Duo overcome elements to claim RRWT title

Jamie Mountain

While the weather may have been nasty on Friday, Christian Armstrong and Mark Nault were crafting their own perfect storm out on the waters of Rainy River over the weekend.
Nault, who is originally from Rainy River but now lives in Dryden, and Armstrong teamed up for an excellent two days of fishing as they claimed the title at the 21st-annual Rainy River Walleye Tournament held Friday and Saturday.
Leaving the docks at Hannam Park in fourth place on Saturday morning after a Day 1 haul of 13.26 pounds, the duo added another 14.25-pound bag to top the 89-team field with a two-day total of 27.51 pounds and secure the $16,000 winners’ cheque.
It was also the first career RRWT title for Armstrong and Nault together.
“Heading into the top five weigh-ins, we were a bit nervous,” Nault admitted.
“[But] we finally did it, years of being so close has paid off.”
A ferocious storm on Friday, the likes of which had never been seen before at the tourney, knocked a transformer out and cut the power to the big tent.
That in turn forced the RRWT members to log the weigh-ins manually.
At one point during the storm, all of the inside poles lifted up and organizers were a little scared they might lose the whole tent, but thankfully it remained intact.
One of the tournament’s brand new LED TVs also was damaged by rain water that leaked down a pole onto it, which then was auctioned off to the highest bidder at the completion of the tourney.
Brian and Jim Ney finished as the runners-up at this year’s tourney with a two-day total of 27.26 pounds, less than half a pound back of Nault and Armstrong, who they had nervous until the final weight was calculated.
The Neys were the final team to weigh in as their Day 1 haul of 15.41 pounds vaulted them into the lead but their final day catch of 11.85 pounds just wasn’t enough to knock off Nault and Armstrong.
Taking third were Rick Thompson and Tracy Wahl (25.89), who occupied the “hot seats” prior to the top five boat parade on Saturday afternoon after their Day 2 haul of 12.77 pounds temporarily vaulted them into the lead.
They were followed by Ken and Mike Vogan (25.22) while Vance and Vince Allen rounded out the top five (24.41).
Oliver and Pat Gibbins wound up sixth this year (22.88) followed by Steve and Jennifer Molodowich (22.07) and Robert Dorry and Jeremy Westman (21.54).
Derek Janousek and Brandon Ignaszewski wound up ninth (21.25) while Tom Abma and Kevin Dyck rounded out the top 10 (20.56).
Mark Thompson and Jerry Messer of Sauk Centre, Mn., the 2017 champs, finished just shy of cracking this year’s top 10 in finishing 11th with a two-day total of 20.27 pounds.
Last year’s champs, Doug McBride and Steve Ballan of Fort Frances, faced a much more difficult time this year and wound up 30th (15.42).
The duo had won their second career RRWT title together at the 20th anniversary last year with a two-day total of 24.02 pounds that topped the 100-team field and secured the $20,000 winners’ cheque.
McBride and Ballan first claimed RRWT glory together at the 2005 tourney.
“Yeah it was a far cry from last year, that’s for sure,” Ballan said about the duo’s result this year.
“I just wanna thank all the sponsors and volunteers, all of the committee. You guys put on a good show and we always look forward to coming back.”
The husband and wife team of Colin and Sharilyn wood reeled in the biggest fish on Day 1–and of the tourney itself–when they wowed the crowd with a 10.26-pound hog.
The duo finished in 41st with a two-day total of 13.22 pounds.
Heather Pilcher and Donna Heyens had the big fish on Day 2, an 8.81-pound monster that helped them finish in 50th spot with a two-day total of 10.97 pounds after getting skunked on Day 1.
Due to the poor weather, the KidSport mini fishing tournament that was slated for Saturday afternoon was postponed and rescheduled for this Saturday at the same time as the original posters.
Registration is at 10 a.m. and flight one for six-and-under will go from 10:30-11 a.m.
The age seven-and-older flight two group then will go from 11 a.m.-noon.
All participants will still need adult supervision and life jackets.