It’s ‘Bass Week’ on Rainy Lake!

The 23rd-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship is set to kick off tomorrow morning (July 20) on Rainy Lake and almost 100 boats are expected to blast off from the Sorting Gap Marina.
This is always a special week for me and one that I look forward to every year. I started fishing the tournament back in 2000 and have had several partners over the years. But since 2007, I have partnered up with my friend, John Peterson, from Bemidji, Mn.
When I first started fishing the FFCBC, it attracted a full field of 135 teams and for a few years had more than 100 people on a waiting list to get in–it was unbelievable! The crowds that attended the weigh-ins were incredible and it was like a week-long party down at the tent.
It was amazing, really, how this small town supported the event the way that it did.
Today, the tournament is not quite at the same level it was a decade ago, but it still is one of the premier bass tournaments in North America when you consider the field size, the prize payouts, and all of the activities that take place down at the Sorting Gap Marina.
The crowds for the evening activities and the final day weigh-in still are top-notch, as well.
The event is fun for me for many reasons. I’ve made a lot of friends in Fort Frances over the years as a result of fishing this tournament, as well as friendships with anglers from all over North America who have travelled to Rainy Lake to fish the tournament.
The party down at the tent on Saturday night probably is the night I look forward to most all year (many of the anglers stay out and everybody has a great time).
The main reason most anglers, myself included, keep coming back for this event is because of the lake. Rainy is about a quarter the size of Lake of the Woods but it still is a big body of water with plenty of room for anglers to spread out.
While the smallmouth fishing can be fickle at times, the lake is loaded with big bass and it always takes limits of big fish to win the FFCBC.
Finally, the lake has a lot remote areas to explore, with pine-covered shorelines, hundreds of beaches, and rock reefs that can be found everywhere.
After coming close several times, John and I finally put a perfect tournament together back in 2013 and won the tournament, then squeaked out the victory again in 2014 by a narrow margin over my good friends, Bryan Gustafson and Brandon McMillan.
The past couple of years have not gone that well for us, so we are working hard this week to try to make another run at winning.
It is a very competitive tournament with a bunch of good teams participating, so it will be exciting to see how things play out.
Through a couple days of pre-fishing, the fish seem to biting okay. But I expect things to pick up as we go through the weekend and the water continues to warm.
One thing I can promise is that there is going to be some big bags of fish dropped on the scale all three days. Twenty-pound catches are weighed in at this tournament every year, which is as good as it gets in Northwestern Ontario.
Up in Kenora, meanwhile, the Bronzeback Classic is taking place this Saturday and Sunday on Lake of the Woods. This event has a full field of 110 teams hitting the water and a fun weekend is in store for many.
The weigh-ins for this event start at 3 p.m. each day at Tall Pines Marina.
If you are interested in participating in one of these tournaments, I encourage you to go and check out the weigh-ins and see what they are all about. Feel free to ask any of the anglers any questions you might have as they all will be more than willing to point you in the right direction.
Good luck to all of the anglers competing on Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods this week!