A husband and wife team from Regina claimed the top prize at the annual season opening Walleye Classic fishing tournament at Boundary Dam reservoir on Saturday.
Delvin and Linda Kushniryks' six walleyes weighed in for a total of 15.54 pounds, giving them the $1,200 first prize in the tournament sponsored by the Estevan Wildlife Federation.
The Kushniryks have won the tournament before, so it didn't take much to lure them back into the local waters around Estevan this year.
The Kushniryks' catch was well ahead of the second-place finishers, Marcel Marcotte and Bernie Bjorndalen, who hauled in 11.50 pounds which was good enough for $900 in prize money.
Mike Halirewich, president of the EWF, one of the many volunteers who donated their time and talents for the full-day event that saw the first flight of two-person teams hit the water in their boats at 7 a.m., said the day was nearly perfect with bright skies, light winds and moderate temperatures.
Recent water releases from the dam may have stirred up the fish with some of them being lost to downstream floods. While some fishers reported poor to medium fishing conditions, those at the top of the tournament reeled in fish weights and volumes that exceeded last year's winning effort from Clinton and Chandler Harkins of Bienfait who had claimed the title with a total of 13.54 pounds.
This year's biggest fish was also larger than last year, with David and Curtis Boisclair bringing in a 4.86 pound specimen, which was nearly a pound more than last year's winner caught by Jamie Dyer. The Boisclair father and son team claimed the Peterson Construction $300 prize for their efforts.
The competition was tighter this year with a total of 40 teams taking to the water in two flights. Last year, the event attracted 32 entries.
Lance Marcotte and Karen Soke claimed third prize in this year's tournament with 9.50 pounds that yielded $600 while Tim and James Geni received $400 for their 9.26 pounds of walleye.
The fifth and sixth place finishers, Lorne Garland and Dave Fawcett and Mark and Michael Coupland picked up $300 and $200 respectively for their six-fish catches that weighed in for totals of 7.02 and 6.66 pounds.
The tournament usually attracts avid fishers not only from the immediate area but also from Regina and Moose Jaw as well as several from the United States since it is the first fishing tournament of the year in the province following the official season opening.
Once again, this was a catch and release tournament meaning that 99 per cent of the fish caught easily survived the experience and lived to be caught on another day.