Ed. Note: See the report from day 2 here.
The weather may not have been great for the start of this two day tournament, however everything else could not have gone better. The first flight of 27 boats left the Kettle Falls marina launching ramp on Lake Roosevelt at 0600 hours on Saturday morning with the second flight leaving five minutes later in cloudy, overcast conditions with rain on the horizon. That however did nothing to dampen spirits.
A total of 54 boats entered this year, each with a two-person team. As you might expect, most of the teams were from Eastern Washington, however one person I spoke with had come all the way from Georgia, with a couple more from Oregon, Canada, Idaho and one from Arizona.
This tournament is a bit unique in that it is 100% catch, weigh and release. Each team is limited to six fish per day and only two may be longer than 22 inches. When you report to the weigh station all the fish must be in good condition, and all must swim away when released or you will be disqualified. To insure that all the fish are in good condition when they are released, immediately (and I do mean immediately) after weigh-in, they are taken to a holding pen tank on a small float that is aerated with oxygen where they are monitored before they are released by carefully lowering them in a net back in the lake where they are allowed to swim out. All in all the process seems to do a very good job of reviving the fish as I never saw a dead one drift by. As the boats came to weigh station it quickly became apparent that everyone was catching fish with most teams coming in with a six fish limit, an most fish in the 2-3 pound range.
The only anomaly to this pattern was the team of Phil Adams and Jerry Lawrence that came back to weigh station at around 1100 hours with a 6.05 pound monster, and as if that wasn’t enough they returned again just after 1300 hours with a 6.15 near twin. That held up for the rest of the day and when all of their fish had been weighed they had a grand total of 18.82 pounds of walleye. The next 12 teams were grouped around six pounds behind.
The final day is tomorrow and one more six+ pounder could easily upset the applecart.
As an aside, if you’re thinking about trailering the boat somewhere other than salt water this year, Lake Roosevelt is absolutely gorgeous, plus the lake easily gets warm enough to swim in by about mid-summer. The facilities are excellent, the park rangers running the launching ramps are friendly, helpful and seemed genuinely pleased to have everyone there. In the town of Kettle Falls, everyone also seemed happy to help you find whatever you were looking for and make this a great event. More tomorrow.