Callum and Zander McCormick live on the Rainy River. Their grandpa Bryan Bonot, who lived just two kilometres downstream, would often appear on the banks to take them fishing.
From ages 9-12, Callum competed in the Emo Walleye Classic with his grandpa.
“It was a lot of fun,” he says. “It was always good fishing with him and hanging out in the boat.”
Now that he’s 16, Callum is returning to the competition. But Grandpa won’t be captaining the boat.
Bonot died last spring at age 73.
“He was always a good role model for us,” says Callum. “He would always help us with anything we needed.”
Bonot’s obituary says he was intensely proud of his children and grandchildren.
“He never hesitated to support them in any of their pursuits,” the obituary reads. “For a man of few words he was never short on conveying his pride, his love and his support through his actions and was always prepared to do anything he could to help.”
Callum and Zander made it clear they want to compete in Grandpa’s boat, fishing in his memory.
Bonot had fished the Walleye Classic for many years, and his brother, Nevin, was a founding member of the tournament’s organizing committee.
While Callum has some tournament experience, his now 14-year-old brother is getting his first taste of competitive angling. Zander says he hopes they’ll do alright. Callum says the goal is to ride through the arena on day two.
“We get along pretty well in the boat, so hopefully that leads to some success,” he says.
And don’t count this pair out due to “youthful inexperience” — their father Andy says the boys essentially fish every day during the summers.
“They know a lot of spots in the river,” he says.
He says they’ve also started making their own lures.
Tournament fishing begins Friday morning with the first flight leaving at 8 a.m. from Emo’s secondary launch in front of the Golden Age Manor. Weigh-ins begin shortly after 4:30 p.m. when anglers start to return. Day two begins at the same time with flights returning an hour earlier.
Teams are allowed four fish per day. Competitors are allowed two fish over 18 inches, and the other two should be between 12 and 18 inches. The heaviest total weight wins. Based on 30 boats, the top team will receive $6,000.
The McCormick brothers are also eligible for the tournament’s newest prize. Any team whose combined age is less than 50 is entered in a draw to win the Junior Angler Award valued at $500 sponsored by Barker Logging.