Cochrane, Gibbons win Emo derby

The inaugural Emo Walleye Classic went down to the wire Saturday to decide the champions.
Harvey Cochrane and Oliver Gibbons were crowned the winners—and presented the $9,500 first prize—with a two-day total weight of 15 pounds even.
Jody Shypit and Mike Graham, the leaders after Day One on Friday, wound up in second place with 13.82 pounds—earning $5,000.
Dale LaBelle and Wayne Angus, the defending champions of the Rainy River and District Chamber of Commerce walleye tournament, finished in third place with 13.76 pounds.
They took home $3,000.
The crowd of 500 under the big tent at the Emo/La Vallee Community Centre had to wait almost 20 minutes for the winners to be officially crowned.
The team of Bryan Hughes and Trevor Croswell had enough weight to take top honours but the biggest of their four fish was removed because they had three fish over 18 inches in length—one more than allowed by tourney rules.
Instead, the 3.46-pound penalty dropped the pair into fourth spot with an 11.58 pounds to win $2,000.
“We had to make a tough decision,” said EWC chair Dale Hartlin, who met with the 13-member committee before emcee Lionel Robert took the stage to make the official announcement.
This was the first tournament Cochrane (a Manitou Rapids native who now lives in Fort Frances) and Gibbons (one-half of last year’s Kenora Bass International champion with brother, Jason) had fished together.
“This is my home water. I’ve fished Manitou Rapids my whole life,” said Cochrane, who originally was going to fish the tournament with Virgil Allan.
“I knew where [the walleye] would be and what they’d be doing,” he added.
Doug McBride and Steve Ballan finished fifth ($1,500) with a 10.60-pound total.
In addition to their cash prizes, the two top teams also qualified for the Wal-Mart RCL Championship in Red Wing, Mn. in October.
Other prize winners included $600 to Shypit/Graham for the “big catch” of Day One and Cochrane/Gibbons for Day Two; and $600 each to John Bodnarchuk/Pete Hapka for “big fish” (4.78 pounds) on Day One and Greg Bombay/Terry Prichard (3.44) for Day Two.
Hidden weight winners ($250 each) were McBride/Ballan and Ted Heyens/Kelvin Caul. Hughes/Croswell also took home the Top Crestliner boat/Yahama motor award worth $600.
Tyler Mann/Greg Hartlin were the Most Improved team, also winning $600.
Forty-five teams competed in the Emo Walleye Classic. A full field would have been 50.
In addition to the fishing, other activities included a boat parade, fish fry, ribeye and prime rib dinners, and continental breakfast served by the Emo Figure Skating Club on both mornings.
A “Walleye Classic” dance capped off the event Saturday night.