Friday, October 23, 1998Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking comment on a request from the Townsend Area Chamber of Commerce regarding a proposed walleye tournament on Canyon Ferry Reservoir in July of 1999. The proposed tournament would be catch-and-release format, may include up to 125 two-person teams and would offer between $10,000 and $15,000 in cash and prizes for tournament winners.
Earlier this year, the Townsend Chamber made a similar request for 1998, which was denied by FWP. An appeal to the FWP Commission was also denied. That decision was based on the fact that a walleye tournament was not compatible with the 1993 management plan for the reservoir, which did not recognize walleye as an established sport fish.
Larry Peterman, Fisheries Division administrator for FWP, said the timing of the request creates a unique issue for FWP. According to Peterman, FWP is in the process of developing a management plan for Canyon Ferry in conjunction with Holter and Hauser reservoirs. A draft plan is scheduled for release in June of 1999, with a final plan scheduled to be out in the fall of 1999. "Because FWP is in the middle of the public planning process, we were concerned that changes not be considered as precedent setting, such as an indication on future decisions for tournaments," Peterman said. As a part of the planning effort, guidelines and regulations for fishing tournaments will be evaluated and included in the plan.
Peterman said FWP considered denying this request for the same reasons for which the previous request was denied, but that the agency recognizes that conditions have changed. "We've noticed a significant increase in the number of walleye in the reservoir and a working group established by FWP and facilitated by the Montana Consensus Council recently recommended to FWP that the reservoir be managed for multiple species."
The request can be approved as submitted, denied or modified. FWP is seeking comment on any of those options.
Comments will be accepted through November 15, 1998, and should be addressed to: FWP Fisheries Division, Attn: Canyon Ferry Walleye Tournament, PO Box 200701, Helena MT 56920-0701.