Had fun weekend fishing for walleye

Everybody who knows me knows that I love to fish.
I especially enjoy fishing in competitive tournaments. In fact, there’s probably nothing I would rather spend my time doing on weekends during the summer.
Although I usually stay focused on the bass circuit, I try to get in at least one or two walleye tournaments each year. It’s no secret that we have some of the finest walleye fisheries in the world right here in Sunset Country, so it’s no surprise we have some of the best tournaments, as well.
The Shaw Dryden Walleye Masters tournament took place this past weekend on massive Wabigoon Lake. Troy Norman and I partnered up for the tournament, our first time fishing the event, and walked away with a 20th-place finish in the 115-boat field.
Walleye tournaments are a little different than bass ones because in this part of Ontario, there are slot limits on walleyes. On most waters, including Wabigoon, anglers only can keep one walleye over 18 inches per day.
We could bring in five fish per day in this two-day event, so each day two fish could be over 18 inches while the other three had to be under 18 inches.
This changes the strategy a little bit because you want your under fish to be as close as possible to 18 inches and, obviously, you want your over-fish to be as big as possible.
With bass tournaments, we want to bring in the five biggest ones that we can.
Troy and I caught a lot of fish during the tournament, probably about 40-50 per day, but we just couldn’t get connected with a big fish. We had five-fish limits that weighed 9.16 pounds and 11.00 pounds for a two-day total of 20.16.
We had two days to practice before the tournament and found several areas that were holding good numbers of fish.
If you’ve ever been on Wabigoon, you know it’s different than most lakes in the region because it has really dark water. Visibility is less than one foot, so that makes things a little bit different.
We found lures that kicked out some noise and vibration were best for getting the attention of the fish. We also caught fish in very shallow water.
We hooked up with most of our walleyes over the weekend trolling Northland spinner rigs with a crawler harness. We tipped them with a nightcrawler.
Troy caught our biggest fish—a chunky 22-incher—on a rattling crankbait.
We also caught a bunch of walleyes pitching jigs tipped with both plastic and live bait into shallow water. We never caught a walleye in water deeper than eight feet.
The Dryden team of Jason Rostek and Mike Shepard won the $18,000 first-place prize with a two-day total of 34.04 pounds. This included a Day 2 catch that came in at 20.08 pounds, which was anchored by two 29-inch giants.
Rostek and Shepard led the tournament after Day 1 with 13.96 pounds. Shepard mentioned to me that they caught both of their big fish early both days, so that took the pressure off big time.
Teams from Dryden took second and third place, as well.
There was some representation from some of the bass guys in the top ten. Blair and Jeff Dingwall, for instance, finished ninth while Scott Dingwall and Jay Samsal were 10th.
We had a great time fishing this tournament and most definitely will be back next year. Wabigoon is a great body of water to hold a tournament on because it’s so big and there are fish everywhere.
With any of the big tournaments in the region, everybody must put their time in for a year or two before they become competitive. We felt like we learned a lot so hopefully that will help us out next year.
For any anglers who are looking to fish a walleye tournament, this is a good one!

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