Manitoba fishing enthusiasts spent about eight hours on the water Sept. 1 trying to win the 2019 Northern Manitoba Walleye Championship, held at Paint Lake for the third year in a row.
After placing 27th in 2018, the team of Daryl and Erin Murphy claimed top spot in this year’s tournament, catching six fish weighing a total of 14.25 pounds.
The pair won a $10,000 prize package including a 14-foot Alumacraft boat, a 9.9 horsepower Evinrude outboard motor and a Karavan trailer.
The duo of Thomas Voth and Darrin Michnik came second with six fish weighing 13.85 pounds combined.
Last year’s champions Wayne Skwarchuk and Russell Boxell settled for 17th place with a cumulative catch of 11.09 pounds.
Paint Lake Lodge owners Barry and Kathy Ruiter cracked the top 10 with a ninth-place total of 12.33 pounds. They finished third last year.
Overall, 40 teams of two registered for this year’s live release tournament, coming from Manitoba communities including The Pas, Gillam, Cranberry Portage and Winkler, as well as Delburne, Alberta and Redvers, Saskatchewan, for a shot at winning $25,000 in cash and prizes.
However, local anglers still dominated this year’s competition, with eight of the top 10 team captains living in Thompson.
Tournament co-director Eric Labaupa told the Nickel Belt News that he and Kickerfish colleague Dino D’andreamatteo started the Northern Manitoba Walleye Championship back in 2017 to supply a growing demand for this kind of event.
“It’s very popular down south and in the rest of central Canada, but there were no tournaments up north,” he said Sept. 3. “So we thought we’d bring that experience to the northern region. Now we’re in our third year and it’s bigger and better.”
Part of the reason this event has been able to grow, Labaupa says, is support from local businesses like Bob’s Towing, Rock Country GM, Leo’s Home & Office Decorating, Nickel City Motors and Paint Lake Lodge.
Labaupa said they already have eight teams registered for next year’s competition and are also looking to organize a kids’ fishing derby at the same time.
For a full rundown of the 2019 Northern Manitoba Walleye Championship rankings, go to the “Presented by KF” tab of Kickerfish’s website.