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Moving to Ontario helped Keith get into walleye tournament fishing

A move to Thunder Bay in 2000 meant a chance for Keith Hryciw to dust off his walleye fishing gear
2019-08-07 Keith Hryciw

Each year I have the chance of meeting new anglers while fishing the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail. 

Although I fished against Keith over the years, it wasn't until this spring at the Mattagami First Nation Spring Walleye tournament that I had the opportunity to talk with him.

In this weeks angler profile, I would like to introduce you to a fierce walleye angler and one of 25 anglers that qualified for the 2019 NOWT Championship, Keith Hryciw. 

Q: Where were you born?

KH: Winnipeg, Man.

Q: Who played a role in getting you started in fishing?

KH: Some of my first fishing trips were with my family and close friends and relatives. My dad introduced me to fishing and the outdoors.

Q: As a youth, where did you fish and for what?

KH: I did not have the opportunity to fish a lot when I was younger as I grew up in a rural farming community. Most of my youth was spent pursuing deer and waterfowl. There were a few local lakes nearby while growing up but it was mostly pike water.

Q: At what age did you start fishing?

KH: My first fishing trips were at a young age, but I started to really get into angling at a later age. I moved to northern Manitoba to attend college to become a conservation officer. I had a passion for fishing but moving to northern Manitoba opened my eyes to real fishing.

Q: How did you get into walleye tournament fishing and why?

KH: I moved to Thunder Bay in 2000 from Prince George, BC. I dusted off my walleye gear and began learning the water around northern Ontario (it is endless).  My wife, Darolyn, grew up in northern Manitoba, so the Thunder Bay was like home to her. We started fishing every opportunity we had and soon learned about walleye tournaments. Some of my friends fished tournaments and I thought it sounded interesting and enter my first tournament in Geraldton with a friend. We managed to finish 5th and I got the bug.

Q: What was your most memorable fishing experience and why?

KH: My most memorable fishing experience was winning my first NOWT tournament in Geraldton 2012 with my wife. We had been close many times but finally made the second day count and pulled off the win. We were leading day one and were told no one in the tournament history to that point had been leading day one and went on to win the tournament. So, at 11 the next morning when we didn’t have a fish in our live well we thought we were done. We went into the middle of the lake and had a discussion on what to do and made a decision to change our presentations and went to work one fish at a time. We only caught 7 fish that afternoon but when we netted a 20-incher at about 2:30 .I turned to Darolyn and said that is it “We Won!!"

Q: List any anglers that helped you learn more about fishing over the years.

KH: That is a very difficult question to answer as I have learned so much from watching and talking with lots of the great anglers in the NOWT, tournaments in northwestern Ontario and recreational fishing. My good friend Gary Dickey was a definite influence and we had many fun and productive days together. He introduced me to some of the water around Dryden like the Wabigoon system and Lac Seul. This allowed me to practice on some very good fisheries. Some of the people I have met along the way, Cory, Dan, Antti, Wayne, Daniel, Craig, Dean, Denis, and Jamie have all added to my fishing knowledge in one way or another. Fishing beside Gary Roach many times in Red Lake and some of the conversations with him afterwards have also taught me some lessons. I know I am missing some people as I like to talk fishing and there is always something to take home from each conversation whether it is about a presentation, electronics or boat control.

Q: List sponsors and tournament finishes.

KH: Geraldton: 1st in 2012; 2nd in 2017 and 2015; 3rd; 4th; two 5ths; 6th; 7th; 8th; 9th

Fall Mattagami: 2018 - 7th; and a few top 15 finishes in Dryden and Red Lake

Thunder Bay AYA: 1st in 2009

I do not have any sponsors.

Q: Biggest fishing supporters over the years (example: wife, family and friend(s)).

KH: My wife and kids (Kallie and Kaden), are my biggest supporters and I could not do this without them. I wish I could fish more tournaments with my wife but she has been willing stay back and keep things running at home. 

Q: What are some of your favorite fish you like to fish for and why? 

KH: Walleye is my obvious passion. I really enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out where they will be and how to entice them take a bait. They live in a variety of environments and living on Lake Superior it allows me to chase them from deep clear water to murky shallow water. The combinations are endless and I really enjoy the challenge. Just when you think you have something figured out they throw you a curve ball and show up in a spot that you would never have guessed.  The education continues! I also like to chase salmon around on the big lake when I find the time.

Q: What is your favorite fishing technique(s) for walleyes?

KH: I like the different ways bait can be presented with bottom bouncers. But, I have learned you need to be prepared with many different presentations especially in a tournament.  

Q: Why do you fish walleye tournaments?

KH: There are two parts to this answer. Me and Darolyn have met many people along the way and have become good friends with many. Attending a tournament is a great time to catch up with other anglers and we enjoy going back each year. The excitement of the competition is the other draw for us. It is difficult to explain to others all the preparation that goes into tournament fishing and the pressure on the water, but we enjoy the challenge and the lessons learned along the way. 

Q: Why did you agree to have your bio done?

KH: It was a chance to reflect on my fishing over the past 15 or so years. I feel very thankful to all the volunteers that make the tournaments possible as without them we would not be doing this.

Q: Any tips you would give to a new walleye angler looking at fishing the NOWT?

KH: My kids will appreciate this comment, practice, practice, practice. Read/watch as much material as you can then get out and practice until you find what work best for you. Tournaments are a great way to challenge yourself and you will learn by being around all the anglers. There have been some great advances in electronics and equipment but you will need to assemble all this information and technology and put it to together on the water. Everyone makes mistakes be prepared to learn from them and remember the competition is intense at times but memories and friends will be made along the way. So enjoy your time on and off the water.

Q: What would be some of your greatest accomplishments over the years of fishing?

KH: There have been many great experiences over the years with my family, exploring Lake Superior, fishing/camping trips and exploring the waters of NW Ontario. But being able to compete in the NOWT championship is pretty high on the list. I was not sure I would be able to qualify but with encouragement from fellow anglers and friends I decided to fish the third qualifying tournament.  Thanks for the invite Dean.

I would like to thank Keith for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions and share a little about himself as an angler with us.