Bass Tournament on Shoal Lake

One of my favourite fishing locations on earth is Shoal Lake. Located west of Kenora along the Manitoba border, Shoal Lake is connected to Lake of the Woods via Ash Rapids. It’s a big body of water, with parts on the main basin that you can’t see across. It’s remote, with only a handful of cottages scattered around the lake and the Shoal Lake 39 and 40 First Nation communities.
Growing up, my family had a summer cabin on Echo Bay on the west arm of Lake of the Woods. By land we were only a few minutes drive from the cabin to the Clytie Bay boat landing on the north end of the Shoal Lake so we fished out there a lot. The lake is not charted like Lake of the Woods but we fished all over the lake, going slow through areas we didn’t know and learning our way around.
In the early 90’s, Shoal Lake 39 started an annual bass tournament in early July that became known as the Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic. I fished it for the first time in 1996 I think, with our neighbour at the cabin, Harley Hanson. He had a bass boat and used to take me fishing all the time when I was a kid. As a family, Harley and his wife Myrna were those neighbours that we were really lucky to have.
They also have a fall tournament out at Shoal Lake every September. I have fished in all of these events over the years, missing only a few because of obligations to some of the tournaments in the U.S. I love the lake. The fishing is really good, it’s quiet and scenic. We even saw a young bull moose out there on Saturday while we were fishing. It’s a great lake for hosting bass tournaments because it’s big, and you can still find little hidden gem fishing spots because the lake doesn’t have a map showing where all of the structure is.
Earlier this spring, the organizers of the annual tournament cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 situation, which was the right call. A few weeks back one of my friends from Shoal Lake, Bryce Kejick, graduated high school. Because of everything going on right now he was unable to go through the normal celebration of this achievement. Bryce loves bass fishing and his family decided to organize a one day bass tournament on Shoal Lake.
There ended up being a good turnout, a show of how much local anglers enjoy fishing Shoal Lake. Bryce’s family ended up donating money for the big bass prize at the tournament on top of entry fee money that was collected. The prize for big fish on the day ended up being $3,400! That is the biggest prize for biggest bass in a tournament that I have ever heard of!
My wife Shelby and I fished together and had a great day. It was nice to get some relief from the sun with all of the clouds on Saturday. It was really pleasant to be on the lake. The fishing was good and we ended up with a 17 pound limit that included four largemouth bass and one smallmouth, earning us a second place finish. Shelby was the MVP of our team, landing three of the five fish that we brought to the scales. Congratulations to the tournament winners Logan Zimmerman and Amanda Keszler. They also won the big bass prize with a 4.08 pound smallmouth so it was a good day for them!
Thank you again to all of the tournament organizers out at Shoal Lake.