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Algonac man wins rain-soaked Marble Eye

BY JIM BLOCH, VOICE STAFF WRITER


"The rain beat the living heck out of the fishermen and the water started getting real muddy, but all the different methods were working," said Greg McWain, chairman of the St. Clair Marble Eye Committee, which organized the three-day walleye tournament based in St. Clair.

A total of 389 anglers paid their $5 entry fee for the May 21-23 around-the-clock competition, up from 359 last year.

Finley Gerow of Algonac got the best return on his investment, winning the $150 first prize for the biggest walleye on Friday and taking home the $500 "hog" prize for biggest fish of the weekend. Gerow's fish weighed nine pounds, eight ounces.

"I'm going to split the money with my partner and use it to pay for my mount," said Gerow, who fished with Dave Vaughn of Marine City. Gerow turned down the offer of event organizers to filet his big fish for the Sunday afternoon fish fry that accompanied the awards ceremony. "It's the biggest walleye I ever caught."

Gerow, who has fished all three Marble Eye Classics, was caught in downpours each of the three days of this year's event.

"Friday was real good. It rained and we never went back out. We had our limit by quarter to 11 p.m.," Gerow said. "But last night, I never got a fish."

He hooked the winner about 9:30 p.m. on Friday near Detroit Edison's St. Clair plant, fishing with a plug called an "Orangehead Ambassador" made by a Marine City man, blue and chrome with an orange head.

"I told my partner it was a big one or I was falsely hooked," Gerow said.

St. Clair City Superintendent Patrick Sullivan worked the weigh-in tent Friday and Saturday nights with other volunteers.

"From 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, we weighed in 31 fish," Sullivan said. "On Saturday night, we had one."

McWain, on the other hand, weighed in two-dozen walleyes from midnight until 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The "Top 25" board was studded with fishermen from around the region, with Gerow on top with his nine-and-a-half pounder. Don Byreans, Algonac, was second at 8-15; Mike McCabe, Chesterfield, was third at 7-14; James Greig, St. Clair, fourth, 7-8; Skip St. Aubin, Cottrellville Township, fifth, 7-8. The rest of the finishers: Dave Bell, East China, 7-7; Tony Conyers, Marine City, 7-5; Rob Carpenter, 7-3; Bob Heyden, St. Clair, 7-3; Ross MacLeod, Marine City, 7-1; Kevin Murphy, Marine City, 7-0; St. Aubin, 6-14; Lance Avison, St. Clair, 6-13; Greg Yaek, Port Huron, 6-12; Duane Daenzer, Flint, 6-11; Ed Westrick, St. Clair, 6-11; St. Aubin, 6-8; John Harper, Marine City, 6-8; Brent Sparr, Fort Gratiot, 6-6; Ralph Dusette, Clay Township, 6-6; Skip Freeland, St. Clair, 6.6; Bill Schroeder, St. Clair, 6-4; Sparr, 6-3; and Gene Zohr, Columbus Township, 6.

Joe Landa and his family deep-fried the fresh walleye for the award ceremony meal, along with coleslaw and rolls - certainly the best fish being served on the river on Sunday, flaky, moist and clean-tasting under a twist of lemon.

"It's a blast," Sullivan said of the tournament.

McWain urged anglers to look forward to the fourth annual event in 2005 on the weekend before Memorial Day. He signed off with a simple: "Good fishing."
 
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