Well another Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic is in the books and once again it was very memorable. Of the 31 anglers able to make it out and hit the water, 15 were new to tournament with a great many of those new to kayak fishing as well. We fished Gull Lake in Central Alberta for Northern Pike (over 63cm), Burbot, Whitefish and Perch. This was a new body of water for many anglers and potentially a huge challenge for many, due to the size of the lake and no past fishing knowledge of it. As usual there were a few anglers that spent days pre-fishing the lake and trying to unlock its secrets. This year I am happy to report that no one, as far as they will admit, lost any gear overboard or flipped their kayaks!
I would like to say a huge thank you to all of our sponsors for making our prize table so amazing. Without all of your wonderful and generous donations we would not be able to draw so many anglers and would not be able to promote the sport of kayak fishing and sustainable fishing practices.
Friday night started off with a BBQ social put on once again by Glenmore Sailboats. Returning and new anglers got a chance to meet and enjoy a meal while discussing everything kayak fishing related. Once we had a chance to have a meal and meet our fellow anglers, we headed inside the hall for our Captain’s meeting. After we were done welcoming everyone and laying out the ground and safety rules we adjourned and everyone was free to kill the rest of their evening however they wanted. It seemed like a lot of anglers spent a great deal of time looking over the prize table at the amazing packages we were able to put together and many an angler could be overheard talking about what they were going to do when they won the door prize from Wilderness Systems, a 2014 Ride 115X. Too bad there were 31 anglers planning out their future fishing trips in it, when only one would come to fruition.
As the night rolled on, anglers spent time getting their gear organized and lying, I mean talking, to each other about their biggest catches and the one that got away.
We rented the Lincoln Hall for this year’s tournament partly because of its location, but also for the fact that we would be able to camp there overnight as well. We had 3 trailers, 6 tents and a few anglers sleeping in their vehicles overnight in order to be ready for the 6 am start. We had a bit of rain come down and the wind started to pick up around 3am.
By 5 am I was up and getting organized to head out to the check in point to send my merry little anglers off into the cool, wet morning fishing grounds. Let me tell you that some anglers were up and getting dressed in their paddling wear and loading gear, while some continued to sleep happily in their warm beds. There was one white Ford truck that showed no sign of life, so naturally I took it upon myself to ensure that Jordan M. was up and didn’t miss the fishing tourney. I am not sure how many fishermen it takes to constitute a stampede, but I tried. You are welcome Jordan.
Once everyone, well almost everyone, was up and loaded, the race to the launch was on. When we got to the boat launch, the visibility was limited due to rain. That didn’t put a damper on spirits. Anglers rigged up their boats and by 6:05 am they were making a mad dash for areas they thought were going to produce their winning fish. The wind was blowing quite strong but many anglers powered through it heading north to a few locations they had determined were going to produce monster fish and huge numbers. Shortly before 7, I received a text from a couple of the anglers who were at check in at 6. This is the text I received. “So we’re having breakfast lol. We saw you, we’re checked in right? We’ll come launch at your spot in ½ hour”. This sounded like a great plan to me!
By 8 am the sky had cleared up quite a bit and whitecaps could be seen out in the middle of the lake. The wind was definitely putting these anglers perseverance to the test today. It was around this time that a few of the anglers decided it was time to hit the water. I must say, that would have been my choice as well.
By this time I was already starting to get reports of a few big fish lost and the odd one landed. Although the rain did stop for us, the wind never let up and many anglers found themselves drifting back towards the launch even while anchored. This played into a few of the angler’s hands quite well as they took to bottom bouncing and trying their luck with Pickerel Rigs. While the main part of the lake was quite choppy and blowing hard, there were a few areas that were somewhat sheltered and seemed to be producing some fish.
By lunch time I had seen pictures of Pike over 31” and had seen a few anglers consistently pulling in fish. One thing that was getting to a few anglers was the number of large walleye that were being caught. Too bad they were not a species that was part of the tournament.
After lunch one angler came into shore to see his family and brought his camera over to me. He had a fish that spilled over his 36” measuring board. He had to borrow another measuring board to put under it to try to get a measurement and we were able to see it was 38”+ in the picture. We called it a 38” fish, which was his personal best, and after a short visit with his family, he headed back out to try for a few more. As the time ticked on and the 4 pm deadline loomed closer, anglers started to concede defeat and head off the water. Much to their surprise they realized they were not alone and didn’t feel quite so bad.
By the time the last angler checked in at 4 pm, there were 13 anglers with legal sized fish to enter and 18 anglers that either caught pike that were under 63cm or didn’t land a fish at all. We loaded up all the kayaks and gear and made the trek back to the Lincoln Hall for the Awards Ceremony and Door Prize Draw.
