Golden Walleye Classic cancelled

One of 36 teams in the 2019 Golden Walleye Classic at Shaw’s Point Resort arrives at the weigh station. A volunteer had to inspect their live wells to ensure the walleye were in good health.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Anyone wanting to participate in the 32nd annual Golden Walleye Classic at Shaw’s Point Resort near High Prairie will have to wait for 2021.

Organizers have called off the event planned for the Labour Day weekend, Sept. 5-6 based on historic high water levels on Lesser Slave Lake and health orders from Alberta Health Services (AHS) in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, longtime co-ordinator Ken Sperling says.

“We cancelled the walleye classic tournament, with high water in the marina and COVID restrictions from AHS,” Sperling says when he spoke with South Peace News on July 29.

“We hope and plan to be back next year.”

Registrations were slowly coming in before the event was cancelled, he says.

“We had a few but not many,” Sperling says.

Last year’s event drew 36 teams of two, down from 58 teams in 2018.

The winning team shared top prize of $30,000.

He spoke with AHS in early July about plans for the event, which would have had to be reduced.

“We couldn’t have a supper and we would have to mail the cheques,” says Sperling, who has chaired the organizing committee for about 20 years.

Usually a barbecue supper is held Sunday afternoon before the awards ceremonies where large-sized cheques are presented in front of a crowd.

To lure more anglers in 2020, organizers reduced the entry fee to $1,000 from $2,000 and limited the field to 65 boats.

Competitors travelled from High Prairie, Slave Lake, Peace River, Fairview and other parts of Alberta.

More than $70,000 was awarded in prizes in 2019. Several special prizes will be given, with $350 each for the heaviest fish each day, the youngest angler and the oldest angler.

Each team entered is allowed to catch a maximum four walleye per day and bring them in two at a time to be measured at the weigh-in station.

The Captain and Kids Fishing Tournament scheduled for Sept. 4, has also been cancelled.

A total of 25 children under-16 took part in the catch-and-release event last year when 15 pike were caught.

The 32nd annual Golden Walleye Classic is now scheduled for 2021 on the Labour Day weekend, Sept. 4-5.

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