McBride, Ballan crowned walleye kings

In fishing circles, they’re now considered royalty.
After winning the Rainy River Walleye Tournament yesterday, to go along with their Emo Walleye Classic crown this past spring, Doug McBride and Steve Ballan have been crowned “Kings of the River.”
“It’s incredible,” said a beaming Ballan. “Just incredible, and I can’t believe it.”
The duo found themselves in second place by 2.18 pounds after Saturday’s weigh-in behind Norm Hyatt and Brian Bonot, who had garnered 17.03 pounds—the biggest bag of the tournament.
As such, both McBride and Ballan knew they would need a big day Sunday to give themselves a chance to take home the $12,000 first prize.
And though heavy fog delayed the launch by 90 minutes (“You couldn’t see 10 feet in front of the boat,” noted Ballan), and despite bringing in more than five pounds less than their previous day’s weight with a bag of 9.98 pounds, they were able to trounce the competition.
“We were in the same spot as [Saturday], but there were quite a few more boats than yesterday,” said McBride. “It was slow today, though. It was calm and sunny and the big ones weren’t where they were yesterday, that’s for sure.
“Yesterday was a really good walleye day. It was a bit choppy, and dark, and rainy and just perfect,” McBride added. “It was like glass out there today, and it’s not the best walleye conditions.”
One team that was able to figure out the river after the drastic overnight weather change (53 of the 81-boat field brought in lower weights on Day Two than on Day One) was Rainy River native Chris Stone and Shannon Jonasson of Sleeman, who rocketed up the leaderboard after bringing in 14.86 pounds yesterday.
They had hauled in 8.66 pounds on Saturday and waited nervously to see if their 23.52-pound total would hold up.
It did not.
McBride and Ballan’s total weight was 1.58 pounds better, but at least Stone and Jonasson held onto the second spot and $6,500 cheque.
Though Hyatt and Bonot ended up in third place with a 22.36-pound total, the duo, competing in only their second RRWT, enjoyed the experience—especially being pulled through the tent.
“That’s what we wanted to do—we wanted to get pulled through the tent,” said Bonot.
“It was a great experience, and it was more than I could imagine,” added Hyatt.
But the day belonged to McBride and Ballan and they celebrated in winning style afterwards. Well, one did anyway.
“I’ve got to got to work tomorrow morning and I didn’t sleep at all last night, because I was just so pumped, so I’m heading for bed,” noted Ballan, who resembled Grizzly Adams with his untrimmed beard.
“We’re going to have a big meal with the family,” said McBride, “And take off the Visa bill tomorrow.”
In related news, 35 youngsters had entered the kids’ tournament and when all was said and done, Tyler Thunder won the biggest fish award with a 26.5-inch northern pike.
Carson Noga was recognized as the most promising angler after brining in a 15.6-inch walleye (he was leading the tournament up until the last 15 minutes) while Kevin Zhang took third place with a 15.2-inch walleye.
Jayleen Anderson was the other most promising angler after catching a 10.5-inch walleye while Joel Ottertail won the longest cast competition.