A busy weekend for area bass anglers

It was a busy weekend for bass anglers across the Sunset Country region with two of the bigger events of the season taking place. In Fort Frances, the Canadian Bass Championship ran Thursday to Saturday on Rainy Lake and up in Kenora, another group of anglers fished the Bronzeback Classic, Saturday and Sunday on Lake of the Woods. 

I first fished the FFCBC way back in 2000. At the time, the tournament had a full field of 135 anglers, with another 50 or more teams on a waiting list. The fishing on Rainy Lake was really good, the tournament was new and anglers traveled from all over North America to compete. Gas was a little cheaper back then, making it a lot easier to travel to fish.  

My partner and I got into the tournament that first year at the last minute because another team dropped out so we showed up, practiced for a day and fished the tournament. Things went pretty well, we ended up in the money and I was forever hooked on Rainy Lake. 

Some of the best times of my life have taken place in Fort Frances during the week of the bass tournament and I’ve made a lot of good friends there over the years. The tournament is supported very well by the community, in terms of both volunteer help and the huge crowds that show up for the daily weigh-ins, especially on the final day. Thank you, Fort Frances.  

Since 2007 I have fished the tournament with my friend John Peterson. He is from Bemidji, Minnesota and is the founder of Northland Fishing Tackle, a prominent fishing brand in the Midwest and Canada. He was one of the first people to sponsor me in my fishing activities and has been a mentor throughout my career. Getting to spend a few days in the boat with him to fish the tournament is always a good time.  

Ali Crandall shows off part of her and Ben Gustafson’s winning catch from the Bronzeback Classic on Lake of the Woods over the weekend.

We had a great tournament this year, eventually ending up in second place. There is some disappointment when you are that close to winning, especially because we held the lead heading into the final day but we fished well and have no regrets. Like Lake of the Woods, the water on Rainy Lake is high. Our strategy was to fish shallow and focus on a lot of the new cover that is now available for bass to hide. We used spinnerbaits and topwater lures predominately to cover this shallow water and it nearly worked to perfection. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capture a couple of the big fish on the final day that we did over the first couple of days. Still it was a fun weekend.  

Congratulations to Ian Waterer and Motei Demers on the win. Their three day total of 57.63 bested our total of 56.81. The father and son team of Travis and Jace Peterson were third with 55.24.   

At the Bronzeback Classic on Lake of the Woods, I’m proud to say that my brother Ben Gustafson and his girlfriend Ali Crandall won the tournament with a two day total of 32.84. Trevor Guderyan and Holden Dent were second with 31.77, while Ryan and Dawson Lentz were third with 31.75. This tournament requires that one member of each team is either a female or an angler under 18. It is a popular format with area anglers as over 100 teams signed up. 
Congratulations to all of the anglers who were winners over the weekend and another big thank you to all of the volunteers who make these great events possible that we have across the region.