Facing some tough, windy conditions at the Dryden Walleye Masters championship last weekend, all five Fort Frances pairings finished out of the running.
The top local duo was Rick Socholotuk and Jordan Zen, who finished with a two-day total of 10.04 pounds.
After reeling in 5.84 pounds the first day, the pair slipped a bit Sunday, leaving them 71st overall in the 144-team tournament.
Dale Hayward (Cochenour) and Rick Loeb (Winnipeg) teamed up to win the tournament—and the $10,000 first-place prize—with a total weight of 22.58 pounds.
That was just 1.1 pounds better than Tony Dudley (Boveley, Mn.) and Mike Lafleur (Dryden), who were second with 21.48 pounds to earn $4,000.
Finishing third with 20.36 pounds was the all-Dryden duo of Russ Pearson and Pat Leatherdale, who earned $3,000.
Socholotuk said the fish, although they were biting early both days, were tough to catch on the rough water.
“The weather wasn’t good. It was cold and blowing, which made it a tough bite,” he noted, though adding they had their five-fish limit by the first hour on the first day.
But while the walleye were biting early on, none of their fish were very big—and then they had trouble hooking the fish in murky waters.
“We could find the fish but we couldn’t get the fish to bite—that was a different story,” said Socholotuk, adding they tried an assortment of lures.
“The locals had the advantage because that lake bites differently than most due to the clay suspension, which allowed very little visibility to see the fish.
“The fish had to rely on their sense of smell,” he noted.
But the most interesting local story may have come from the team of Gary Noga and Dave Byrnes.
After catching just 2.14 pounds with five fish after the first day, the pair estimated they had about five pounds with five fish on the second day (which would have placed them near the middle of the pack along with Socholotuk and Zen).
But the lure of an expensive rod and reel package for the lowest weight for 10 fish persuaded them to throw back their larger fish for smaller ones.
And their strategy worked as they beat took the lowest weight by 1.34 pounds.
Meanwhile, Lil Pihulak and Lew Kempf of here finished up in 75th place with a two-day total of 9.36 pounds. After weighing in 4.38 pounds on the first day, they improved slightly with a catch of 4.85 pounds Sunday.
Sitting at 107th was the team of Denis Barnard and Orest Kocuiba with a two-day total of 6.5 pounds for five fish.
After hauling in that total for the first day and sitting in a reasonably good position heading into day two, the pair got skunked Sunday.
Rounding out the local competitors was the team of George Chabot and Carey Basaraba. After getting skunked the first day, they hauled in five fish for 4.46 pounds on the second day to finish 127th.