Hectic tournament season ahead

As the reality of fishing in open water arrived last week, I think it’s safe to say those of us who like to fish were really excited.
For anglers who like to compete in tournaments around the region, there is extra motivation at the thought of a new season.
We have some of the best bass and walleye tournaments in North America right here in Sunset Country in terms of participation, payouts, and quality fishing, but it is a short season so it’s no wonder folks get excited.
For our two premier events, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship (July 23-25) and the Kenora Bass International (Aug. 6-8), the April 30 date to pay for and hold your Day 1 start position has come and gone.
Spots still remain available for both tournaments, and teams just will be added to the list as they sign up between now and the start of the events.
Registrations have been coming in really good at the KBI, which already has 100 teams signed up—about 25 ahead of this time last year.
The FFCBC, meanwhile, is at around 60 teams at this point but hopefully anglers will have a look at the awesome weights that teams have been bringing in at this tournament over the past couple of year—a testament to the top-notch smallmouth fishing on Rainy Lake.
I can’t say enough about the beauty of Rainy and the great smallmouth fishing that exists there. It is the best lake in Northwestern Ontario in my opinion.
New to the schedule this year is the Kenora Walleye Open, which is set to take place on the first weekend in July. Considering the fantastic walleye fishing on Lake of the Woods, this tournament has been a long time coming in my opinion.
It should be a fun weekend for everybody involved. My friend, Jay Samsal, and I signed up to fish together and we’re looking forward to it.
Though we fish together quite often, we have never fished a tournament together.
There has been some skepticism about this walleye tournament in terms of fish dying because walleye are not as hardy as bass are in a livewell. But the tournament is not going to allow anybody to weigh dead fish and stressed fish will be heavily-penalized, so it will be up to the anglers to take care of their fish.
The scales will be open at 9 a.m. each day so if a team catches a big fish, they immediately can bring it in and weigh it if they are concerned it might not survive all day in the livewell.
The format for this new walleye tournament is it is a two-day event where teams can weigh four fish per day, with one being over 23 inches in length and three can be under 18 inches.
Throughout the rest of summer, all of the events that have been taking place for the last several years are on the schedule again.
They include the Emo Walleye Classic (June 5-6), Dryden Walleye Masters (June 20-21), Lake Despair “Castin’ For Cash” (July 10-11), Shoal Lake Bass Classic (July 11-12), Bronzeback Classic (July 25-26), Atikokan Bass Classic (Aug. 14-15), Red Lake Fall Walleye Classic (Sept. 5-6), Bassin’ For Bucks in Sioux Narrows (Sept. 11-13), Shoal Lake Last Chance (Sept. 26-27), and the Whitefish Bay Bass Classic (Oct. 3-4).
These competitive fishing events are not for everyone, I understand that. But for many of us, we enjoy the camaraderie, the opportunity to fish different bodies of water, and to beat our buddies.
These events have a positive economic impact on the communities where they take place when you consider the money spent on rooms, gas, food, and fishing equipment.
Most of these tournaments are community-run events and put on entirely by volunteers, who put in a tireless number of hours throughout the year planning and preparing everything.
Any high school students looking to accumulate some community service hours in order to graduate should consider volunteering at some of these events over the summer because most of them always can use some extra help.