Captain’s Column: Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival

Fishing is starting to pick up as the waters warm up on the lakes and reservoirs.

This weekend, the popular Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival will be held on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. The annual walleye tournament is sponsored by the Townsend-area chamber of commerce and attracts 150 two- person teams that will compete for a $10,000 first-place cash prize.

Over the years, this walleye tournament has yielded some of the biggest weights of any walleye tournament held across Montana. A few years back, the winners had to catch over 75 pounds of walleyes over two days to win. Each team is allowed to enter its 5 largest fish caught each day, so in that case it would be a 7.5 pounds average per fish. Last year, however, high spring runoff it for tough fishing and the winning team caught only about 15 pounds of fish. This year, the runoff is back to normal, so look for the weights to be substantially better.

On top of the water warming, walleye fishing is starting to pick up from the reports that have been posted this week on MontanaOutdoor.com.

This Canyon Ferry fishing report came from Adam Strainer, a FWP fish Technician. “Walleye fishing is really picking up as water temperatures stabilize in the low to mid 60’s.  Most of the action continues to be on the south end from Confederate Bay around to Hole-in-the-Wall and everything in between.  Trolling worm harnesses tipped with worms or leeches and vertical jigging has produced the most fish.  Anglers are targeting fish in depths ranging from 8 to 25 feet of water.”

Paul Lindsoe of Three Forks had this to say about his fishing experience last week on Canyon Ferry, “I’ve been catching eyes on CF lately.  And thanks for giving me those Smile blades, they’re working great! I tied up what I call our Captain America rig a 2 hook worm harness, then blue bead, red and white floater, white bead, then a blue Smile blade. We caught 72 eyes in 4 partial days fishing.”

If you like to jig fish, then this report from Trevor Johnson of Kits Tackle may help, “We had caught 5 fish over 25 inches including a 29 and 30 incher. Despite the fact that we caught some very nice fish there is no rhyme or reason to finding fish on Canyon Ferry.”

Johnson covered the entire lake searching for walleyes and ended up catching the larger fish with his glass minnow jig throughout the lake, not just in one area.

On Saturday morning, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m., Jim Farrington, Adam Strainer and I will be broadcasting the Montana Outdoor Radio Show live on the water for the 14th year. We’ll be discussing how all three of the reservoirs near Helena have been fishing this spring for trout and walleye.

Tune in to our broadcast in Missoula and Hamilton on KGVO 1290AM/101.5FM or KLYQ 1240AM, in Polson on KERR 750AM and in Kalispell on KJJR 880AM.