It’s hard to believe a year has passed since Steve Ballan and Doug McBride hoisted up the 10-pound beauty that propelled them to victory in the Emo Walleye Classic last May.
But it has, which means anglers once again will be heading out onto the Rainy River on Friday morning in hopes of reeling in that “lunker” which nets them the $12,000 first prize come late Saturday afternoon.
Certainly, the full field of 60 duos is hoping Mother Nature is much more co-operative this time around. Heavy rains just prior to the tournament last year caused high and extremely muddy water—resulting in 11 of the teams (including two-time champs Todd Baker and Greg Stahn) getting skunked on both days.
Then again, that’s what tournament angling is all about—adapting to the conditions to still bring in the fish.
Whether another 10-pounder gets weighed in this year, or the record total weight of 25.82 pounds set by Mr. Ballan and Mr. McBride last year falls, remains to be seen. What is known, however, is that organizers once again have worked hard to make the fifth-annual EWC an event the whole community can enjoy: from the boat parade Thursday afternoon to the popular Emo “Walleyedol” singing competition on Friday and Saturday nights.
Not to mention three suppers, children’s activities, a dance, and, of course, the weigh-ins, which this year will be supplemented by a live feed from the riverfront—sure to add to the drama and excitement inside the arena.
It all promises to be a great weekend and a fitting kick-off to the busy tournament fishing circuit in Northwestern Ontario.