helena just a short drive away. With high gas price,s it makes it easier on the pocketbook, rather than go to farther away place like Fort Peck Reservoir.
Then, there is the fishery. Canyon Ferry has developed into arguably the best walleye lake in the state if you look at numbers of fish being caught.
During the two-day tourney, there were 972 fish caught that weighed a combined weight of 1,836 pounds. That is just shy of a two-pound average, a nice-size walleye in any fisherman’s book.
The tourney once again boasted a winning team of over 70 pounds for a total of 10 fish caught over the two days.
Dave Greger, of Gallatin Gateway, and Jim Muscat, from Big Sky, caught 31.68 pounds of walleye on Day One and 40.1 pounds of walleye on Day 2 for a total of 71.76 pounds. For their effort, they won the $10,000 cash prize along with other prizes including the largest fish the second day that weighed 12.06 pounds. Not bad for two days of fishing.
Yes, Canyon Ferry is a terrific walleye fishery and gains more notoriety every year with its great fishing.
Canyon Ferry also produces some great trout catches, too! One day last week, when I was fishing for walleyes in an area known as Hole In the Wall by the locals, I couldn’t help notice a boat trolling for trout about 150 yards from me.
It seemed like every time I looked, the angler had his boat stopped and the net out ready to get another trout.
Carp are also abundant in the lake and carp shooting has increased in popularity with bow hunters.
Even anglers who don’t bow hunt in the traditional sense have been enjoying shooting arrows at Carp that swim and are visible just under the surface. Just another way for a sportsman or woman to spend a fun time on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.
The summer Walleye tourney season continues. Next up is Fort Peck Reservoir. The Montana Governors Cup Walleye Tournament will be held July 7-8. They still have openings if you want to enter call the Glasgow area Chamber at 406-228-2222.
Fishing has been picking up on Fort Peck, so it should be a good tourney. The new Fort Peck Multi-Species Fish Hatchery, in the town of Fort Peck, will also be dedicated that week on July 6.