Growing up in eastern Oklahoma, I had no clue about walleye.
Kerr Lake, which is just a few miles east of my hometown of Stigler, is supposed to be good walleye waters.
If it was 30 years ago, I never knew it.
Catfish, bass, crappie – that’s what this hillbilly kid would catch with his Zebco 33. That and a few turtles and cottonmouths.
My first experience with walleye came on Lake Eufaula. Some of my high school buddies and I had pitched tents at Porum Landing with the intent of catching sand bass and crappie.
One evening before a dinner of hot dogs and pork and beans, I walked down to the lake and decided to bass fish around a rocky point with a soft plastic worm.
I was just killing time. I didn’t expect to catch anything when I got a bite. I reeled the fish in and gazed upon something that I had never seen before.
I thumbed it like a bass and it felt like that it had fangs like a rattlesnake. I wanted no part of that fish and cut the line.
I thought someone must have tossed an exotic South American piranha-like beast into Lake Eufaula.
Come to find out it was a walleye. Since then I have wised up some. I know now that walleye is a fish I want to keep.
Walleye eat really well, even rivaling crappie, in my opinion, as the best tasting fish in Oklahoma waters.
Beginning Thursday morning, the annual Walleye Rodeo begins at Canton Lake, about 90 minutes northwest of Oklahoma City.
The four-day event is one of the most popular fishing tournaments in Oklahoma. It usually attracts between 600 and 700 anglers.
Top prize for the biggest walleye caught in the tournament is $1,000. Terry’s Taxidermy in Oklahoma City also is providing a free mount of the fish.
Second biggest walleye pays $750 and third is $500. The angler catching the most pounds of walleye also wins $500.
Canton Lake is high, like every other lake in Oklahoma, but the walleye fishing has been good lately, said Donnie Jinkens, a fishing guide on Canton Lake whose speciality is crappie.
Anglers are catching walleye by trolling and drifting and “just about every which way there is to catch ‘em” in the flats and at the mouth of the North Canadian River, he said.
Anglers can register for the tournament Thursday through Sunday at the weigh station on the Canadian area of the lake.
The fee is $10.
The Walleye Rodeo is a real festival for Canton. There is a parade Saturday morning, a street dance Saturday night, and community fish fry beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
A kid’s fishing derby is scheduled Sunday morning.
The tournament ends at noon Sunday. And if anyone has any fish they want to give away, I know of one hungry journalist who no longer will throw back any walleye.