Bass tournament season set to start

It’s that time of year again for bass anglers across Sunset Country—tournament time.
Although the bass season is open year-round, it is a catch-and-release season essentially until July 1, which is the reason there are no tournaments earlier in the year.
But from now through the end of September, there is tournament to fish somewhere in Northwestern Ontario almost every weekend.
There are a pair of two-day events taking place this weekend, with the annual “Castin’ For Cash” tournament at Lake Despair set to begin Friday and the Shoal Lake Bass Classic starting Saturday.
The Lake Despair tournament has taken place on the first weekend in July for the past couple of years, but organizers Bill and Nell Godin had some scheduling difficulties and were forced to push it a week later.
It’s a fun tournament every year. My wife, August, and I have fished it several times and we always have a great time.
In fact, she’s not very happy with me right now because I’m staying home to fish at Shoal Lake this weekend with my longtime partner there, Chris Savage, so we’re missing it this year.
Godin said water levels have dropped on this chain of lakes over the past week so getting around shouldn’t be a problem.
At Shoal Lake, anglers who have not yet registered can do so at the tournament site Saturday morning. The entry fee is $500 per team and the blast off is at 8 a.m. both days.
The high water out there certainly will change things up a little bit, along with the late winter and cooler water temperatures. Some bass probably are going to show up in places that anglers might not typically catch them.
Looking ahead, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship is only a few weeks away and we need some help from Mother Nature to drop the water level on Rainy Lake.
I have not been out there yet this year, but I’ve heard the reports from anglers on the lake and obviously have been following the news out of Fort Frances on the flooding there.
The fish reports I’ve heard have been good, at least. Hopefully, the water drops to the point where we can have a good event for the town.
Meanwhile, things are going smoothly for the Kenora Bass International organizing committee. It has made one significant change to the event this year, swapping out the traditional Team Canada/Team USA Challenge for a locals vs. visitors one instead.
There are fewer U.S. teams fishing the event than in the past and the reality is that the Canadian anglers have become much more competitive over the past decade, so the traditional format sort of lost some of its competitiveness.
Under the new format, the top five finishing local teams from the previous year will challenge the top five teams from out of town.
The final rules have not been totally drawn up yet, but the committee is thinking that local teams will consist of anglers from the Kenora area, to include Longbow Lake and Clearwater Bay.
Sioux Narrows’ anglers will be in the visitors’ category.
In the meantime, organizers are looking for a good name for the new challenge. If you can think of anything, maybe along the lines of Kenora vs. The World (which doesn’t seem all that original), post it on the KBI Facebook page.
Look for reports from Lake Despair and Shoal Lake next week.