It seemed like every resident turned out for at least some part of the inaugural Emo Walleye Classic last week. The weather was wonderful, the three dinners well-attended, and organizers feared they would run out of beer tickets on the final night.
It didn’t seem to matter that the river was low and the fish had “lockjaw,” as emcee Lionel Robert put it.
The fish weren’t biting, and those that were brought in were smaller than expected, but the large crowds along the waterfront and at the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre more than made up for it.
And some anglers already have signed up for next year’s EWC.
Colleen Vennechenko, president of the Emo Chamber of Commerce and a member of the derby organizing committee, said she wasn’t sure of the number of people on hand for the final weigh-in Saturday afternoon.
But she added the committee was more than happy with the turnout.
“I thought it was excellent—an excellent crowd, excellent support, especially our first-year angler performance,” she said. “Guys are signing up already for next year.
“We’re not exactly sure how many people were there [for the final weigh-in] but we had 500 seats set up and a lot of people were sitting plus a lot of people were standing off to the side.
“There had to have been 500 plus people there.”
The anglers also were pleased, with many thanking the volunteers and organizers during the final weigh-in.
“I thought it was very well-organized for a first-time tournament. It went off really well,” said Lil Pihulak, a.k.a. the “Walleye Queen.”
Marlene McQuaker, director of volunteers on the organizing committee, said she couldn’t believe the support the community gave to this inaugural tournament.
“Even today [Saturday], people were coming up to me asking if they could help out in any way,” she remarked.
And what’s a sunny weekend at a fishing tournament without beer?
“We had excellent beer sales. We were a little panicky there for a while because we thought we might run out of beer tickets,” laughed Vennechenko.
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier was at the landing and the arena for much of the time.
“It’s going well, so well,” he said before the boats launched Saturday morning. “A few more big fish would be nice but it’s going well and we have a good group of volunteers.”
Meanwhile, the organizing committee will meet soon to discuss next year’s tournament.
“We’re getting together next Wednesday to discuss how it went and go through the suggestion box,” Vennechenko said.