By Patrick Burr
The Courier 

47th Annual Governor's Cup to Kick off Thursday


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Prize winners from the 2013 events stand proud on stage with their awards.

For one weekend each July, the fishing world stops to cast a line into the deep-teal bliss of Fort Peck Lake. On July 10-11, the Governor's Cup Walleye Tournament will reaffirm its indelible stamp on Hi-Line summer culture, as it has for the past 46 years.

"We used to call it 'Walleye Week'," says Lisa Olk, the executive director of Glasgow's Chamber of Commerce, when asked whether fireworks or fishing takes precedence as the town's preeminent July tradition. "So definitely the Gov' Cup," she beams.

The rest of the United States, it seems, has bought into the scrod-scented stock proffered by the yearly event and all its organized fanfare. Twelve states - from the Kansas prairie to Michigan's Lower Peninsula to the beaches of Florida - are represented in the 2015 field of 400 contestants. Olk estimates 85 percent of participants traveled over 150 miles to enter the fray, caught hook, line, and sinker by the desire to experience the calm thrill of two days angling in Montana's welcoming waters.

Glasgow, for its part, celebrates the influx, however transient the travelers' presence may be.

"The bars, restaurants, motels, and gas stations all fill up during Gov' Cup week," Olk says. "It really benefits local business."

The town's collective billfold concurs. A local economic report concerning the 2014 event found the tournament's 11 Chamber-sponsored events to have injected $698,492 into the Glasgow community. That the maximum number of teams have registered for this year's edition - 200 pairs, up from 141 last year, and the first time the field has been filled since 2002 - should serve only to buoy the expected boon.

Another payoff of the full entry list - the payoff itself. Each team must pay a $300 fee to participate, all of which goes into the event's purse. Twenty percent of the teams receive performance-based awards; last year over $100,000 of prize money was meted out to the weekend's top anglers, a list of each day's best finishers, based on weight, and for the heaviest walleye.

This not including Thursday and Friday night's Calcutta, which drummed up $54,000 of its own.

Governor's Cup festivities begin Thursday with a "Guys & Gals" tournament ($25 entry fee), followed by registration and rules meetings; the Calcutta starts at 6 p.m. in Kiwanis Park. Friday, the opening ceremony commences in Fort Peck Marina at 6:45 a.m. After the competition, a fish fry, open to the public, will be held in Kiwanis Park. Following the fry, the Calcutta will award Friday's day money and big fish prizes. On Saturday, a Youth Fishing Tournament takes place at Kiwanis Park starting at 7:45 a.m. Under-14s are welcome and encouraged to enter.

At 3 p.m., weigh-ins begin and at 5 p.m., final scores are posted.

The rules committee adheres to a wind policy - if speeds reach 25 miles per hour and maintain through nine o'clock, the day's fishing will be postponed and the tournament pushed back to Sunday. By Olk's count, such a delay has occurred three times in her 20 years of involvement.

No fish may be carried onto a competitor's boat; all crafts will be inspected each day, prior to raising anchor, by Army National Guardsmen or retired National Guardsmen.

Olk emphasizes the event has "never had an issue with cheating, to [the organizers'] knowledge" (though one team was disqualified 15 years ago for going on shore). To ensure an indubitable universal adherence, she notes, 24 patrol boats, each with three to six watchmen on board, will be patrolling the water.

Two hundred volunteers, on top of the regular 15-20 year-round staff, are dispatched by the Chamber in order to maintain the Cup's high standard of seamless operation. Come Friday at dawn, when the boats push off from Fort Peck Marina, all will be well, for all will be ready - for all has been ready, made so through rote preparation. The spectators free from fretting over the minutiae of disorganization, will be able to gaze upon the 200-plus vessels revving off into open water against the backdrop of a peaceful, easterly light and a placid state of mind.

"If you haven't seen it," says Olk, referring to the cast-off ceremony, "it's a sight to behold."


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