Big Bass Weekend in Sunset Country

While I was driving to Alabama on Saturday for my upcoming Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Guntersville, a bunch of my friends back home were making me jealous, catching some monster Sunset Country bass. Several tournaments took place across the region over the weekend, on Shoal Lake, Lake of the Woods, Rainy River and Rainy Lake.
On Saturday, at the Crawford’s Camp Mega-Bowl, John O’Connor and Michelle Richard brought in a bag of smallmouths weighing 22.70 to lead after day one. Jamie Bruce and Rob Perrier also cracked the 22 pound mark with 22.22. These are some of the biggest limits of smallmouths I can ever remember seeing on Lake of the Woods. We have seen several limits of five largemouths in the mid-20 pound range in the past but not smallmouths.
After hearing that news, my pal Oliver Gibbons from Morson informed me that he and his brother Jason fished a small bass tournament in Rainy River and caught a limit of smallmouths weighing 24.80 pounds. That is one of the biggest limits I have ever heard of from Lake of the Woods and definitely the biggest consisting of all smallmouths. Impressive stuff!
At the LaBelle’s Fall Classic on Saturday, Bill Godin and Greg Swire won with a three fish limit weighing 14.28 pounds. Bill told me that they released a few others over four pounds so they would have been in the 22 pound plus range under the five fish format. Rainy has always had a little bit bigger smallmouths than Lake of the Woods so their catch is not that surprising. Matt Goldamer and Alyssa Vanderaa had the big fish of the tournament and across the region with a 5.62 pound smallmouth. That is a true giant, bigger than any smallmouth I’ve ever caught in Sunset Country.
Hearing about all of these big fish really had me missing home and competing in these fun fall tournaments where the fishing is so good. It was certainly tough to get motivated to leave because they weather has been so nice and I just really enjoy this time of year around home. Since I made it down to Alabama I’m excited for the tournaments we have coming up over the next few weeks.
The 20 pound limits continued on Sunday at the Shoal Lake Last Chance tournament that was won by Mark Libitka and Bart Stebnitsky with a two day total of 39.18 pounds. There were a bunch of big limits caught at Shoal Lake which appears to be really coming back after a bit of a down turn over the past few years.
At the Mega Bowl in Sioux Narrows, John O’Connor and Michelle Richard prevailed at the end of day two with a total weight of 42.24 pounds for ten bass. O’Connor, the defending KBI champion is tough to beat on Lake of the Woods right now.
Finally, not to be overlooked, the Nestor Falls Musky Cup took place over the weekend on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Teams could measure two muskies per day and the total inches determined the winner. Thatcher Haggberg and Dave Bonke from Nestor Falls caught their two muskies each day for a total of 174 inches to get the win. The big musky of the weekend was caught by Damien Stang and Jenna Jarvis, coming in at 50 inches. That would be fun!
Congratulations to all of the tournament winners this past weekend. It’s tough to win any of these tournaments in our area because there are so many talented anglers. Our Bassmaster tournament down in Alabama starts Wednesday and wraps up on Saturday. It’s still pretty hot down here and the fishing is not easy but I’m ready to grind it out and try to get out of here with a decent finish.