Here is a list of the 13 anglers with total inches of fish, number of fish and prize package they picked out. I might mention too that of the 13, 7 were new to the tournament and at least 4 of those were new this year to kayak fishing.
1) Joel Gaddi – Calgary, AB – 75 ½” – 3 Pike – Kokatat Paddling Package consisting of a Bahia Tour PFD, Hydrus 3L Paddling Pants and a Tropos Otter Jacket
2) Connie Newsham – Bentley,AB – 58½” – 2 Pike – Pentax WG3 camera
3) Tyler Murray – Edmonton, AB – 57” – 2 Pike – $250 gift certificate from Walleye Master Bait and Tackle
4) Jim Kind – Red Deer, AB – 54 ¼” – 2 Pike – Gamin VIRB HD Sports Camera
5) Dave Newman – Edmonton, AB – 38” – 1 Pike – Thule Chasm bag from Aquabatics Calgary
6) John Kessler – Calgary, AB – 32 ½” – 1 Pike – Jackfish Lures Tacklebag and Lures
7) Alan High – Edmonton, AB – 27 ½” – 1 Pike – Werner Camano Paddle package
8) Dan Blackburn – Morinville, AB – 27” – 1 Pike – Cortland Flyrod and Okuma Reel from the Fishin Hole, Boomerang Clippers
9) Jordan Morgenstern – Edmonton, AB – 26 ½” – 1 Pike – Redington 4wt Fly rod, Buff and Buff Gloves
10) Amber Serbin– Edmonton, AB – 26” – 1 Pike – Humminbird PiranhaMax 165
11) Christy Yaseyko – Edmonton, AB – 25 ¾” – 3 Perch – Pelican GoPro case from Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Buff
12) Mike Bownes – Red Deer, AB – 9 ¼” – 1 Perch – Superfly Fly Rod and Werner Hawg Trough
Jordan Forsythe – Edmonton, AB – 9 ¼” – 1 Perch – Cooler from Arnett & Burgess Oilfield Construction, Lures from Pelican Lures and Pelican case from Valhalla Pure Outfitters
14) Next was the 18 way tie. The lake and fish defeated some anglers who were unable to land a single fish and other who were unable to land a pike at or over the legal size.
o Jordan Pfeil – Fort Saskatchewan, AB – Rapala Rod and Reel
o Catherine Lewis – Calgary, AB – Redington 5wt Outfit and Silver Tip Fly Company flies
o Gary Hetze – Ponoka, AB – Thule Chasm bag from Aquabatics Calgary
o Megan Seymour – Darwell, AB – Buff, Hobie Polarized Sunglasses and hat, Boomerang clippers
o Charles Hazen – Bentley, AB – Aquabound Manta Ray Hybrid Paddle
o Darryl Heidt – Crystal Springs, AB – Quantum rod and reel from The Fishin Hole, Pelican case from Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Shore Lunch package
o Eric Nelson – Calgary, AB – Glenbow Flyfishing Plaque and Dry Bag from Valhalla Pure Outfitters
o Jay Woodbeck – Sherwood Park, AB – Cooler from Arnett & Burgess Oilfield Construction, Lures from Pelican Lures and Pelican case from Valhalla Pure Outfitters
o Eddie Woodbeck – Edmonton, AB – Len Thompson Lure package, Werner Hat and Hawg Trough
o Tim Norman – Edmonton, AB – Scotty Prize Pack
o Doug Hamm – Calgary, AB – Tie Boss Straps
o Carl Ball – Fairview, AB – Gnugen Lure Prize Pack
o Ryan Palk – Edmonton, AB – Scotty Prize Pack
o Allan Zilkowsky – Parksville, BC – YakAttack Prize Pack
o David Kessler – Airdrie, AB – Scotty Prize Pack
o Curtis Jensen – Legal, AB – Scotty Prize Pack
o Cody Osbourne – Edmonton, AB – Dry bag from Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Get Reeled Prize Pack, Scotty Fishing Products
o Jason Labonte – Edmonton, AB – Dry bag from Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Get Reeled Prize Pack, Scotty Fishing Products
On top of this, all anglers will be receiving a digital subscription to Kayak Angler Magazine, our Official Media Sponsor!
The Wilderness Systems Ride 115X door prize was up next and tournament newcomer Jordan Forsythe’s number was drawn, much to the chagrin of the other 30 anglers. This might be one of those situations where no good deed goes unpunished because, Jordan was the angler that gave his measuring board to Dave Newman to measure his 38” pike. Congrats once again Jordan and I can’t wait to see pictures of you out fishing in your new kayak.
The event wrapped up and old friends and new friends said their goodbyes after one last photo of all the anglers.
Here is to another successful tournament and I hope to see you all again next year. We are going to work towards making this tournament even bigger and better next year. Keep tuned to our Facebook page Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic for all things tournament related over the next year!!