Busy weekend for tournament anglers

The local fishing tournament scene got cranked up this past weekend with the Kenora Walleye Open and the Shoal Lake Bass Classic, both taking place Saturday and Sunday. When the dates have worked out, I have fished both tournaments in the past but if they happen to overlap, I’m a bass angler at heart.

The Shoal Lake tournament is one of the longest running in the region. It was started in the early ’90s and is still popular with area anglers. I fished it for the first time when I was 13 years old, in 1996. It has always been one of my favourite places to fish and whenever they have a tournament, I’m going to be there.

While it was a tough tournament out there this time around for my friend Karl Engstrom and I, we had a great time, as we always do. We had mediocre 14-pound limits each day, landing us in the middle of the pack. Having fished out there a lot over the years and having had a lot of good tournaments, sometimes all of the knowledge and memories can hurt you on tournament day. It’s good to know good spots but the best tournament anglers have an open mind and make decisions based on the conditions. We were trying to catch the biggest bass that we could and it just didn’t happen for us this time.

A big congratulations to tournament winners, Stuart and Diane Neniska, who won with a two-day total of 33.20 pounds. This couple has fished tournaments around the region for years and this was their first win together so that was awesome to see. They are one of the most consistent teams that compete in tournaments around northwestern Ontario and seldom miss finishing in the money. They have finished second at Shoal Lake multiple times so it was definitely their turn.

Second place went to Jayden Symonds and Hayden Martin, who reeled in 33.10 pounds, followed by a three-way tie for third between the teams of Blake Lundin/Brennen Dubchak, Coel/Paul Forsythe and Mason Peters/Dave Lira, who all brought 32.40 pounds to the scales. It was a close finish at the top. Big thanks to Bryce Kejick and his family for keeping the tournament going out there.

On Lake of the Woods, the Kenora Walleye Open was fished by around 100 teams. Brett Robinson and Sebastien Despatie took home the first place prize with a two day total of 32.50 pounds. The four-fish limit in this tournament consist of one big walleye and three under 18 inches. There is some strategy in that you need a big fish as well as three good slot fish, close to the 18” line. In this event the big fish were impressive, with the top teams bringing in 30” class fish. Those are ten-pound walleyes!

Stuart and Diane Neniska with the first place trophy from the Shoal Lake bass tournament over the weekend. – Submitted photo

The tournament has a unique format in that the big fish are measured and released on the water, with the measurements converted to a weight. The under 18” fish are brought in to be weighed. It’s a great way to do it because the large walleye don’t love being in a livewell.

Second place went to Ian Waterer and Motei Demers, who caught 31.12. Third place belonged to Blair Dingwall and Dylan Smith with 30.18, while Jamie Bruce and Lyndon Dewson had 30.17 for fourth.

Thanks to the organizers of all of the tournaments around the region, there are a lot of anglers who enjoy the fishing and competition. They are the highlight of the summer for many of us!