EWC champs first to repeat

Joey Payeur

Bill Godin had noted last week the obvious difficulty of winning the Emo Walleye Classic in consecutive years since nobody had done it.
Then he and partner Ralph Galusha went and did just that.
The Devlin duo became the first repeat champs—and now have twice as many EWC titles as anybody else—after grabbed their fourth victory in the 14th edition of the tourney, which wrapped up Saturday at the Emo-La Vallee Arena.
Needing precisely four pounds to take top spot in the 29-team field, Godin and Galusha secured the $5,000 winner’s cheque with a Day 2 weight of 4.62 pounds.
Their two-day total of 13.70 was enough to nose out 2004 champs Dale Hartlin and Dan Pollard from Emo (13.07), whose second-place finish was their best result since winning it all 11 years earlier.
“It feels awesome,” Godin enthused after he and Galusha added to their list of top finishes from 2007, 2010, and last year.
“I actually went into the tourney with the best feeling ever because we caught plenty of big ones during pre-fishing,” he noted.
The pair joined most of the teams that headed east both days of the tournament.
But the rest were left in the champs’ wake after Godin snared a lunker weighing in at 6.23 pounds.
That turned out to be the catch which netted them $500 for being the big fish of Day 1 (and, as it turned out, the whole tournament) and eventually made Godin and Galusha uncatchable.
“That took a lot of fight,” admitted Godin. “It was like it was anchored in cement.
“It was five minutes, at least, before we got it in the boat,” he added.
“It would go down, then right up, then back down again.
“I had to be careful to brace the line while at the same time, I didn’t want to pull the hook out of him,” Godin added.
Leading after Day 1 by more than two pounds (9.08), with half of the rest of the field bunched up in the four- to seven-pound range, the defending champs appeared to be in good shape heading into Day 2.
But Galusha wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“One big bite can change things for anybody,” he reasoned.
“Anyone snares a 10-pounder, or even a five-pounder, and they can leap back into the mix so quick.”
Hartlin and Pollard, who earned $2,500 for second place, took over the “hot seat” reserved for the leaders after bringing in the heaviest bag on Day 2 at 7.29 pounds.
They stayed there for six more rounds to collect an extra $350.
“I thought we would probably get knocked out at No. 4 or 5,” Hartlin confessed.
“Ralph and Bill are pretty good fishermen,” he added. “But to lose by [six-10ths of a pound] is tough.”
Pollard figured the trophy had slipped through their grasp before Godin and Galusha even made it to the stage.
“I figured it would be close but when they hauled their fish out, I knew they were going to beat us,” said Pollard, who remained stoic despite the narrow loss.
“It was a lot of fun. We enjoyed it,” he enthused.
This year’s Emo Walleye Classic was pushed back a week in an attempt to allow for more favourable river conditions.
But it took a heavy dose of precipitation in the weeks leading up to the EWC to bring the river to safer levels, with the resulting muddying of the waters lending itself to lower weights.
“We had an early spring this year and the water warmed up quickly,” noted Galusha.
“We would have preferred [the tournament] earlier,” he remarked.
Galusha then offered a “Terminator”-like warning to the rest of the field looking to prevent a three-peat in 2016.
“We’ll be back.”
Les Morrison and Oliver Gibbons of Morson, who won in 2013 to give Gibbons his second title, were second after Day 1 at seven pounds even.
But the pair fell short of that mark on Day 2 and wound up in third overall (12.58).
Darwin Thompson of Fort Frances and his brother, Rick, from Emo, placed fourth (11.17).
Rick Socholotuk and Mike Maxton of Fort Frances rounded out the top five (11.04).
Irwin Hughes of Devlin and his daughter, Amber, were sixth (10.79) and also had the big fish for Day 2 (4.77).