Bass tournament season wraps up

The bass tournament season in Northwestern Ontario wrapped up over the weekend with the last few tournaments of 2018.
While the weather was not great, it’s a long winter for those of us who enjoy chasing bass and competing in tournaments, so we get in all of the events we can before the end of the season.
The annual Frank McClymont Memorial Tournament took place Saturday out of WSL Marina in Kenora. Some 39 teams participated so it was a great turnout considering the cold weather.
As I mentioned last week, Frank was a long-time participant in tournaments around the region and he had a lot of friends in the fishing community. He passed away in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
The reason so many people brave the cold weather to go fishing at this time of year is the bass fishing usually is pretty good. These fish don’t eat a lot during the winter so as the water temperatures start to drop, they know it’s time to start bulking up.
The reason for holding this tournament at the end of the year is because Frank loved to fish for bass in the fall.
As is always the case for this October tournament, it took some serious weight to win. I don’t recall the winning team ever having less than 20 pounds, which is always tough to do on Lake of the Woods.
This year, the duo of Jeff Engstrom and his girlfriend, Megan Park, of Kenora won the tournament against some stout competition with a five-fish limit weighing 20.50 pounds.
Their catch consisted of two smallmouths and three largmouths, one of which was the big bass of the day at 6.40 pounds.
For anybody unfamiliar with the size of bass, that is a monster! It’s the biggest fish I can recall being caught in a tournament in Northwestern Ontario this year.
Second place went to Alex and Darrell Keszler of Winnipeg with a limit of smallmouths weighing 20.06 pounds. They are some of the best at catching bass in deep water, where many of them are found at this time of year, and they had a great day.
They fish out of a 20-foot Lund tiller drive boat, which allows them to have excellent boat control while fishing deeper water. They would not be as successful as they are fishing out of a steering wheel-controlled boat.
There was a tie for third place between the teams of Jamie Bruce and Bryan McNanney and Terry McClymont and Tim Strempler. Both brought in 19.80 pounds.
I fished with my girlfriend, Shelby Larson, on Saturday and we finished seventh with 18.20 pounds. It was a good day of fishing on Lake of the Woods and we caught a bunch of fish.
In addition to a few dozen smallmouths, we caught caught several walleyes and pike while Shelby caught her first lake trout. The only downside to our day was that the top six earned prize money at this tournament so we just missed it but we still had a great time.
There has been a lot of bass tournament fishing going on for me over the past couple of months so for those of you who have more interest in other species, look forward to seeing more variety in this column in the coming weeks with some fishing tips for fall walleye, crappie, and musky, as well as some hunting content as the fishing season wraps up.
A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who put in large amounts of time to make all of the great fishing tournaments happen every year that we have across Sunset Country!