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After competing in the Eastslope Classic kayak fishing tournament for 4 years, I finally caught a fish! I have a hard time describing what it feels like to be skunked during a tournament for three years in a row, and by this point I felt like just hanging up my rods and focusing on taking pictures. Thankfully, I didn’t give up on fishing completely and I finally got that monkey off my back!
Looking back at past tournaments, I actually haven’t been fishing the Eastslope Classic for that long. My first tournament was at Gull Lake in 2017, I missed 2018, but have attended each event since (2020 was cancelled). So even though the skunk curse felt like a decade, it was only a few (long) years.
Eastslope has become a two day event at Glennifer Lake, and, thanks to Directors group, I didn’t have to cook for any of it! There is a BBQ hosted by the Club on Friday and Sunday night, as well as a catered BBQ held by All Season’s Pig Roasts on Saturday, which is just what you need after spending 11 hours on the water fishing!
Day one started early. I was up before 5am and was on the water by 6am at the Dickson Trout pond. My strategy was simple, hit the trout pond early while the air was still cool from the night and leave by 10am for the main lake, hopefully with a couple trout in hand. Well being on the lake was the easy part, I launched the kayak at 6am and found the water temps were still 23°C – not anywhere near ideal trout temperatures. Since I had fished this pond twice before, I knew of a few key pieces of structure that I could key in on throughout the morning. With an indicator rig in hand I sat patiently at my first spot waiting for something hungry to swim by, but after half an hour there were no bites, so I moved on.
The morning went on, half an hour in each spot and trying multiple flies and depths until I struck gold. To my disappointment (but not surprise) I came up empty, it was now 10 am and time to head to the main lake for walleye and pike.
For the tournament I brought 8 different rods rigged for specific techniques and a pile of Plano boxes organized into species and tactics, and since the parking lot was in between the two bodies of water, all I had to do was get to my truck and switch out rods/tackle for new species and I was off again.
After a quick gear swap, I launched from the ramp and headed north along the shore. I knew from previous years that walleye are commonly caught along the steep break so I set up a spinning rig on a bottom bouncer and went to work. The drop off was very steep, going from shore to 30 ft of water within about 20 yards. Trolling along such a steep break can be difficult, especially since the tournament rules forbid fishing in more than 24.5 ft of water. My trolling strategy consisted of maintaining about 2 kph speed, setting my bottom bouncer depth while following the 20ft contour line. Once I set my depth all I had to do was work my way up the shore and try to maintain bottom contact on that 20 ft contour by steering the boat nearer or further from shore. Once my bottom bouncer contacted the bottom I would begin to steer away until I lost contact, then back towards shore in a zig-zag pattern. A line counter reel would be indispensable for this technique but unfortunately my only line counter was loaded with leadcore, so each time I caught a fish I had to spend a few extra minutes finding the right depth again.
Day 2 was a grind, not just for me but everyone seemed to have a tough afternoon. I may have gone a little too hard on day 1 and soaked up a bit too much sun, so in order to recover and rehydrate (and hang out with my dog) I didn’t make it out on the water until 10am.
I started off just like the day before by heading north and trolling a bottom bouncer, just to make sure my fish yesterday wasn’t a fluke. As soon as I arrived at the spot I was catching I had a small walleye on, thank goodness it wasn’t just luck!
Once the skunk was off again, I decided it would be a good day to pedal around and do some sightseeing. I haven’t explored much of the lake and this year I upgraded my fish finder from standard side imaging to mega side imaging, so I was eager to see what the lake looked like underwater.
The afternoon flew by and it was finally time to head back to Eastslope base camp and tally up the winners of the event! One of the biggest perks of attending the Eastslope classic is that every angler goes home with a prize – no matter where you place from top to bottom, you will be getting a spectacular prize pack. On top of that, there is a free BBQ every night, camping is free on-site, plus you have a chance to take home a kayak! That’s pretty great considering entry fees are usually less than a tank of gas!
After all the prizes were given away its my turn to take the stage. As an Old Town Pro Staff I have the privilege of being able award the Eastslope door prize, an Old Town Sportsman 106 PDL! This is the first pedal drive kayak that the Eastslope Classic has been able to award and I am proud that it’s an Old Town. A big thank you goes out to Dave and Ryan at Old Town Kayaks for sponsoring such a fantastic prize for the event!
Every angler deserves to win and I wish we could give kayaks away like candy at a parade! Unfortunately this year there could be only one winner, but fortunately for Gordon, it was him! Big congratulations to Gordon on winning a new pedal drive kayak! Give him a follow at @gbuss_outdoors on Instagram and check out his YouTube to see what he gets up too in his new kayak.
Again, a big thank you goes out to all the sponsors of the trail, without them there wouldn’t be such a fantastic lineup of prizes and it would be impossible to host such a fishing series as engaging and universally loved by hardcore and amateur anglers alike.
- Old Town Kayaks
- Dakota Lithium Batteries
- Anchor Wizard
- Pacific Yak Angler
- Nootka Marine Adventures
- Visible ID Systems
- Smith Optics
- NRS Fishing
- Cabela’s Canada
- Scotty Fishing Products
- Rig-a-Jig Bait Shop
- Jack Wacker Fishing Gear Co.
- Broken Twig Landing Nets
- Spitfire Fishing Products
- Hooked Up Fishing Gear
- Treeline Outdoors
- Get n Hooked Lures
- Burnt Rock Adventure Co
- Orion Coolers
- Buzz Bomb & Zzinger Lures Inc
- The Fishin’ Hole Canada
- Pit Boss Grills BBQ
- Bending Branches
- Fishing the Wild West TV
- Tightline Anchors
- All Season’s Pig Roast and Catering