Cracking the top 10 two years in a row was nice for Doug McBride and Steve Ballan.
But they wanted a little more this time around.
The district duo teamed up once again and mastered the waters of the Rainy River in claiming the 20th-annual Rainy River Walleye Tournament title on Saturday with a two-day haul of 24.02 pounds.
McBride and Ballan had the biggest bag of the tournament–a whopping 17.05-pound haul on Day 1–and then followed that up with another 6.97 pounds on the final day to top the 100-team field and claim the $20,000 first-place cheque under the big tent at Hannam Park.
The duo previously had won the tourney back in 2005–and were more than excited to sit atop the field once again.
“We’re real happy,” McBride enthused.
“It was tough out there this morning [Saturday],” he added. “We got one [fish] and then we got another one and then that third small one.
“We were lucky today with what we got today,” McBride conceded. “But we’re happy.”
Ballan agreed it was tough fishing on the final day.
“It was a really small day. Those were the only three walleye we caught all day,” he noted, adding it’s a “pretty surreal” feeling to be crowned the RRWT champs for the second time.
It also was the first time in the tournament’s history that there’s been a field of 100 teams and a first-place prize of $20,000.
“There’s no better feeling than there is right now,” enthused Ballan.
“All right, we’ll take that,” McBride grinned when told they were the $20,000 winners.
The day became even better for Ballan after the awards presentation as his name was drawn to win the grand prize of a pontoon boat, courtesy of the Border Lions Club.
This year’s runners-up at the RRWT were Brenda Jodoin and Dave Seguin, who finished with a two-day total of 19.82 pounds.
Taking third were Cathy and Claude Seguin (18.45), who were in the “hot seat” prior to the top-five boat parade after their Day 2 catch of 9.76 pounds temporarily vaulted them into the lead.
Cory Ney and Bryan Baron took fourth spot (16.79) while Aaron and Tony Bisson rounded out the top five (16.42).
The Bissons also had the crowd in awe with the biggest fish of the tournament– a 7.11-pound monster caught on the final day.
“It was actually a really tough day for us, even with that fish,” Aaron conceded.
“For a couple of hours this morning, we hadn’t caught anything but then in a half-an-hour, we had a couple in the boat,” he noted.
“So it was a slow day.”
Kirk Wood and Adam Bolen wound up sixth (16.29), followed by Bill Godin and Leroy Wilson in seventh (16.1).
Joe Dobransky and Brian Larson were eighth (15.85), Mike and Linz Bourre finished ninth (15.62) while Danny Usiski and Bill Haskell rounded out the top 10 (15.6).
Last year’s champs, Mark Thompson and Jerry Messer of Sauk Centre, Mn., had a tougher time this year in winding up 14th overall (14.4).
The duo won their first title together at last year’s tourney with a two-day total of 24.98 pounds.
As for the kids’ mini-fishing tournament that happened earlier Saturday, Blaire Pocock claimed the six-and-under division title with a 37-inch jack.
Owen Perreault was second (26″) while Helen Hartnell was third (23″).
In the age seven-and-up division, Roman Frattoroli claimed top spot after reeling in a 19-inch pike.
William Big George was second (15.5″).
There wasn’t a third-place winner as those were the only two fish caught in the flight.