Two days before the start of the ninth-annual Emo Walleye Classic, there is a debate about whether the low water level on the Rainy River will work for the anglers.
About two feet lower in most places than usual, dipping down to just two feet of depth in some areas, local competitors can’t decide if the low water will work to their advantage.
“This year, the water level was low all over the place so there are lots of spots on the river where you’re only talking two or three feet of water,” noted Denis Barnard, competing in his ninth-straight EWC.
“If you’re running a big boat with a big motor, that’s not a lot of water.”
“You’ve got to be paying attention to where you’re going,” agreed Brian Dent, who competes with his wife, Carole, and are in their fourth EWC.
“The river always plays a part because a lot of folks won’t travel as far down river if the water is low because the river is a challenge with all the reefs,” noted Barnard.
“I hit a reef one year but things like that happen.
“It’s an awful feeling when you hit one, but if you do a lot of fishing and running the river, there is a chance you can hit a rock,” he reasoned.
Dent advised leaving lots of time to make it back into Emo for the weigh-in at the end of each day.
“Trying to stay in one piece is more of a challenge,” he remarked. “If you get into a rush, then you are going to run into problems.
“There are quite a few dead heads showing up.
“There are always a few people that will knock their bottoms off, and I imagine that quite a few more will do it again this year,” he added.
A GPS helps immensely, said Dent.
“Once you pick your track, pick your deep waters and if you stick to that track when travelling, you should be safe,” he declared.
Terry Wilson, in his seventh EWC, said he hit a reef a few years back and it cost him $7,000.
“There’s more reefs I’ve seen down there than any other time,” he noted.
But Barnard thinks the river won’t play too big of a factor in the end.
“If [the river] is shallow and you find [the fish] when you’re pre-fishing, and you want to work that area, you will probably get your fish,” he enthused.
Dent believes the shallow water actually will play right into his advantage this year.
“I enjoy the shallow water more than the higher water,” he said. “The current is less wild and it’s easier to fish when you don’t have five or six miles an hour current, so this is a little easier.
“I’m not into the fast current, where it’s kind of touchy.”
But Dent did say he wishes the river was six-12 inches higher.
Mother Nature also will play a role in how the fishing turns out, with the competitors agreeing that a little cloud cover will go a long way.
“You get a bit of rain like we did [on Monday] and it might liven the river up, give it a little more flow,” Dent noted.
The Weather Network currently is forecasting this Friday and Saturday to be beautiful, with highs between 22 and 25 C under mainly sunny skies.
Dent, meanwhile, noted the fish don’t seem to be biting as much this year.
“The fish are a little more fussy, they aren’t being aggressive at all,” he said. “Not so much trouble getting bites, just having trouble getting anything with size.”
He added he hasn’t caught anything over two pounds yet this year.
“The thing about river fishing is
PlrPlthat you are trying to get that one or two big walleyes that will help you win the tournament,” said Barnard.
“You can catch lots of small ones, but you gotta get a big one in order to make it come together.
“Sometimes that’s the challenge but it’s still a lot of fun,” Barnard added.
“When you catch your fish and put it all together, it makes it all worthwhile.”