It was a busy weekend for tournament anglers across the Sunset Country region, with several events going on. The weather was beautiful and unseasonably warm over the weekend which was nice to see. I have fished these fall bass tournaments since I was a little kid and a lot of my memories of fishing these events involve long underwear, cold weather and big winds.
Down at Rainy Lake, the annual Labelle’s Fall Classic was well attended with over 40 teams competing. Dale Labelle and his crew at the camp started this tournament way back in 2001 and it’s been a popular event ever since. It used to be a two day event but several years back they changed it to a one day tournament with a three fish limit, which is different than the traditional five fish format.
Leroy and Mike Wilson won the tournament on Saturday with a total of 13.61 for three fish, including the tournament big fish of 4.99 so they cleaned up on the prizes. Second place went to Darrin and Kobi Ward, while Bryan Hughes and James Kaemingh took third. Rainy Lake has been really good this year with big weights in all of the tournaments out there. If you are able to get out there in the next few weeks, the fish will continue to group up and get bigger as they prepare for winter.
In Nestor Falls, the annual Musky Cup event took place on Lake of the Woods. This tournament has been around for ten years or so and has a loyal group of anglers that compete each year. It is the only musky tournament in the region and is a different format than the bass and walleye events that we have. Anglers video measurements then releases of their fish and can count the two biggest ones that they can each day of the two day tournament.
Mike Gate and John Garrett won the tournament with a total of 182” for four fish, including a 49.5” monster. Second place went to Dan Herbeck and Dale Barker with 174.5”, while Steve Hanson and Jamie Kruckoski were third with 165” for four muskies. A lot of nice fish were caught, the biggest of which was a 51” giant caught by Nick Schmutz and Mark Stevenson.
Out at Shoal Lake the annual Last Chance Fall Classic was won by Ian Waterer and Motei Demers. Stuart and Diane Neniska were second, after bringing in a monster limit on day two at almost 21 pounds. Jack and Darren Neniska were third and they had the big bass of the weekend, a 5.12 pound largemouth.
My pal Dennis Favreau and I have fished the tournament together for around twenty years so it’s always a fun weekend to get in the boat together. Because of busy lives we don’t get to fish together all that often anymore so it was nice to spend a few days together. I think that a lot of anglers can say that about fishing these tournaments that we have in Northwest Ontario. They are a great excuse for friends to get together to go and have a good time. We had two great days of fishing and ended up in 6th place.
Big thank you to all of the organizers of these events. All of the anglers are very appreciative of the hard work that goes into planning and making these tournaments happen. There are a couple more weekends of tournament fishing left before our long winter. This weekend, there will be a two day tournament at Whitefish Bay on Lake of the Woods Saturday and Sunday. Anglers can sign up in advance or at check in on Saturday morning.