First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to all the amazing anglers and volunteers that make the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival possible. We feel so incredibly lucky to fish and compete amongst such a crowd of incredible and stand up anglers. So kudos to you all from Kit’s Tackle!!!
I have grown up tagging along with dad pursuing rainbows and browns on Canyon Ferry since I was two years old. We have spent countless hours casting out every nook and cranny of the lake, it has become second nature. With the trout being a blast, I used to joke with dad that this would be a perfect shoreline if walleyes were present. Little did I know, it wouldn’t be long before they showed up in Canyon Ferry. I will never forget watching my first walleye come to the boat in the crystal clear water on the north end of the lake. Since then, I have watched hundreds of great fish rise from the clear water to find our net. There is only one thing better than watching a big Canyon Ferry walleye rise from the clear water…watching them swim back into itJ
A week before the tournament, dad and I headed out in pursuit of the elusive “Canyon Ferry Yellow Mountain Trout.” With last year being a very tough year and little reports of quality fish and low net counts, we were skeptical. In forty plus hours of pre-fishing the 2011 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival, my largest fish measured in at a whopping 17.25 inches. Starting to cover water down by the dam, dad pitched in with the Kit’s Tackle Yellow Perch “GLASS MINNOW” and thump…27 incher!!! What a way to start and such a great fish!!! By days end, we had two more fish over 25 inches and I was so excited all I could see was yellow!!! Hoping this wasn’t a fluke, we were right back at it the next morning and dad put a 30 inch fish in the boat right off the bat (the high fives were flying) and we ended the day with a huge weight of walleye. Most anglers would be excited because of the big fish or finding them pre-tournament, but all I cared about is that the big fish STILL EXISTED in my home water!!! I love fish of all species in a way that is hard to explain, but nothing gets my jiggin’ arm twitching like big walleyes (it’s what keeps me up at night).
Still flabbergasted at the great fish we had caught, we needed to spend a few more days on the water “Jiggin’ the Dream” before game day. My good friend, Jeff Ingram, and I made it out Thursday morning for daylight to dark work day on the water. We didn’t as much as put down the trolling motor and on my second pitch in…BAM!!! My rod loaded up like a snag from hell…I looked at my rod, I looked at Jeff, I looked at my rod, I looked at Jeff and then the head shake!!! “GET THE NET,” I yelled knowing this was a big fish. Moments later, we watched as one of the longest walleye on my life rose up from the depths. In fact, Jeff’s exact words were “Holy Sh*^ Trevor, that’s a HUGE walleye.” Although it would barely fit in the net, Jeff did a great job getting her in the boat for a photo and release video. Wondering how we could be any more excited we went on to pull over 40 lbs of weight during tournament hours. Talk about a couple giddy fisherman!!!
Dad and I decided to take Friday off and give the fish a break before the big day. We worked up a game plan and decided to stick to it. When the alarm clock went off at 4:00 am on Saturday morning, I had monarch butterflies bouncing around my stomach. After launching the boat and waiting in suspense for the gun to go off, it was time to do what we do best…pull cranks (just kidding). On about the fifth cast of the morning, I banged a healthy 22 incher to get our confidence going. From then on, with the good lord’s help, we managed to catch all five fish including three upgrades. Our smallest of the five fish for Saturday was just shy of twenty inches which is an incredible bag of good fish for Canyon Ferry. Our biggest was a gorgeous north end beauty dad caught pitching the west shore around Painters Point. Happy with the great day of fun together we had, it didn’t cross our minds we would be sitting in second place overall.
I only slept for about an hour Saturday night with my nerves acting like a freshly hooked crawler squirming all over. And I thought I had butterflies on Saturday morning…in fact my stomach was so upset on Sunday that I almost had to use the live well as an outhouse waiting for takeoff. That would have been an embarrassing moment!!! We were the first boat north and with every cast I was waiting in anticipation for that magic feeling. All of a sudden, with only two fish less than 14” in the boat it was 11:30 am and we had to be back by 2:00 pm weigh in. With minor frustrations starting to build we kept our cool and fished our hearts out. We had the Yellow Perch “GLASS MINNOWS” singing through the air in a maniac rhythm. With thoughts of pulling the big ZERO we kept our spirits up and fished for Hero!!! We found a shore with the wind crashing into it and began our rhythm. In one pass we had two fish at 23 inches which felt great!!! I looked over at dad and told him how awesome this was to do together and we both teared up. I told him if I could ask God for one thing it would be a 29” walleye to end the day (why I said 29” I don’t know…didn’t want to get too greedy.) With only about an hour to spare I cast into a pod of carp close to shore and began to jig. On the third “pop” of the jig I bumped a fish and set the hook…nothing there. I told dad, “I pulled my jig into a damn carp but it sure felt like a walleye.” As I was just about to reel in my cast…POW!!! And I mean POW!!! Like no walleye I have ever caught…my drag squealed as the fish bolted up the shore. As dad grabbed for the net, I said, “don’t bother, it’s the same friggin’ carpholio!!!” Next thing I knew the fish was vertical to the boat and not coming up and I yelled “net dad, just in case, it’s acting like a huge walleye.” Never in my lifetime will I ever forget the feeling of seeing that white tail flash come up from the depths and the sounds of my dad’s excitement. God had granted me my 29 inch walleye to finish off the 2012 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival.
After hugging and celebrating and screaming and jumping around we started getting the boat ready to head back. We had forty five minutes to get back, but the wind started to pick up and we didn’t want to take a chance with the weight we had in the live well. We made it back with fifteen minutes to spare which was a smart move on our part and weighed our fish (saving the 29.5” for last of course.) We kept it very consistent both days and weighed in over 21 lbs the first day and just under 20 lbs on day two. As the bite toughened up tremendously on day two we waited in anticipation for Dan Spence and Tianna Workman to return with their weight (Spence is an incredible fisherman I must add.) When they finally made it to weigh, I could barely watch as he pulled fish from his live well. I knew it would only take one big fish for Dan to pass our weight having five fish in his well. As he went for the last fish I held my breath and it was a nice fish but not enough…I looked over at dad and instantly teared up!!! The father and son team of Kit’s Tackle had just won the 2012 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival. I have spent countless nights dreaming of this top honor and to be able to do it with my dad is the true hook set. I will have this memory forever and nobody can ever take that away.
So cheers to my father for making me who I am and to the spiny yellow critters that I love so much!!! And of course, “Jiggin’ the Dream.”
CLICK HERE to check out the Glass Minnow Series jigs the tourney was won on.
YP Glass Minnow Jig