It was another record-setting weekend for the Broadwater Lions Perch Derby held at Canyon Ferry Reservoir.
A record number of anglers fished for the often elusive perch, which meant big prize money for those who found the right spot. About 500 anglers fished the individual event on Saturday, with 50 of those in the junior category. Then on Sunday for the team event, 93 teams – more than 20 more than the previous record – headed out onto the ice, with two teams tying for first place.
“We really blew it out of the water,” said Mike Colbert with the Lions. “The weather’s been pretty nice the last three years so we’ve gotten a lot of fishermen, but this year was the best ever for us.”
Saturday’s individual events were based on the largest perch.
Top prize in the adult category was Jessica Collinsworth of Anaconda and her 1.45-pound perch, netting a cool $1,400. Her son Hunter Collinsworth took second among the juniors with a 1.14 pounder.
For the junior category, Amara Kueber’s 1.2-pounder earned her $90.
Saturday paid out $2,800 total.
On Sunday, three-angler teams could bring in 10 perch for the biggest combined weight.
Two teams came in at 10.06-pounds and each took home $1,665.
The Townsend-area team of Randy Howard, Kevin Flynn and Chris Hohn, and the Manhattan Team of Robert Steele, Cerece Steele and Cody Pixley were the only teams with fish to average more than a pound each.
Howard’s family has fished the tournament for years, winning a couple of times, and this year his nephew, Hohn, and friend Flynn teamed up for Sunday.
“There was a pretty good crowd, probably four or five teams just to the south of us that weren’t doing that good, but we got lucky and got on top of them,” Howard said. “We didn’t catch a lot but they were good-sized, and that’s what matters now, not how many but how big they are.”
Howard says he plans to invest the winnings back into his fishing gear, with a new cold-weather suit on the top of the list.
Members of the Manhattan team that tied them are also experienced Canyon Ferry anglers.
“I’ve fished it with my wife for quite a few years and I always go there to fish for fun, always with hopes of placing,” Robert Steele said. “It was my first time out there this year and on Thursday and Friday, I’d only caught four fish.”
Despite the pre-derby bite seeming off, the team moved around and found the fish on Sunday. They fished away from most of the other teams and were able to bring in 10 sizeable perch.
Robert Steele had a hunch based on past years and weight that they’d place well.
“I had a pretty good feeling towards the end of the day,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time on that lake, there is some luck involved but it was fun and exciting to be out there with a lot of good fishermen.”
Between the entry fees and separate Calcutta, more than $9,500 was paid out on Sunday.