Plans for Emo walleye derby heat up

Talks are in the preliminary stages but the possibility of a live-release walleye derby coming to Emo have grown after a meeting last week between the Chamber of Commerce there and reps of other fishing tournaments from the district.
The next step is to get input from the community, said Chamber president Colleen Vennechenko.
“Right now, we’re just feeling things out,” she said. “Our biggest thing is that we need a chairperson. It’s the first person we need. We’d like to talk to the community and get their thoughts.”
A question-and-answer session is slated for Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Emo Inn.
Vennechenko said the Emo derby would start out on a small scale—as a two-day, 50-team event in early June on the Rainy River.
“We would just be starting with the basics,” she stressed. “To make sure we didn’t draw away from [the Rainy River walleye tournament or Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship].
“That’s why this meeting was important. I wanted to see whether it was O.K.”
Lionel Robert, emcee of both the FFCBC and Rainy River walleye tournament, originally brought the idea to Vennechenko this past summer.
He was in Emo, located about 25 km west of Fort Frances, with Rainy River reps Kristine Brown and Patti Palson, as well as Doug Cain, Geoff Gillon, and Robin Wright of the FFCBC.
“I think they are interested. They have a bit of problem with logistics. They’d have to work closely with mill [at Fort Frances] to see how the lake levels work out during that time,” said Robert, who also is a trained fisheries biologist.
“The community, that’s just where the decision lies. They’re probably feeling out the community and see if they have support,” he added.
“I think Emo should be hosting a spring walleye tourney. The Rainy River is just a fantastic venue,” he enthused.
Wright, who also is a member of the Emo Chamber of Commerce, said if this initiative was to get off the ground, it would be off the strength of the community.
“We want to see the benefits be for the whole community and area,” he stressed.
Robert agreed, adding while he heads up “Lion Rob tournament services” based in Winnipeg, an Emo walleye tournament would feature the town as the one and only hosts.
“A lot of these tourneys just drive into town for the weekend and then leave. To me, they’re just invading someone’s area,” he argued. “It has to be a community-based event. They are the hosts.”
The district has seen a growth in the number of fishing tourneys over the past few years. Besides the FFCBC and Rainy River walleye event, other long-time derbies are held in Morson and Sioux Narrows.
Lake Despair Lodge also hosted its inaugural bass tourney this past summer.
Vennechenko said people with questions, concerns, or suggestions should call her at the Corner Closet (482-2171) or at home (482-1811).