25th KBI in the books

When the Kenora Bass International tournament began back in 1988, I don’t think that Doug Bishop and the rest of his crew who started the event really pictured what the Harbourfront in Kenora would look like on the second weekend in August a quarter-century later.
I do know that they would be proud if they were there this past Saturday because it was quite a sight to see the new White Cap Pavilion Tent absolutely packed for the final weigh-in.
One of the biggest crowds the tournament has ever seen was on hand to watch Winnipeg anglers Aaron Wiebe and Peter Tully take home about $25,000 in prizes for their big catches of smallmouth bass over the weekend.
Wiebe and Tully flopped a whooping 52.61 pounds onto the scale, including the largest catch of 18.85 pounds on Day 3. Flying under the radar for the most part this weekend because they are a new team at the tournament, the duo increased their catches during each day of the event and pulled up winning what many consider the most competitive open tournament in Canada.
Wiebe fishes for a living (guiding, working promotional events, and filming Internet videos for all species of fish) so he spends significant time on the water. He has fished the SKBI before, but this was the first time in a few years.
For Tully, it was his first bass tournament.
My hat is off to these guys for doing their own thing—finding and catching the winning batch of fish.
For Chris Savage and I, it was a relatively tough weekend. After a pretty good run over the past few years, we struggled to catch the big largemouth bass we were targeting and had to turn to scrounging up whatever we could catch over the first two days of the event.
We ended up with an 18th-place finish, so we were happy that we squeaked into the prizes.
The highlight of the weekend for me was getting to see my dad, Jim, and brother, Ben, bring in the largest catch of the tournament on Day 2, which came in at 20.40 pounds.
In 25 years, this was only the second time a catch topping 20 pounds was brought to the scales.
In the end, however, they couldn’t hold off the monster catch that Wiebe and Tully brought in on Day 3 and they ended up second—a spot they also finished back in 2003. They had a great weekend and I’m proud of them.
Third place went to my good fishing buddies, Jess Swenson and Mike Reid from Sioux Narrows. They brought in a mixed bag of smallmouths and largemouths over the weekend for their second third-place finish in a row.
These guys are due to win the tournament one of these years; they have been top-five finishers too many times in recent years.
There were some monster fish brought to the scales this past weekend, but the big bass title has to go to the team of Jon Olson and Clay Lajunesse, who had the big bass of Day 1 and Day 2—both largemouths weighing in at 6.09 and 5.99 pounds, respectively.
I don’t know if I can ever recall one team winning the big bass award two days in a row!
The stories didn’t end there for Olson. One Day 3 while he was waiting for the weigh-in to start, he was sitting on the side of his boat dangling his foot in the water when it was attacked by a musky!
He said the 15- to 20-pound fish just came out of nowhere and latched onto his foot, which required stitches once the weigh-in wrapped up.
I sit on the Shaw KBI board along with fellow angler Greg Alcock as a tournament adviser. We attend the meetings throughout the year and that has given us the opportunity to get to know all the tournament directors who make this event happen year after year.
This tournament has such a top-notch group of directors and volunteers, and I’m truly proud of what a great job they did with everything this past weekend.
The tournament ran smoothly and was fun for everybody who was involved throughout the weekend. Thanks so much, gang!

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