The anticipation level is at an all-time high for 300 walleye anglers this week. That is because the ninth annual Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival is going to take place this Saturday and Sunday June 23-24.
Most of the competing anglers will spend four or five days pre-fishing – scouting the lake – leading up to the tournament on the big reservoir between Helena and Townsend.
The two-day tournament is now the largest of its kind in the state. A total of 150 teams pay a $250 entry fee and, this year, tourney filled by Feb. 21.
While all of the other walleye fishing tourneys seem to be declining in numbers, this one keeps growing in popularity. Why? I think it’s for a number of reasons.
First of all, it is a well run by Doug Breker, the director of the tournament. Breker pushed in the beginning to get the event going and has been with it every since. Just like Breker, most of the many volunteers who help with the tourney have been with since the beginning.
The Townsend area Chamber of Commerce backs the event and has used the monies 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 prices, 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 the arguably the best walleye lake in the state if you look at numbers of fish being caught. During the two-day tourney two years ago, there were 972 fish caught that weighed a combined weight of 1836 pounds. That is just shy of a 2-pound average, a nice size walleye in any fisherman’s book.
The tourney once again boasted a winning team that caught over 70 pounds of fish for the two days. Oh, and the $10,000 first place cash prize also makes the tourney very attractive to walleye anglers who love to fish against each other.
This year we will also add another $1000 to the first place team if they beat last year’s winning weight.
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 could help notice a boat trolling for trout about 150 yards from me. It seemed like every time I looked, he had his boat stopped and the net out ready to get another trout.
Carp are also abundant in the lake and the sport called carp shooting has sprung up in popularity with bowhunters. Even anglers who don’t bowhunt in the traditional sense have been enjoying shooting arrows at carp that are visible just under the surface.
It’s just another way for a sportsman or woman to spend a fun time on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.
The summer Walleye tourney season continues on Fort Peck Reservoir next month with the 20th Montana Walleye Governors Cup to be held July 13-14. It still has openings. If you want to enter, call the Glasgow area Chamber at 406-228-2222.
Fishing has been excellent on Fort Peck so it should be a good tourney.
The winning team in the Rock Creek Tourney that was held a couple of weeks ago weighed in 10 walleyes for over 93 pounds to take first place.
It is the first day of summer and fishing is good all across Montana. Whether you are fishing in a tournament or just for fun, try and include a kid. You will be making memories for them that last a lifetime.