Great finish to the tournament season

Of all the great things related to fishing that excite me, getting to fish and explore new water is at the top of the list. Especially when the fishing is really good. This past weekend my brother Ben and I teamed up to fish the 2nd Annual Whitedog Kickin’ Bass Fish Derby up on the English River/One Man Lake system north of Minaki. The fishing was incredible!

Having never been up to this section of the river before I went and spent three days prefishing before the two day tournament started. While it took me a few hours to find my first bass, the pike and walleyes were everywhere so I immediately started catching fish. Eventually by the afternoon of the first day out there I started to find some spots that were holding bass.

This is a massive body of water. Before I got up to launch my boat at Goshawk Lake, I had looked at a map of the area and it did no justice to how big this place actually was. There are several different lakes along the river and countless bays and arms. Since this system is not charted, getting around is a little more difficult. Roland Fisher, one of the tournament organizers took me for a little boat ride the first morning I arrived so I at least had a route to get to different parts of the lake. He also gave me and some of the other new anglers to the area a map with some travel routes on it. When I got off the tracks, I went slow and learned my way around. If you found a reef or hump, it was probably a good spot!

Ben Gustafson with a 5.13 pound smallmouth he caught this past weekend at One Man Lake. A five pound smallmouth is a true trophy in Northwest Ontario.

Heading into the tournament we had several areas that seemed to be holding bass, some deep and others shallow. Because of the warm weather it’s evident that a lot more fish were shallow than typically are this time of year. We mixed it up throughout the tournament and put together a couple of solid limits and we were very fortunate to win. My brother and I have fished several tournaments together in the past but this was our first win together.

The limits for this event are four fish per day, one less than the normal limit of five bass. On day one our four fish weighed 16.83 pounds, which included a 5.13 pound smallmouth that Ben caught – his personal best. A five pounder is tough to crack anywhere in Northwest Ontario so it was nice to see on a tournament day for sure! At the end of the day we were in second place behind Jason Kelly and Tim Skead, the defending champs who brought in 16.89.

On day two the fishing remained good but we were not able to catch any big kicker fish. We didn’t think we would have enough but our limit of 15.48 was enough to secure the win. Second place went to Alex and Darrell Keszler of Winnipeg, while Sean McAughey and Jayden Symonds of Kenora were third.

This place truly is an anglers paradise, with incredible fishing for smallmouth, pike and especially walleye. We caught walleyes of all sizes from four feet of water to 30 feet. I’m not sure my hands could have taken another day of handling all of the fish up there. They were pretty beat up!

Next year this tournament will take place on October 1 & 2 and my brother and I have plans to be there again. It was a great weekend. We camped with our buddies Sean and Jayden. It was a lot of fun. I had no cell service at all up there so it was nice to get a little break from that as well!

The landing at Goshawk Lake is about an hour and twenty minutes from Kenora so it’s not too bad of a drive. The road is great all the way to the ramp. I look forward to visiting this water next summer to see how good the fishing is then and learn my way around a little bit more. Thanks again to all of the organizers and the new friends we made over the weekend! It was a good way to wrap up the bass tournament season here in Sunset Country.