Local bass tournaments back on schedule 

Local anglers who enjoy competing in our numerous bass tournaments across the region are happy to hear that most of the long running events are back on the schedule after some took a year off last year due to the pandemic. They are fun for those of us who participate and they bring some economic help to our region that is having a tough time right now without all of our American friends that visit hundreds of resorts across Sunset Country each season.  

For those that may not know, our bass season is open year round on most waters across the region but it is a catch and release only season for the most part until July 1, with exceptions for keeping smaller bass on some fisheries. So there are no tournaments until July, which protects the fish while they are spawning in May and June.  

The first bass tournament of the season took place this past weekend out at Shoal Lake. The Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic has been going on since the early 90’s and it is always well attended because it is such a great body of water. Shoal Lake is fairly remote, with clear water and an excellent population of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. I have fished this tournament since I was a teenager, it’s always a weekend that I look forward to. I missed it this year because I am out in New York for my last two Bassmaster Elite events of the season at Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. At the time of writing this, the final results were not known but we’ll follow up on that.

Jeff and Shelby Gustafson with some bass from the 2020 Shoal Lake Bass Classic. Tournaments around the region are popular with local anglers. – Submitted photo

Looking ahead, there are events to fish just about every weekend through early October, with pretty well all of the events that traditionally take place, back on the schedule. This weekend, Lake Despair Lodge is hosting their Castin’ For Cash tournament on July 9-10. They still have a few openings for anybody interested. It is another fun body of water to fish with an excellent population of smallmouth bass. Bill and Nell Godin always put on a good tournament up at Lake Despair, located about 30 minutes north of Devlin.

The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and the Kenora Bass International, the two biggest profile events in our region are both scheduled to take place in late July and early August respectively. Both events will be scaled back a little bit without the traditional big tents and parties that typically accompany the tournaments. For this year, they will have weigh-ins on the dock to satisfy social distancing obligations, as the other events are doing, but at least we are getting to fish. Both tournaments have had great early registration numbers with some spots still remaining in each. Both tournaments have more information available on their websites. 

The Bronzeback Classic is taking place in a few weeks in Kenora as well, but I heard that the field is already full for that tournament, which it always is. Later in September we have a good run of tournaments with Bassin’ For Bucks taking place in Sioux Narrows, September 10-11-12. The following weekend the Crow Lake Classic is taking place at Hanson’s Resort in Nestor Falls, September 18-19. After that the Shoal Lake Last Chance Tournament is back on out at Shoal Lake, September 25-26, followed by the Whitefish Bay Bass Classic, October 2-3.

A big thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers for making these events happen across the region, they make a lot of anglers happy. Good luck to everybody competing, I look forward to seeing everyone later in the season!