Good weekend on Shoal Lake

It was a busy weekend for anglers across Sunset Country who enjoy tournament competition with three events taking place.
The Kenora Walleye Open kept the walleye anglers busy while bass anglers had choices with both the Lake Despair “Castin’ For Cash” and Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic taking place.
Over the last several years I have fished all of these tournaments, they are all well run and all offer excellent fishing options. Some years they fall on different weekends but this year they all collided. I wish that we had more weekends in our summer so I could fish in all of them!
I chose to fish out at Shoal Lake with my pal Karl Engstrom because it’s close to home for me and I probably spend more time fishing on Shoal Lake than anywhere else.
It’s a beautiful lake to explore and it’s loaded with bass.
This tournament which is put on by the Shoal Lake #39 crew of Vern Fair and Randy Paishk has been taking place since the early 90’s, probably the longest running event in Northwest Ontario next to the KBI.
Since I spend so much time fishing on Shoal Lake I have high expectations when I fish in the tournaments out there, of which there are two every year, one in July and one in September.
Over the years my partners and I have had some good results and some tough tournaments as well.
The thing about having a lot of knowledge on a body of water is you know some good areas to fish but that can hurt you sometimes when the spots you really like are not happening, which is sometimes caused by changes in weather, water levels or fishing pressure.
My attitude when I fish out there is to fish for the biggest bass that we think we can catch and that often results in good finishes with the odd bad one mixed in.
This weekend things went our way as we managed to bring in back to back 17 pound plus catches to win the tournament. Our two-day total of 35.04 pounds consisted of seven smallmouths and three largemouths over the two days.
We didn’t catch a bunch of largemouths but we spent about a third of our time fishing for them and were rewarded with a few bigger fish.
Second place went to the team of Hayden Martin and Motei Demers who landed 32.18, while Chris Savage and Jeff Poperechney took third with 31.98. Logan Zimmerman and Amanda Keszler had big bass of the weekend, a smallmouth weighing 4.02 pounds.
It was another great weekend for all out on Shoal Lake.
Down at Lake Despair it was the International Falls team of Larry Foss and Joel Pagnac taking the win with a two day total on 30.32 pounds. Ryan McDowall and Mike Badiuk of Fort Frances took second with 29.54 while Gord Watson and Klyde Laplante finished third with 28.55 pounds.
Organizer Bill Godin said it was a great weekend for the tournament and that the fishing on Lake Despair was pretty good.
Meanwhile, there was a parade of giant walleyes brought across the scales at the Kenora Walleye Open on the weekend, taking place out of Tall Pines Marina.
The Dryden team of Brandon Kamm and Travis Tourond won the tournament with a two day total of 27.31 pounds.
These weights include one big walleye each day over 24 inches and three walleye under 18 inches.
Getting a big fish in the seven to ten pound range each day is part of the formula for winning this tournament.
Randy Lewis and Darin McWilliams of Brandon took second with 25.72 pounds while a pair of Lake of the Woods guides, Dean Howard and Dave Bennett made a big rally on day two to finish with a total of 25.49 to land third.
It looked like there were at least a couple dozen walleyes between eight and ten pounds brought in. Those are some big fish!
It is a quiet weekend on the tournament scene in Northwest Ontario this weekend but things get busy again next week with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship taking place on Rainy Lake while up at Lake of the Woods the Bronzeback Classic is hosting a full field.