The flip of a fin meant $1,457 to Kimo Gabriel and Greg Osborne Sunday at the High Desert Marine Walleye Derby.
The team finished first at the second stop of the 2008 Columbia River Walleye Circuit, barely beating Rusty Knight and Dave Hedden by slightly more than half a pound. It is Gabriel and Osborne's third consecutive win at the Derby and second straight on the Circuit.
The difference came down to one of Knight and Hedden's fish being declared dead at the scales while one of Gabriel and Osborne's flipped its fin at the last second proving it had a pulse.
"We caught it within 20 minutes of coming in," Gabriel said about the fish that played possum at the weigh-in. "They said he was dead, but when he went back in the water he was moving around."
The pair asked for a re-inspection and it was determined the fish was indeed alive, putting the day's haul at 26.46 pounds and a two-day total of 50.50.
Knight and Hedden finished with 26.76 pounds on Sunday and a total of 49.88. Knight said their one dead fish of the weekend didn't survive the fizzing process, which usually helps the deep-water dwellers acclimate to the livewell.
Gabriel said he spent much of the day tending to fish in his boat's livewell, doing his best to keep from taking a penalty.
The top place earned Hermiston's Gabriel and Coulee City's Osborne $3,362 while Knight and Hedden banked $1,905 and Terri Kutrowski and John Weisz earned $1,353 for third.
John and Jacob Grubenhoff jumped from 37th place into the money Sunday with an impressive 34.02-pound weigh-in. The difference, according to Jacob, was a change in tactics.
"We were trolling spinners all day yesterday, and today we went with the blade," he said. "First thing we brought two in so we knew it was working."
John, last year's Circuit Fisherman of the Year, said it was a relief to bring in such a nice weight after "stinking up the place" Saturday. The hefty 34.02 pounds single-handedly out-weighed 33 other teams' two-day total.
Claude Jones hooked the weekend's biggest walleye, a massive 12.70-pounder which beat the next-best catch by almost two pounds. He and teammate Dave Wolfe finished 36th, but picked up a $740 check for the beast.
The second fish got away, but the first one stood up as the biggest at the end of the day.
The win gives Gabriel and Osborne a commanding lead in the Circuit standings, with a best-possible 200 points headed into the second half. The next stop is the Camas Tournament in Camas, Wash., Aug. 2 and 3.