It didn't take long for the defending champs to let the rest of the competition know they were going to be in for a tough weekend at the 17th-annual Emo Walleye Classic.
Baudette's Les Morrison and his Morson-based partner, Oliver Gibbins, wowed the crowd with a Day 1 total of 11.63 pounds and never looked back as they claimed the EWC title for the second-straight year.
The duo took home the $7,500 winners' cheque after topping the 31-boat field with a two-day total of 19.53 pounds, which was 8.31 pounds more than the runner-up team of Dan and Josh Pollard (11.22).
They earned $2,500 for their efforts.
It was the second-straight year the Pollards finished second to Morrison and Gibbins, with the latter claiming last year's tourney with a total of 22.03 pounds compared to their 11.22 total.
“Les and I were extremely happy with the way things worked out for us,” Gibbins enthused.
“We did the same strategy as last year," he noted. "We trolled around, then we tried jigging up the fish we spotted on our graphs.”
The temperature was hot over the course of Friday and Saturday, but Gibbins and Morrison didn't let that take their eyes off the prize.
“The conditions on the water were a bit hot," Gibbins conceded. "But there was a pretty good breeze most of the time.”
Morrison and Gibbins claimed the first-flight big catch prize both days, adding a Day 2 total of 7.90 pounds to the 11.63 they had tallied on Day 1.
They brought the house down on Day 1 with a 6.09-pound lunker that ended up as the biggest fish of the day.
Morrison and Gibbins also nearly had the biggest catch on Day 2 but their 4.09-pounder was just .10 of a pound shy of Bryan Bonot and Callum McCormick's catch.
“Our first fish on Day 1 and the last fish on Day 2 were the most memorable moments of the weekend,” Gibbins remarked.
“They were the ones we needed.”
Gibbins also noted it was a slow day on the water on Day 2 but their weekend still was enjoyable.
Taking third place was the duo of Mike Redford and Tony Flatt, who claimed the $1,500 cheque with a two-day total of 10.39 pounds.
They also were the only other team in the field to hit double digits in weight.
It was a tight race from there as less than a pound separated fourth place from seventh place.
That included Bill Godin and Nolan Mann (9.95 pounds), Riley Caul and John Barker (9.73), Todd and Kalin Grennier (9.22), and Grant Swire and Leroy Wilson (9.05).
Rounding out the top 10 were Trapper Bahr and Taylor Harbort (7.84), Travis Rob and Travis Wood (7.50), and Jim Steele and Ed Bullied (7.26).
Bahr and Harbort had the Day 1 second-flight big catch (4.09) while Brendan Loney and Shane Scott nabbed the Day 2 prize (6.68).
Committee co-chair Sue Pelepetz, who also served as the director of marketing and nighttime entertainment, was pleased with how the weekend went and appreciative of all the hands she had on deck.
“As always, everything comes together,” she enthused.
"My committee pulled together and helped each other out when needed, and I am thankful for all of them and their hard work over the past week.
“Also a huge thank you to all the volunteers," Pelepetz added. "Couldn't do it without them!”
Pelepetz thought the tournament ran smoothly and the feedback was positive.
“We had several anglers approach us and tell us it's the most fun tournament they do and thoroughly enjoy it,” she noted.
“I like watching the flights take off in the morning, of course the weigh-ins, and then the dance . . . that's when you can sit back and relax.”
Pelepetz also said she was pleased the field initially featured 33 teams even though two ended up backing out before the tournament started.