TOWNSEND – While there are some big summer fishing tournaments in Montana, one walleye competition you shouldn’t miss is on Canyon Ferry Lake from June 28-29.

In its 16th year, The Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival can yield fish as large as 18 pounds.

“It’s by far the biggest [walleye] tournament in Montana,” said Lance Thomas, a Big Sky resident, comparing it to the three other walleye fishing competitions in the state. Lance and his twin brother Terry have been competing in the tournament since 2009.

A $10,000 first place prize awaits the winner and if an angler catches a state-record walleye – over 17.75 pounds – he or she wins a $50,000 Lund fishing boat. The twins thought they beat the record last year, Lance said, when Terry hauled in a 15.08-pound walleye in the tourney.

Canyon Ferry Lake, located on the Missouri River just north of Townsend, is the third largest lake in Montana and covers 76 miles of shoreline. The Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival is capped at 150 two-man teams, and is currently sold out, but the Thomas brothers say the tournament is worth watching. And it’s all about the walleye.

“They’re kind of a hard fish to catch,” Lance said. “It’s a challenge, but they’re really, really good to eat.” – J.T.O.