25 years of Bassin’ For Bucks

After the 25th edition of the annual Bassin’ For Bucks fishing tournament wrapped up on Sunday evening in Sioux Narrows I felt like I was starting to get old. The tournament started way back in 1996 and I have been fortunate to have fished every one. After a few anglers missed this year, the list of anglers who have fished them all is starting to thin out but the good news is, the tournament is still going strong today.  

If I remember correctly, I think there were 43 teams in that first event. My partner Mike Reid and I were 13 years old and we fished out of a 16 foot Lund boat with a 30 horsepower motor. We had a cooler for a livewell, a little portable depthfinder and we learned our way around the lake with a paper map.  

Thinking back to that first year, we were very green and didn’t really know much about bass fishing the Sioux Narrows area. After a tough first day where I think we only caught a few fish, we decided we would try for largemouth bass on day two. We ended up catching a bunch and the fire was lit for tournament fishing and largemouth fishing. Over the following years, we got a bigger boat, better equipment and our results started to improve.  

The best compliment of the tournament itself is that it is one of the only ones in the region that consistently fills its field with 120 teams every year. Teams must fish the Sioux Narrows area of the lake so there aren’t many secret spots left out there. The fishing can be tough but I think people really enjoy the community of Sioux Narrows, the great volunteers who organize the event and this beautiful part of Lake of the Woods.  

Being a smaller tourist town on the lake, the tournament was started as a way to help give some of the resorts and businesses around town an extra weekend of visitors later in the summer. Sioux Narrows has taken a hard blow over the past couple of years without all of the regular tourists visiting so the tournament certainly gives the town a little jolt that is badly needed. 

Like most of the other tournaments across the Sunset Country Region this summer, the weights of the fish this weekend were above average across the board. Jamie and Ashley Bruce won the three day tournament with a total weight of 55.15 pounds, averaging over 18 pounds per day.  

Darren Neniska and Clay Lajanesse were second with 54.56. Mike and I had a great tournament, landing third with 54.47 pounds. 

The Sioux Narrows area has the best population of largemouth bass on Lake of the Woods and there are often some big fish brought in to the scales.

Mike Reid, Jeff Gustafson (3rd), Ashley Bruce, Jamie Bruce (1st), Barb Salvador (tournament director), Clay Lajanesse, Darren Neniska (2nd) – Bassin’ For Bucks 2021

There were maybe a few less than normal this year but there were several five pounders caught as well as a 6.10 pound giant, caught by Blair Beasant and Gord McCool that was big fish of the tournament. Those six pounders are very rare, so it’s nice to see them brought in. We probably spent about a third of our time on the weekend fishing for largemouths and while we caught a bunch of them, we did not catch any big enough to make it back to the weigh-in.  

It was another great weekend in Sioux Narrows. Again, a great job by the tournament organizers and volunteers, they put on a great event that makes a lot of people happy! I hope I get to fish it for another 25 years!