McBride and Ballan look to continue their winning ways on Rainy River

By Allan Bradbury
Staff writer

After winning last spring’s Emo Walleye Classic, with a two-day total of 23.19 Lbs. long-time partners Doug McBride and Steve Ballan are hoping they can have a repeat performance this weekend in the Rainy River Walleye Tournament.

Ballan says this is the pair’s 30th year fishing in tournaments together and McBride says they get along well.

“We just get along, we’ve been good friends for a long, long time,” McBride said. “We’ve been through a lot of stuff together and we just get along well in the boat.”

He adds that Ballan’s sense of humour helps them through long days on the water.

“Steve is pretty much a comedian kind of guy,” McBride said. “So he’s always got a few jokes and that keeps the mood nice and light.”

The pair headed out to do some pre-fishing on Sunday with the hopes of locating some good spots to get fish the following week, knowing the western part of the Rainy River is a different beast from the eastern part where they had a good showing in May.

“The western part of the Rainy River from Long Sault down is a lot deeper and there’s less current because of the depths of the water,” McBride said. “There’s probably more fish, but they’re harder to find. At this time of year, with September rolling in, waiting for fall weather, the walleyes are going to start coming up the river, we’re just hoping a few of them come up and we’ll be able to find them.”

Ballan says in recent observations of the river make him a little uncertain.

“I went and had a look at the river the other day and it’s really low,” He said. “There’s not really a lot of current, so I don’t know if that’s going to affect the fish a lot.”

They headed out to do some pre-fishing after our interview in hopes of figuring out the best places to find a good bag of fish.

Ballan said while winning again would be great, they’d probably be happy with a top-10 finish.

“Anywhere in the top 10 is always great,” Ballan said. “Definitely winning would be good, we won them both in, I think 2005.”

Doug McBride and Steve Ballon celebrate at the 2005 RRWT – it was the last year the team won both the RRWT and Emo Walleye Classic in the same year. There’s a chance they could do it again – they’re entering the river as this year’s Emo champions.

Indeed, McBride and Ballan did win both the Emo Walleye Classic and the Rainy River tournament in 2005 and were crowned ‘Kings of the River’ according to a Times article from that time.

They finished that weekend with a bag of 25.10 Lbs. and beat out the day one leaders Norm Hyatt and Brian Bonot in a comeback.

Though there is no prize awaiting them for claiming both as the River Champions prize money is sponsored by Badiuk Equipment for winners who use a Lund Boat or Mercury motor. If they did they’d be in line for an additional $3,000.

For McBride getting four walleye in the livewell is the first step.

“We need to, first and foremost, get four fish, and that’s not easy in Rainy River and when it gets to be day two, it’s even tougher,” McBride said. “We’ve had days when you get one or none. Getting four on both days is key to winning and cashing a cheque.”