Fall has arrived in Sunset Country

One of the reasons for the busy bass tournament schedule across Northwest Ontario in September is because the fishing is so good. It’s also a short season and there are only so many weekends to host events before the weather really turns. This past weekend there were tournaments at Shoal Lake, Rainy Lake and over at the Floodwaters in Atikokan.

I have fished bass tournaments out at Shoal Lake since I was 12 or 13 years old. My Dad and I started fishing the derbies out there when we were just learning how to catch bass and we always loved it because the fishing was always so good. I can remember the first good day that we ever had in a tournament was out there and we fished out of a 14 foot Lund with a 25 horse motor and a cooler for a live well. We didn’t care what boat we fished out of, we just wanted to be out there.

Shoal Lake still remains one of my favourite places to fish because of the excellent fishing, it’s big with new water to explore on every trip and I have always enjoyed the fact that it was never charted so you could find places to fish that weren’t easy for everybody else to find. More mapping of the lake is becoming available every year so it makes it easier for everybody to get out there but a lot of our good spots over the years are now seen on the mapping.

For over 20 years I have fished this Shoal Lake Last Chance tournament with my buddy Dennis Favreau. It’s always a fun weekend and usually one of the only times all year that we get to share the boat together. We had a great weekend, ending up with a second place finish. We had an excellent first day, catching a limit of largemouth bass over 20 pounds to take the lead but the big fish evaded us on day two and we were only able to bring 16 pounds to the scales. The strong winds on Sunday made it tough on just about everybody.

The winners this weekend at Shoal Lake were Logan Zimmerman and Amanda Keszler. They had mixed bags of largemouth and smallmouth bass weighing 19 and 20 pounds to dominate the field of 37 teams. Third place went to Ian Waterer and Motei Demers. The big bass of the weekend was a 5.16 pound largemouth caught by Wayne Holmstrom and Kendrick Penace.

Over in Atikokan, Jody and Tanya Loew caught a monster limit weighing 25.78 to win a one day tournament on Sunday. I have never fished the Floodwaters before but it is obviously one of the best smallmouth fisheries we have in the Sunset Country region when you consider the giant smallmouths that are constantly brought in over there. The big fish was a 5.79 pound fish.

At the Labelle’s Fall Classic on Rainy Lake, Jason Cain and Dan Tucker won with a three fish limit weighing 13.78 pounds. They have won the tournament several times in recent years. The big fish came from the second place finishers, Matt and Alyssa Goldamer who had 13.70. The big fish was a 5.42 pound smallmouth. Third place went to Brandon Kamm and Devin Stromness who had 13.65. Tight finish at Rainy Lake.
The bass tournament season is winding down but there are still a few more events to go. This coming weekend, there are tournaments at Whitefish Bay in Sioux Narrows and Whitedog, on the English River system. My brother and I are headed north to Whitedog this weekend where we had a lot of fun last year and are looking forward to getting back up there for a few days this week.

The summer weather appears to be finished but the long range forecast still looks pretty good for the foreseeable future. Some of the best fishing of the year for all species happens over the next few weeks so take advantage of those nice days and get out there a few more times.

Logan Zimmerman and Amanda Keszler hold up part of their winning catch from Shoal Lake this past weekend. – Submitted photo