Local fishermen come up big in Governor’s Cup tournament

66 two-man teams fish 19th annual eventCOMPILED BY CHRIS COWBROUGHS-E Sports EditorLocal fishermen more than held their own in the 19th annual Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament on Lake Roosevelt June 23-24. This year, 66 two-person teams headed out early each morning in search of walleye.Four of the top five teams this year were from Kettle Falls.“That has never happened before,” pointed out Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club President, Jim Meskan. This year, over 700 fish were caught by those 66 two-person teams.The popular stop on the Northwest walleye circuit is annually hosted by the Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club.The tournament winners this year were local residents, Greg and Kathy Goodnight. They will be the 2013 Governor’s Cup team that will represent the state of Washington.Despite the rainstorms that plagued the areas north and south of tournament headquarters at Happy Dell Park in Kettle Falls, tournament anglers were anxious to test their skills on Lake Roosevelt walleye. At 6 a.m. each day, teams were sent out in search of big walleye and the largest fish of the day or the heaviest stringer of six fish (without accruing penalties for dead fish).‘Big Fish’In the Saturday Big Fish category, the team of Stan Romig and Jerrad Romig came in with a walleye that weighed in at 6.06 pounds. Heavy Stringer honors went to the Goodnight’s (18.10 pounds). Second were the Romig’s (17.86 pounds). Third went to local residents Gerald Marco and Rod Sly (14.06 pounds). Sunday’s Big Fish honors went to veteran Kettle Falls fishermen Don Ghramm and Craig Bircher (5.88 pounds). Second place Big Fish honors on Sunday went to Marco/Sly and Charlton/Race.Ghramm and Bircher also brought in the Heavy Stringer of the day (17.24 pounds). Second went to Ron Charlton and Jeb Race (15.62 pounds). In third place was the team of Dave Harrell and Sam Grant (14.62 pounds). Uncle Walt’s Tackle and HewesCraft provided the Cool Under Pressure Award to the team that advanced the highest number of places from Saturday to Sunday. Charlton and Race won that award for advancing 12 places. Lowrance provided a fishfinder for the Lucky Dog Award. A couple of true sportsmen in the tournament field, Monroe firefighters Rod Hewitt and Jeff Dickinson, helped the team of Marco/Sly (outboard problems) get their bag of walleye turned in by check-in time, a move that helped that team to third place. This year, there were five Governor’s Cup teams representing the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and New York. The Oregon team of Stan and Jerrad Romig will have their nameplate added to the bronze walleye sculpture that resides at the Kettle Falls Chamber of Commerce offices.New sponsorsTournament directors Ken Martin and Clyde Reneman, along with walleye club volunteers, have spent the past six months preparing for one of the area’s largest annual events.This year, according to Meskan, HewesCraft and Clark’s Powersports & Marine came on board as additional tournament sponsors. “The partnership has been well received,” Meskan said. “Gary Clark and Dave Hewes have been very supportive of the walleye club and have recognized the economic impact the Governor’s Cup brings to our local economies.”Tripp Distributing of Colville and Cabelas are also tournament sponsorsAs part of the tournament, the walleye club holds a Rifle Raffle, a Cabelas Gift Card Raffle and a Dollar Raffle. The winners of the Rifle Raffle were Spike LaBrode (Minnesota) for the Henry’s .17HMR; J.R. Hunnicutt (Colville) for the Ruger 10/22, and Vic Pierre (Kettle Falls) for the Savage .223.The Cabelas gift card winners were Dan DePonte (Nevada) for $500; Alan Walker (Spokane Walleye Club) for $300 and Yogi Smith (Omak) for the $200 gift card.“The monies generated from these raffle ticket sales support the club’s activities and donations to Horizons, Kettle Falls Food Bank, Kettle Falls Youth Center, Senior Citizens’ Center, the city of Kettle Falls, Operation Lifejacket, Save the Kettle Falls Pool and others,” Meskan added.Two local fishermen with longtime ties to the walleye club and the waters of Lake Roosevelt—Greg Goodnight and Don Ghramm—were understandably pleased with their tournament finishes and with the walleye fishery in Lake Roosevelt.“We have been very fortunate,” Goodnight said of he and his wife’s success in the Governor’s Cup Tournament. The pair, who have only missed one Governor’s Cup, annually take a week off before the tournament to pre-fish. Goodnight, the superintendent of schools in the Kettle Falls School District, said he and his wife actually felt more confident last year after their pre-fish than they did going into the 2012 tournament.“But it worked out pretty well,” Goodnight said with a smile.Shallow water—trolling the shorelineHe said he and his wife catch most of their fish in about seven-feet (or less) of water—trolling the shoreline.The Goodnight’s like to use crankbait that imitates rainbow trout.“We have been fishing that way since about the third year (fishing the tournament),” Goodnight said. “There have been years when it hasn’t worked that well…this year it did.”They caught both of their big fish within a half-mile of the Kettle Falls Marina.“That was really nice on our gas bill,” he added.So, what do the Goodnight’s plan to do with their tournament winnings?“In the past, we were just as likely to spend the money on a depth finder as a couch,” Goodnight quipped. “This year, the pragmatic choice is flooring.”Ghramm echoed Goodnight’s comments about crank baits and their popularity with Governor’s Cup competitors.“This year, the tournament was dominated by crank baits,” he said. “But that’s a year by year thing…it’s not just one bait. But crank baits ruled the roost this year. Some trout were let go (net pens) a few weeks ago.“It’s just a matter of what the walleye are feeding on at the time.”Ghramm says he loves the challenge of fishing for walleye.“They are a pretty diverse fish,” he says. “They change it up a lot…they could be in five-feet of water one day and 25 feet the next. Walleye are tough to figure out…they change a lot.“It’s almost like you are hunting for them instead of fishing for them.”Ghramm praised the Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club for their work in making the Governor’s Cup one of the premiere stops on the walleye circuit.They (the club) have done a great job of making this a community event.’“They have done a great job of getting added money from sponsors,” Ghramm pointed out. “And they have done a great job of really making this a community event. It’s a very popular tournament and the club makes it special…it’s really a week-long event and one that is very well run and organized.”Ghramm, a regular around the tournament circuit for years, enjoys the fishing—and the camaraderie. “Tournaments like this draw fishermen from all over,” Ghramm said. “There are a lot of good guys that fish these tournaments. It’s fun to see them…I have met a lot of people and made a lot of friends fishing these tournaments.”Ghramm quipped that fishing is also a great way “for a guy with a gut and bad knees to stay competitive.”The tournament walleye fishermen will be back at the Kettle Falls Marina and Lake Roosevelt July 28-29 for the Spokane Walleye Club sponsored state tournament. Meskan said the Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club would like to thank its tournament sponsors, businesses that support the club’s advertising booklet, the board of Stevens County Commissioners, Kettle Falls Chamber of Commerce, George and Linda Allen and Chuck DeBruin of the Spokane Walleye Club, TJ’s Tavern, Fairchild Air Force Base volunteers, the National Park Service, the tournament anglers, businesses and individuals who donated raffle items and the tournament committee and volunteers.