I am an avid tournament angler in the Manitoba and Northwest Ontario region where I compete at well over a dozen events over the course of the open water season. While these events are thoroughly enjoyable and help to satiate my competitive nature, they can also be very stressful and sometimes leave me doubting that I know anything about fishing at all. That’s why I always look forward to family events where I can have my daughters join me in the boat. These tournaments are still very competitive and the top prizes are substantial, but the focus is more on having fun and introducing young anglers to the sport.
On June 20, we attended the Angler Young Angler walleye tournament hosted by Craig Stapon of Lund Boats. Taking place at Lac Du Bonnet, this event requires one adult angler and two young anglers (17 years and under) per team. My partners were my daughters Alyssa (8) and Kayla (7). It was their idea to enter this competition as they had found out that the winner of this regional championship would represent Manitoba at the North American Championship. The winner of that tournament wins an ‘all expenses paid’ trip to Disney World. The weather was hot and muggy all day but we came prepared wearing beach wear under our life jackets. The girls each caught their share of walleyes including a few big northern pike. We had a picnic on the boat and they each had a nap after lunch to the rocking of the boat on the water. The closest we came to getting a legal Master Angler walleye (over 70cm) to weigh in was late in the afternoon when I hooked into a giant. After fighting the fish for a few tense moments while the girls cheered me on, we only caught a glimpse of it under the boat before the hook popped out. It was a long ride back to the dock having them bemoan my fish fighting skills. In the end we weighed in 5 respectable ‘slot’ sized walleyes (under 45cm) for a total weight of just under five pounds putting us in 6th place.
The very next weekend on June 27, we were back at again at Lac Du Bonnet. This time we entered the annual Generation Next Angler Family Walleye Tournament organized by Todd ‘the Rock ‘N Roll Fisherman’ Longley. The GNA requires one adult female, one adult male, and two young anglers (17 years and under) per team. This was our third year entering having finished in 8th place and then improving to 6th last year. I had joked on the drive out that we should expect to finish in 4th if the pattern was to hold up. The day was mostly spent dodging thunderstorms all over the lake and trying to fish in between. The girls hid under the bimini top to get out of the passing rain downpours throughout the day. They still fished hard and ended up getting a few fish each. We had just an okay bag of ‘slots’ nearing the 3:30 pm end time when I decided to go back to the spot where I had lost the big fish the week before. Not too long after I had a big slam on my line and the fight was on. I was nervous as heck as I don’t think I could handle another round of lecturing from the girls if I lost this fish. After a few moments my wife Divine was able to net the monster walleye. Well over the required 70cm I put it in the livewell, released our smallest fish that just got replaced, and we headed back to the weigh-in dock early. We thought that we had a good chance at being in the Top 3 or maybe even winning outright. In the end our weight of 12.89 lbs put us in 4th place, just like we were supposed to.
If you are interested in joining a family event of this kind, check out kickerfish.ca on the web for a list of local tournaments and derbies.