Bassin’ for Bucks

Back in 1996, my good friend Mike Reid and I were 13 years old when we decided we would team up for the first annual Bassin’ For Bucks in Sioux Narrows. Sioux Narrows anglers Mel Giesbrecht and Chris Bell were some of the top tournament anglers in NW Ontario at the time and they decided that the fishing was good enough around Sioux Narrows that they could have a successful tournament. We fished out of a 14 foot Lund with a 25 horsepower motor that first year and had a cooler for a livewell.
24 years later, thanks to excellent leadership from Barb Salvador and Debbie Ducharme as well as a whole bunch of volunteers over the years, the tournament always fills up its 120 boat field and keeps the anglers coming back to Sioux Narrows year after year. The event is a good boost to the economy in Sioux Narrows, essentially providing one more busy weekend at the end of the summer. It was especially helpful for the folks in Sioux Narrows this year because of COVID-19 restricting Americans from visiting this year.
The weather for the tournament this year was pretty good. There was a little bit of wind but overall the temperatures were nice and we stayed dry. Fishing was pretty good overall as well. It took over a three pound average to make the top 20 and finish in the money. The same weight to finish fifth last year would have landed you in 30th place this year. I think that less fishing pressure this year in that part of the lake and some consistent weather over the past week had the most influence on the better fishing.
The local team of Brian McNanney and Matt Rydberg won the tournament with a total weight of 54.10 pounds over three days, averaging over 18 pounds per day. They have won a bunch of tournaments on Lake of the Woods over the years so it was no surprise to see them land in the top spot. The seldom miss finishing near the top of the standings in any tournament on the lake and always set the bar high for everybody else.
The father and son team of Paul and Coel Forsythe took a close second with 53.57 pounds while Jamie Bruce and Rob Perrier took third with 52.57. The top three teams weighed in all smallmouths which was somewhat surprising because the Sioux Narrows area has some good largemouth fishing. There were a few big largemouths caught over the first couple of days but it wasn’t until the last day that we got to see a really big catch when my Dad and brother (Jim and Ben Gustafson) brought in the biggest limit of the tournament weighing 22.15 pounds to jump from the middle of the pack to finish in sixth place. They also had the big fish of the tournament included there, a largemouth weighing 5.90 pounds. I was really happy to see them have such an amazing day. That was one of the biggest limits in the history of the tournament and the biggest in several years.
Mike and I had a pretty good weekend, ending up in fourth place. We had nice fish every day just missed finding a couple of big ones to get us over the hump. We weighed a pair of nice largemouths the first day, otherwise all of our fish were smallmouths despite spending about half of our time each day fishing for largemouths. 
A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who implemented all of the safety measures required to make the tournament happen, the anglers are grateful! Next year will be the 25th anniversary of Bassin’ For Bucks and the organizers have some big plans in the works. I already can’t wait!