Bill M. Walton fished his way to first-place showings in the "largest fish and "most weight" division of the Payson Community Christian School Fall Classic trout tournament.
In the annual angling skirmish held Sept. 29 at Willow Springs Lake, Walton weighed in a 14.4 ounce rainbow that was the largest caught during the daylong tournament. His six-limit total weight of 62.1 ounces nipped runner-up Terry Diehl's catch by .5 of an ounce.
While Walton's big fish was a prize catch, it was smaller than the 21.2 ounce fish caught by Pam Bumbalow in 2005. Bumbalow, who entered the tournament only at her granddaughter's request and because it was a charity event, caught the trout with a power bait she had modified to look like a cricket.
In 1996, when the tournament was held at Woods Canyon, a 12-year-old boy fishing from the shore with a bobber, caught a 6-pound rainbow.
Just days before the tournament, the Arizona Game and Fish department had stocked the lake with fish taken from a breeder's pond.
"There was some big fish in the lake," longtime tournament director Tracy Purtee said.
Trailing Walton in the "largest fish" division was runner-up Scott Ambler (13.2 ounces) and Bill W. Walton and Terry Diehl, who tied for third with fish that tipped the scales at 12.8 ounces.
In the most weight division, Darren Harper was third with 60.8 ounces.
In the largest fish bass division, Ty Krehbiel took top honors, with a 26.8-ounce largemouth.
Among the 13-years-and-under anglers, Hunter Yellowhair was first in the largest fish division with a 12.2 ounce rainbow.
Carter Harper (11.5 ounces) was second and Rachel Millet (11.2 ounces) third.
Harper was first in the "most weight" competitionwith 29.2 ounces. Millet (29.1 ounces) took second and Yellowhair (25.6 ounces) third.
All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Payson Community Christian School.