The “Fishing for Dollars” season is well underway. Spring Mack Days on Flathead Lake began three weeks ago to kick off the 2016 open water fishing derbies and tournaments in Montana. Fishing contests around Montana help the local economy as anglers compete for cash and prizes. This is really the case when it comes to the Montana Governor’s Cup Walleye tournament on Fort Peck Reservoir. 29 years ago the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce and Ag started the first Gov Cup and it has now become not only the major fund raiser for the chamber but a real shot in the arm for local businesses in Glasgow and the town of Fort Peck. The popularity of the Gov Cup probably has a lot to do with how the walleye fishing is on Fort Peck Reservoir.
A few years back when the water elevation on the 134 mile reservoir was low and the fishing was probably fair at best the entries for the two- person teams competing was 80. Last year as the word spread that the walleye fishing was very good the tournament hit its maximum teams at 200. This year with the tournament over 3 months away there are already 120 teams registered and the tourney co-chair Todd Young thinks they might fill sometime in early May if not sooner, “We are way ahead of last year at this time, it seems that the success we had last year with filling it up has really carried over to this year”, he said. There were many years that the local anglers waited till the last week to enter the tournament but last year some were dry docked when the tournament filled a couple of weeks before it started. “There is definitely a little urgency now and that has helped get us to where we are right now”.
The entry fee for each two person team is $300 and each team can buy into additional chances to win with $100 a day money fee. They can also participate in pots that award more money if they catch the biggest walleye or northern pike. Last year’s winners Sam Lawson & Clay Kittleson from Fort Peck caught 34.52 pounds of walleye in two days to take home $15,000. Teams competing come from all over the U.S. filling up area campgrounds and motels. “We sold close to 3000 gallons of gas a day with most of fuel going into boats”, said Gene Moore the owner of Lakeridge Motel and Tackle Shop which is located at the dam. With over 400 anglers buying bait, fuel, lodging, groceries and meals the event has a tremendous impact on the local merchants.
The Gov Cup like all Walleyes Unlimited Circuit Tournaments across the state is a catch and release tourney. This year’s Gov Cup is scheduled for July 7-9th, with tournament fishing to be held on Friday and Saturday of that week. Call 406-228-2222 to get information and enter. The 29th Montana Gov Walleye might be the longest running of all the fishing contests in Montana but it certainly isn’t the only one. For a complete listing of 2016 open water fishing contests log onto the Tournament Tracker Page here.
(Written by The Captain aka Mark Ward)