Kenora’s Bruce doing well in Bassmaster Opens

One of the top competitive anglers from Northwest Ontario has been spending some time south of the border this year in an attempt to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series. Jamie Bruce, of Kenora, is one of my good friends and he has been having a solid season fishing the Bassmaster Opens.

To qualify for the Elite Series, anglers must fish a nine-event tournament season that takes them all over the United States. Points are earned based on the finish at each tournament and the top ten in points get an invite to join the Elite Series the following year. It is one of the most difficult things to do in the sport because there are 175 anglers vying for one of those ten spots.

Through five events, Bruce finds himself in 14th place in the points, very impressive considering it is only his first full season fishing in the U.S., at all new bodies of water that he has never seen before. He got into a couple of Bassmaster Opens last year and did well, going all in this year.

It’s no surprise to anyone in our part of the World that he is having success. He is one of the top performers in tournaments across Sunset Country over the past ten years, in both bass and walleye tournaments. He is one of the best anglers that I have shared the boat with and he deserves to be out there taking that shot.

This past weekend at Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma he reeled off his best finish of the season, ending up in 13th place. It was tough fishing and brutal hot weather, so again, impressive. There are four events left over the summer and into the fall, with the next one being a smallmouth tournament at the St. Lawrence River in July where I’m sure he will have a great tournament. Later in September and October he will make stops in Florida, Tennessee and Missouri to finish off the season.

Each tournament has had over 225 anglers competing so the fields are massive in these Opens. The competition is stout with a mix of young, up and coming anglers, some seasoned veterans from other circuits and each event usually has a number of local anglers competing as well. The entry fees are $1,800 USD per tournament and the payout only goes down to the top 40 anglers in each event, it’s a tough road.

Jamie has anglers from all over the north country pulling for him so hopefully he can finish the season strong down there and get on the Elite Series next year. Again, it won’t surprise anybody from around here.

The Dryden Walleye Masters tournament took place this past weekend on Wabigoon Lake and what a walleye fishery that is. For the second year in a row, Scott Abraham and Frank Lombardo won the tournament. They had a two day total of 42.66 pounds for eight fish. Four of their fish were over 24”, while the other four were under 18”, as per tournament rules. Their big fish on day one, an 11.64 pound walleye was big fish of the tournament. Looking down the leaderboard, the weights are very impressive, with a lot of big fish caught.

I have fished this tournament in the past but it had been over ten years since the last time I fished on Wabigoon. Last week I spent a day fishing out there with Scott Dingwall and we had a great day, landing a couple of big fish pushing 30” as well as a number of nice walleye. It was fun and if my schedule allows next year, I want to get in on this one for sure. Scott and partner Jay Samsal ended up finishing third, while Jeff and Blair Dingwall took second.

Jamie Bruce with a nice bass from Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma, where he finished 13th in the Bassmaster Open this past weekend. – Submitted photo