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The 2021 Western Canada Kayak Fishing Trail – Eastslope Classic kayak fishing tournament was a big success! I can’t thank everyone enough that helped to organize such a great event and a thank you to everyone that attended! It’s for the community that we host these events every year and it means a great deal when everyone turns up, especially during a global pandemic.
For those that may not know, the Eastslope Classic is the biggest tournament of the WCKFT Trail series. This year, Eastslope was held over August long weekend at Gleniffer Lake and Dickson Trout Pond. Held over two days, the tournament includes: dry camping accommodations, beer gardens, a pig roast as well as prizes for all registered anglers. Old Town Canoes even sponsored the event by donating a very nice Discovery Solo 119 in Ember.
Fishing turned out to be challenging. Day one had a stiff breeze blowing out of the west all day creating rough conditions on the water. Not only was the wind kicking up waves but the numerous wake boats were also kicking up the water. I find wind pretty easy to deal with in my Bigwater PDL 132 and a big reason for it is because all the waves come from the same direction. Add in wakes from boat traffic and the waves can hit you from any direction, its important to maintain your centre of gravity and keep your head within the kayak at all times. Unfortunately, we did have one angler flip over and loose a few pieces of gear. Luckily there were plenty of others around to give him a hand. It makes recovery so much easier when theres others around to help you.
I only had a couple hours to fish on day one so I decided to stick to the smaller trout pond. We’ve had a warm summer, and I was expecting some algae, but the smell coming off the pond was unreal! Thankfully the algae wasn’t too thick, it was the weed growth that was the problem. Every once in a while I’d run into a floating patch of weeds and I would have to clean out my drive. The water temperature was warm as well, during the peak of the day it reached 23°C, which is not a good temperature for trout. Fortunately for them, I didn’t catch a thing. I had one nice rainbow to the boat but before I could get the net in the water he was able to shake my hook free and swam off.
The forecasted high for day two was supposed to be 28°C, a real scorcher. I didn’t think I would be thankful for the forest fire smoke that has been lingering around all summer but today it definitely helped to block out some of the sun. The high only reached 24° and made for a pretty comfortable day on the water, too bad the fishing sucked!
I was back on the water as my watch hit 6 am to see if I could cross trout off my list early. As the sun rose, the trout were also rising. I eagerly threw everything I had in my tackle box but for some reason I couldn’t buy a bite. By 8 am I’d had enough and moved on to the second part of my game plan.
At 8:30 am I launched from the North Dyke Campground on Gleniffer Lake. The water was a very nice 22°C and crystal clear. I set off thinking this was going to be pretty easy, I had done quite a bit of homework and structure didn’t seem hard to find. Again, that was just not the case. While I did find plenty of great structure to fish, nice drop off’s, weed beds, rock piles, etc; I didn’t mark a single fish on my sonar. I measured it out, and I put on at least 12 kms looking for fish, you can believe I was completely out of ideas on where to find them.
As the day came to and end I made my way back to our headquarters, Gwendale Hall, to start tallying up everyone’s scores. An impressive number of competitors managed to catch some fish and top anglers were close to catching every species the lake had to offer! Once scores were finalized and everyone was off the water the best part could begin, prizes!
Giving away a truckload of prizes is a really rewarding experience. It’s especially rewarding when the people you are giving them to are your fishing buddies. The sense of community you feel around the kayak fishing trail is truly unparalleled and I’m happy to be a part of it. Congratulations to all the winners, and a big congrats to our top Youth Angler, Dom! Not only did he earn top honours in the youth category, he also went home with our door prize, a Discovery Solo 119! I know this will be a summer he won’t soon forget!