What a tournament! The ninth annual Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic was this past weekend and it was spectacular. I had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. The competition was fierce, there was 44 anglers competing for top honors and the door prize was a beautiful Wilderness Systems Ride 115 kayak.
The Eastslope Classic is the premier kayak fishing tournament of the year. This is the Tournament where kayak fishing started in Alberta, now in it’s 9th year the event is only getting bigger. The Tournament is a catch, photo, release event and we were able to submit photos of our biggest pike, walleye, trout and sucker. It was again hosted at Glennifer Lake and Dickson Trout Pond, unfortunately I haven’t fished Glennifer before but I had a plan of attack.
My game plan was to get out on the trout pond for the first couple of hours and catch two fish,then moving on to the reservoir to troll for some walleye and pike. The fishing was tough, due to the reservoir conditions and I did make some mistakes. The first mistake was that I didn’t bring my fly rod for trout, the forecast was calling for thunderstorms so I just assumed it would be windy. I thought I would be okay with the spinning rod and my slip bobber technique was getting lots of bites but I wasn’t able to set the hook on a trout. They were biting so light that it was really tough to detect when to set the hook. It could have been that my slip bobber was too big, I may pick up the smallest size Thill slip bobber and try it out next time. My second mistake was that I did not bring bait like worms or minnows for suckers. I wasn’t too bothered by that fact because I’ve never caught a sucker before and I didn’t think I would have much luck anyway.
I made it to the trout pond at 6:30am and stubbornly fished until 10:30am. After an unsuccessful few hours I moved over to the reservoir to go for pike and walleye. The water was so muddy I couldn’t see an inch into it and there was so much debris in the water I couldn’t tell what was a fish or a log flowing in the current. The wind was also picking up at this time and was blowing my kayak around 1.5 km/h, perfect for dragging a bottom bouncer. I rigged one up on my baitcaster and trolled around an artificial leech, moving upwind and then drifting back down, constantly scanning for structure. After a few hours of catching sticks and weeds I was feeling pretty embarrassed for myself. I came into the tournament from a great fishing trip to Slave Lake and I was feeling very confident, but I was quickly reminded how unpredictable fishing can be.
I finished off the day back on the trout pond. Nearing the end of the day I was getting tired, too tired to keep battling the wind. A pedal drive kayak helps immensely and greatly extends my range but everyone has their limits. I knew where the fish were going to be but again I couldn’t seem to land one.
Finally at 5pm, tail tucked and defeated, I went back to the Hall for check-in. I gave my numbered card back to Mike (the Director) and told him about my bust, he laughed and exclaimed that I wasn’t alone. Of the 44 anglers, 17 actually caught something. The other 27 of us tied for 18th place. I really don’t know how Mike does it but there was a ton of prizes and everyone went home with something, not just great memories. I was lucky enough to have won a Quantum baitcaster and am looking forward to trying it out.
At long last it was time for the biggest prize of the day, a Radar 115 kayak. Draws are typically done by randomly picking a name from a hat, but that doesn’t cut it for Mike. Instead, everyone stands up and as your number is drawn you are eliminated. It’s a great way to build suspense and I was getting pretty excited as numbers were called and I was still standing. I made it to the top 15 before I was eliminated.
Although fishing is what brings us together, these tournaments are more than that. It’s getting together people who share a common interest, and it’s taking a sport that is normally solo and making it social. I know I’m not the only one who looks forward to these tournaments each season, and I hope that they continue to grow and become bigger and better every year. Thanks to Mike and everyone who works so hard to coordinate these events. See you at the next one!