Legends reign at Rainy Lake

It was a big weekend in Fort Frances as the community hosted the 25th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship last Thursday through Saturday.
The event, which has brought a lot of attention to Rainy Lake and its world-class smallmouth bass fishing over the years, is still going strong to the delight of anglers from all over North America.
I fished my first FFCBC back in 2000 and leading up to the event this year, I mentioned several times that many of my best memories from fishing and competing in tournaments have taken place during my week in Fort Frances for this event every year.
While I have seen a lot of friends and anglers come and go over the years, there is still a great group of anglers who compete year after year.
It’s this camaraderie that is one of the most appealing parts of the event for many of us.
My week was shorter than normal as I arrived in Fort Frances last Monday night, giving myself a couple of days to practice before the tournament. Normally I like to show up on Sunday, four days before the tournaments starts so that I can sample a couple of different areas of the lake before the competition begins.
I got married the weekend before the tournament so that delayed my arrival a little bit and it showed in our results as we landed a 26th place finish in the 100 boat field.
The prefishing is one of my favourite parts of coming to Rainy Lake because it’s so fun to explore this massive body of water. Rainy is not as big as Lake of the Woods, but it has more remote areas and it’s still a giant lake with plenty of good area to fish.
My partner, John Peterson, and I are fortunate to have won a few tournaments on Rainy Lake in the past so we spent much of our time in these areas of the lake since we did not find anything really solid during our short practice.
Having knowledge of a body of water like this can be valuable in some of these tournaments but it can hurt you too because you spend time fishing old memories that may not have fish around them anymore.
We caught plenty of bass but not the four-pounders you need to be competitive on Rainy Lake.
This year’s champions, Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman of Minnesota, won the tournament for a second time with a total three day weight of 53.60 pounds.
They edged another Minnesota team consisting of Lauren Ras and Chuck Olson who had a total of 52.37 pounds.
Raveling and Luhman also had the biggest single day catch of the weekend, a five fish limit that weighed 20.36 pounds.
The big bass of the weekend was a 5.81 pound monster caught by third-place finishers Tony Casareto and John Sandberg.
Over the past 20 years of the FFCBC, Raveling and Luhman have been the most successful team without question due their consistency.
They seldom miss finishing in the top ten and are always in the mix to win the event on the final day.
The rest of the field has a lot of respect for these guys. They also hold the all-time heaviest one-day weight record for the tournament, bringing in a 22.35 pound catch in 2002.
It was another great event in Fort Frances. Huge thank you to all of the volunteers and supporters who make this event happen year after year, the anglers all look forward it.
Up in Kenora, the Bronzeback Classic was won by the team of Dean Tacknyk and Ashlee Kolisnik with a two day total of 29.86 pounds.
Second place was earned by Gord and Amanda McCool with 29.54 pound while Tony Shirley and Monica Bromley finished third with 29.42 pounds. Talk about some tight weights.
Congratulations to all of the winners in these bass tournaments over the past weekend.