This is always one of my favourite weeks of the year. The first week in July is significant because bass tournament season is here. It’s no secret that I live for fishing these events. Big or small, I love the competition and I really enjoy the camaraderie with all the anglers and volunteers at these events. July is going to be a busy month for me as I’m fishing tournaments four weekends in a row starting this weekend at Lake Despair in the annual Castin’ For Cash event. Put on by Bill and Nell Godin at their resort on the lake. This is always a fun one because a lot of the anglers stay at the resort and we share some laughs at night. This fishing is usually pretty good as well. What I like about this chain of lakes is it has a ton of water to explore, with all the little back bays and things on it. There are some big fish as well. Whoever wins will run into a couple of four-pound smallmouths. My girlfriend August and I won this tournament last year but I will have a new partner this year. She is spending the weekend with her sister in Winnipeg so I’m sharing the boat with my buddy Caleb Colwell from Green Bay, Wisconsin. On the second weekend in July (14-15), we have the Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic, which has been going on for over 20 years. This lake has a top-notch bass population and it is a great body of water to have a tournament on because you can catch fish so many different ways. I have been fishing on Shoal Lake quite a bit in recent weeks and the fishing has been really good out there. The fish do not average quite as big as Rainy Lake but the numbers here are off the charts. Anglers that have not signed up yet can sign up for this event the morning of the first day. They have changed the payout format for this event slightly by offering up several daily prizes as well as aggregate prizes. Chris Savage and I will be fishing this one together again, which we have done since 2000. The third weekend in July (21-22) will put area anglers on Lake of the Woods for the annual Bronzeback Tournament. This is a smallmouth-bass only tournament that runs out of Kenora. Usually this event runs the same weekend as the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship but organizers switched the dates and are running it a week earlier. August and I are teaming up for this one and really look forward to it. Anytime you get to fish a tournament on Lake of the Woods you get excited because it’s such a fun place to fish. As well, this tournament is sold out with a full field of 100 teams. For the 18th year the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship will take place the last week of July (26-27-28). This is one of the premier events in North America on one of the best lakes to have a tournament on in the entire country. Rainy Lake is also home to some giant smallmouth bass. Anglers were faced with some tough weather conditions during the tournament last year after a week of beautiful weather during the pre-fishing period but many teams saw that there are still a bunch of big bass in Rainy Lake. This event is one of the highlights of the entire year for me and many other anglers across the region because of the way that the community supports the event and makes all the out of town anglers feel so welcome. John Peterson, the founder of Northland Fishing Tackle and I are fishing the tournament together for the sixth time this year. There are still spots open for this year’s tournament and entry forms can be found on the tournament website. Thanks to all the hard work of Gord Watson and his team of directors, the tournament is in a much healthier state economically than it was a few years ago and is boasting a 98 percent payout in 2012! Over the next month look for my reports from each of these respective tournaments. If you are considering entering any of the Sunset Country tournaments this year, I will guarantee that you’ll have a good time.