KBI week on Lake of the Woods

The 31st-annual Kenora Bass International bass tournament is set to take off in Kenora tomorrow (Aug. 8) with teams looking to capture 15 bass over the three day event in hopes of taking home the $20,000 first place prize.
The KBI is the original bass tournament in Northwest Ontario. Originally, the idea was to have a walleye tournament on Lake of the Woods but because there was a great bass population in the lake and walleyes are a lot tougher to keep alive through a weigh-in procedure the early organizers decided they would put on a bass tournament and the rest is history.
The KBI has been instrumental in promoting bass fishing on Lake of the Woods and across the Sunset Country region.
When I was a youngster, my parents got me signed up in the Kids KBI, a kid’s event that still goes on today, and that got me interested in the event at a young age.
I looked forward to the KBI weekend each summer and loved to watch the weigh-in in hopes of getting a look at the fish the anglers were bringing in.
For my tenth Christmas, my parents got me an entry for my dad and I to fish the KBI and my passion for competitive fishing was born.
Our goal that first year was to simply catch a few bass so we could cross the weigh-in stage and that’s what we did. We took some lumps the first few years of the tournament but we were forced to fish under a variety of conditions and we learned a lot.
Within a few years we became competitive and started to finish in the money.
Eventually, my dad started fishing the tournament with my younger brother Ben and I started fishing with my childhood friend Jess Swenson. Jess and I finished second in the 1999 tournament when we were 16 years old then the following year, Chris Savage and I won the tournament.
We won again in 2008 but we know more than anybody how hard the tournament is to win. There are a lot of competitive teams that fish the tournament every year and a lot of water to explore on Lake of the Woods.
My dad and brother have a pair of second place finishes in all their years fishing the tournament together.
Today, I have pursued a career in the fishing community that includes fishing professional bass tournaments in the U.S. that keep me busy throughout the year.
I’m missing this year’s KBI because I have back to back tournaments coming up over the next two weeks out in New York, at the St. Lawrence River, then Cayuga Lake.
It’s disappointing because I love this tournament, the friends it brings to Kenora every year and I really enjoy getting to explore Lake of the Woods in preparation for the tournament. Hopefully next year my schedule will allow me to compete.
As far as my predictions for this year’s KBI, you just never know on Lake of the Woods.
The last several years many of the winners and top ten finishers have been making long runs to the Morson area on the south end of the lake and that trend will likely kick out more good finishes this year but it’s a gamble to go that far.
There is a lot of big water to cross going all that way and the wind can alter the plans of those anglers.
The Sioux Narrows and Clearwater Bay areas have produced the tournament winning fish in the past and could certainly be a factor as well.
You just never know until the competition gets underway.
If you’re around the KBI this weekend be sure to thank any of the volunteers who work hard year round to make the tournament happen.
These people meet once or twice a month, it really is a big project.
If you’re an angler and you’re not happy about something related to the tournament, be kind to these people. They don’t get paid to help with the event, so be nice to them.
Even though I won’t be fishing, I’ll be following along each day.
I know many of the anglers fishing so I’m sure some of my friends will be in contention to win on the final day.
I’ll wish them all good luck and watch to see who wins.