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Area nets new fishing tournament

 

Boats slowly troll Banks Lake near Steamboat Rock Saturday during the Spokane Walleye Club's tournament, which just moved to the north end of the lake this year. - Scott Hunter photo

Some 66 anglers caught and released 461 walleye over the course of the Gordon Steinmetz Memorial Spring Walleye Classic at Coulee Playland last weekend, but the biggest catch was likely the tournament, itself.

Bill and Robin Harrison ranked highest with a total two-day haul of 36.42 pounds of walleye, a total helped considerably by the biggest fish of the event at 9.5 pounds.

The tournament brought in those 66 teams, 132 anglers, plus others in their entourages, a number that likely produced a little extra boost for the early season.

"Whether they realize it or not, people likely saw these folks buying groceries, gas and more in town," said Hal Rauch, owner of Coulee Playland.

The tournament moved to the north end of Banks Lake for the first time this year, after years of operating out of Coulee City, where Steinmetz had owned the Big Wally's convenience store and gas station. His name was still first on the list of entrants on the Spokane Walleye Club's big tournament board set up at the resort in a lot that also displayed Lund fishing boats from a Yakima dealer and two pickups from Jess Ford.

Organizer George Allen said the decision to move to Electric City had been a difficult one, but that the club greatly appreciated the support of the community, including sponsorships from Jess Auto, Coulee Playland, Loepp Furniture, Grand Coulee Center Lodge, Trailwest Motel and Banks Lake Pub.

"This has been in the works for a couple years," Rauch said of the move that gave his business an earlier start to the camping season than it normally sees.

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