High water throws wrench at anglers

Since the season-opener last weekend, the Rainy River has been littered with anglers feverishly pre-fishing for the 2005 Emo Walleye Classic.
But as the annual event kicked off Friday morning, many were worried their efforts might have been all for naught.
Emo angler Greg Bombay spent two days—and successful ones at that—fishing the river earlier this week but didn’t exactly exude confidence as he waited to launch his boat on Friday.
“I thought I had it all figured out before the rain came,” sighed Bombay, who has participated in the EWC since its inception in 2002. “We were catching lots of fish, but we were catching ’em before the water came up.
“Now it’s a different story,” he added. “All of a sudden we went out yesterday [for a third day of pre-fishing] and hardly got a bite.”
Bombay certainly wasn’t the only angler shaking his head in frustration Friday morning as the clock ticked towards the launch of the first flight at 8 a.m.
Pre-fishing—a definite advantage in the past—won’t matter much this time out, many agreed.
“It’s not going to help at all. Everything changed,” said defending EWC champion Dale Hartlin, who was the first to leave the launching area this morning with partner Dan Pollard as Team #1.
“Considering the conditions, it’s not going to do a whole lot of good,” concurred longtime angler Les Morrison.
The water level on the Rainy River has risen steadily since more than 50 mm (2.2 inches) of rain deluged Borderland on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday morning, it was more than three metres above normal.
In fact, the river was so high that the Front Street dock and boat launch used for past Emo tournaments was submerged. Instead, EWC participants had to head out from an older launching pad further west.
The anglers said the water temperature, current, and clarity all have been affected by heavy rains earlier this week.
The river also is littered with debris that was stirred up during the rainstorm.
“It’s going to make things harder, make things tougher for everybody,” said Morrison.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” echoed Eric Lessman of Devlin.
Still, most participants wore smiles as emcee Lionel Robert prepared to send the 60 teams off Friday morning. After all, the unpredictable river conditions give every duo a shot at claiming the title—and the $12,000 first prize.
“You never know who’s going to be lucky enough to drag his bait right in front of the big one,” Morrison noted.
Teammates Jeff Brown and Vance Allan also found reason for optimism as they surveyed the grey clouds. “It was worse yesterday [Thursday],” grinned Allan.
The weather forecast for Saturday calls for partly cloudy skies, with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. The high only will reach 14 C (57 F).
The first weigh-in runs Friday from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre.
The fourth-annual EWC wraps up Saturday, with the first flight set to launch at 7:30 a.m.
The Day Two weigh-in runs from 3:30-6 p.m., with the derby champs being crowned at 6:30 p.m.