Walleyes Unlimited hooks kids on fishing – Great Falls Tribune

Walleyes Unlimited of Montana holds its annual fundraising and awards banquet at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena.

“We plan on around 800 (people),” said Bob Bahr, current director of the Great Falls, Havre and Kalispell regions. “You know some years we have more, some years we have less.”

Since 1983, Walleyes Unlimited has been the largest sport fishing organization in Montana. The organization’s more than 4,000 members work to promote warm water sport fishing, build and maintain hatcheries, improve fishing accesses and introduce youth to fishing and responsible sportsmanship.

The annual Walleyes Unlimited Banquet honors outstanding individuals and large contributing sponsors, but it’s also a chance for the public to show its support and see what the group is all about, all while enjoying an all-you-can-eat walleye dinner.

Bahr is new to his current position but has been a member for more than 20 years. Locally, Bahr’s chapter provides 1,000-plus rods and reels for the Kids’ Fishing Day at Wadsworth Pond each summer.

Members also support Camp Walleye, a partnership between all three of Bahr’s regions, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and dozens of other sponsors that teaches kids fishing techniques, spinner building and tying flies.

In the past, members have gathered discarded Christmas trees, drilled holes in them and sunk them into the water at Tiber Reservoir to create perch habitats.

K-9 Care Montana, a service dog organization, has also benefited from Walleyes Unlimited donations, as well as Montana Warriors on the Water, a program that takes veterans on a weeklong fishing trip to Fort Peck.

Tickets to the banquet are $35, and attendees get dinner and a shot at a 50/50 raffle, a live art auction, fishing trip giveaways and the famous raffle that includes ten guns and a brand new jet boat.

For Bahr, the best part of being part of Walleyes Unlimited is helping youngsters get into fishing, which includes participation in the Great Falls Fishing Club. Run by Great Falls Public Schools and consisting of mostly middle school students, the club gets kids out on the water once a month during the school year.

“We like to see the kids get started,” said Bahr. “In this day and age they’re in front of the TV or the computer or their cell phones, and we like to see them get out and enjoy the outdoors, so that’s the biggest reason.”

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Traci Rosenbaum at 791-1490. Follow her on Twitter @GFTrib_TRosenba.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Walleyes Unlimited Banquet

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4

Where: Four Seasons Arena

Cost: $35

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