‘Walleye Week’ in Sunset Country

Attention was focused on Wabigoon Lake near Dryden last week as some of the best walleye anglers in the world took part in the Professional Walleye Trail’s Can-Am Challenge.
This tournament had a unique format, which put 25 Canadian anglers against 25 of the best from the United States. Anglers fished the three-day event for themselves, being matched with a different co-angler each day.
There also was a separate Can-Am Challenge that took place, where each countries’ combined weight was added up—with the winning team taking home bragging rights and $12,500.
Team Canada was chosen by Dryden resident and captain, John Butts. “Buttsy” had a tough job, only being able to pick 25 anglers from all across Canada. His team consisted of some local talent, as well as accomplished anglers from all over the country.
He obviously did a fine job picking his team as Canadians took home four of the top five spots in the event. Team Canada also beat Team USA by an 11-pound margin, which all the anglers were extremely proud of.
These guys, after all, are the best in the world.
The other unique aspect of this event was that it was the PWT’s first-ever “artificial only” tournament. Anglers were not allowed to use any form of live bait, which added quite a twist.
The tournament winner, Dan Dolinski from Alberta, not only spanked everybody, he smashed all tournament results ever recorded at Wabigoon by fishing with Northland Whistler Jigs tipped with a variety of plastic tails to catch his big fish and the $50,000 first prize.
Scott Dingwall from Dryden took fourth place and was the top local angler. He won $7,500 for his efforts.
Bass experts and partners, Wayne Wagner and Alex Keszler, took second- and fifth-place, respectively, proving they can catch big walleyes, as well.
I fished in this event and had a ball. It was the first walleye tournament I’ve fished in a few years and ended up in 25th place. I caught plenty of walleyes each day on Wabigoon; I just could not connect with any big fish over the three-day event.
I believe “artificial only” events are the future of walleye fishing—and it was fun to be a part of this tournament.
Then on Saturday, all eyes of the walleye world switched over to Lake of the Woods for the Lund Angler-Young-Angler Championship taking place in Kenora. The winners of 18 regional events from all over North America qualified for this one-day tournament.
Each team, consisting of an adult and two young anglers under age 16, were fishing for a trip to Disney World in Florida as well as a trip to a fly-in fishing lodge in Northern Ontario.
Lake of the Woods kicked out some monster walleyes Saturday as the team from Grand Rapids, Mn. took top honours with nearly a 22-pound catch for their three biggest walleyes.
A number of six- to nine-pound fish were weighed in, which was awesome to see. Everybody had a great time!

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