Ready to roll

Northwestern Ontario welcomed the start of another tourist season last weekend as the yearly flow of U.S. visitors began to trickle across the border here.
It’s only fitting, then, that the region’s annual fishing tournament circuit kicks off this Friday morning when the Emo Walleye Classic takes to the waters of the Rainy River.
The EWC, now in its fourth year, may be one of the new kids on the block, but it certainly doesn’t take a back seat to more established tournaments or those held in larger centres. It now sports a full field of 60 teams vying for the $12,000 first prize, and always promises to be a good time for anglers and spectators alike.
It’s also clearly earned a soft spot in the heart of popular longtime emcee Lionel Robert, who has chosen to return to the EWC even though he’s cut back considerably on his schedule this year.
In a nutshell, the tournament organizers know how to put on a good show, thanks, in no small part, to the enthusiastic support of residents and businesses of Emo.
The proliferation of fishing tournaments in various communities over the past decade or so has changed the district’s summer scene. For one, the EWC, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, and Rainy River Walleye Tournament, not to mention similar tournaments at Lake Despair, Northwest Bay, and Sioux Narrows, have provided an economic windfall.
Equally important, they expose Northwestern Ontario to visiting anglers, who may later vacation here themselves or at least pass the word along to family and friends back in their own hometowns. In effect, the tournaments are an excellent marketing tool.
And, of course, district residents eagerly circle them on their calendars months in advance.
Mother Nature may not always co-operate, and improvements always must be made to reduce fish mortality, but the tournament circuit has proven to be a boon to Rainy River District. Those who put in the long hours to organize the various events deserve our thanks.
Good luck to all the anglers in 2005.