The final Bassmaster Elite Series event of the nine tournament season took place this past weekend out of Waddington, New York on the St. Lawrence River. The river has been a regular stop on the schedule for several years to spotlight the phenomenal smallmouth fishery found there and it showed out once again this past week.
Coming into the event I was just inside the cut to make the 2022 Bassmaster Classic but not comfortably. I still had to catch some fish to stay ahead of the cutline. Things did not go smoothly the first day of the event. Some lost fish and a few spots that let me down lead to some big time stress throughout the day. Fortunately I caught a pair of big fish with minutes left to salvage the day.
It was much of the same on day two but I caught enough to make the day three cut and essentially punch my ticket for the Classic. With the pressure off on day three, I caught a limit over 21 pounds and moved up to finish the tournament in 18th place. It was a good way to finish off the season. The tournament was eventually won by Japanese angler Takumi Ito, who is in his second year fishing the Elite Series. He is a fun guy with a lot of personality, I was really happy to see him win. Now that the season is over I’m excited to finally get home for the rest of the year and enjoy some of our summer around Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake.
After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship is set to take place Thursday through Saturday on Rainy Lake. While the tournament will be without the week full of the extra-curricular activities that typically occur with the event, the anglers are happy that a fishing tournament is going to take place.
The tournament, which started in 1995 is one of the premier team bass tournaments in North America in terms of participation, payouts and prestige, with anglers coming from many states and provinces to compete over the years. We will be without our American friends this year but hopefully by next year they will be able to return and join us.
For 2021, the entry free has been reduced from $800 to $500 and as of early in the week there were over 100 teams signed up to compete. Rainy Lake is a special smallmouth fishery with bigger fish than most lakes across the region. I fished my first FFCBC back in 2000 and have not missed one since. Over there years there were a few tough tournaments and some good ones, it’s definitely a week that I look forward to every year.
Obviously, I love being on the lake. I have a soft spot for Lake of the Woods because it’s home but the thing that I like about Rainy is that is slightly more remote and it’s not nearly as busy. You can get into parts of the lake and not see another boat. I’ve also made so many good friends over the years fishing the tournament, many of them I only see the week of the event. Finally, many of my best memories growing up happened the week of the FFCBC, in the town of Fort Frances and under the big tent.
Another tournament, the Bronzeback Classic is going on this weekend in Kenora, with a full field of 120 teams hitting the water Saturday and Sunday. Good luck to all the anglers competing across Sunset Country.