First-time team captures Emo walleye derby

Queen’s “We are the Champions” boomed out of the speakers over the cheering crowd as Dale Hartlin and Dan Pollard stepped up on the stage Saturday afternoon to collect their reward as this year’s Emo Walleye Classic champs.
They stood—fists pumped in the air—smiling at the crowd inside the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre and holding up their plaques that declared them the winners from the pack of 53 teams.
They pocketed $10,500 for first place, as well as $600 both Friday and Saturday for having the biggest fish of the day and another $600 for having the heaviest weight on Day Two (Saturday).
Their total weight over the two days was 20.26 pounds—the heaviest in the tournament’s three-year history.
Hartlin was the chair of the tournament for its first two years and responsible for coining its title.
“It was an awesome rush, we had done it! It’s unbelievable,” said Hartlin.
Pollard and Hartlin have been friends for about 30 years, and have been fishing for almost as long. But this was the first year they had competed in the Emo tournament and—other than a few hours of pre-fishing—the first time Pollard even had fished the Rainy River.
“I went into the tournament [and[ figured it would be a cheap fun weekend. I figured if we finish in the top 10 or so, that would be great,” said Pollard.
The pair did most of their fishing by the Manitou rapids, which is where they caught the big ones.
Using a combination of light jigs and minnows, they managed to pull in the biggest fish on both days of the tournament—Friday’s big fish weighed in at 6.16 pounds and Saturday’s tipped the scales at 4.58 pounds.
They caught their big fish on Day Two just 10 feet from where they caught their lunker the day before.
“It’s a big thrill,” Hartlin said of winning the tournament that he previously was so involved in running. “Now I just want to go home and phone my kids in Winnipeg and tell them.”
Denis Barnard and Peter Van Drunen, the leaders after Day One, wound up in second place with an 18.24-pound total, followed by Wade Mose and Wayne Both (17.24 pounds), Peter Hapka and Gary Kreger (16.76), and last year’s runners-up Frank Grunewald and Frank McWhinnie (15.76).
Rounding out the top 10 were Dennis “Radar” Smith and Marlin Carr (15.28 pounds), the husband-and-wife team of Andrea and Cameron Trembath (14.36), Patrick Langevin and Michael Hilborn (13.76), Bill Godin and Ralph Galusha (13.56), and brothers Trevor and Kevin Croswell (12.96).
The defending champs, Greg Stahn and Todd Baker, had a tough time this year, finishing in 31st place overall with a total weight of 9.58 pounds.