Long-time FFCBC ‘bridesmaids’ finally come through

Anglers from all over North America converged on Rainy Lake last week for the 18th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship presented by Sunset Country Ford.
And as is usually the case at this premier fishing tournament, everything went great throughout the entire weekend.
When everything was said and done Saturday afternoon, it was the American duo of Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman who stood atop the leaderboard.
Raveling and Luhman, fishing the event for the 16th time, have three second-place finishes on their résumé, as well as several other top-fives, so they were well overdue to finally lift the championship trophy.
Raveling and Luhman led the tournament from Day 1 when they brought 19.73 pounds to the scales. Their 17.49 pounds on Day 2 increased their lead to about two pounds heading into the final day.
Their 17.84 pounds on Saturday gave them a total of 55.06 pounds. Runners-up Chad Johnson and John Janousek, from Minnesota, had a three-day total of 51.83 pounds, in large part to the biggest catch on Day 3 of 18.88 pounds.
John Peterson and I, meanwhile, finished third for the third time in the past four years. We caught some really nice fish over the course of the weekend and were happy with our end result.
We fished an area in the south arm of Rainy Lake that did not seem to have huge numbers of fish, but we were confident that we were in an area that held a lot of big fish and we stuck it out there each day.
We weighed in 12 big fish over the weekend and three small ones, which hurt us a bit in the end.
Overall, the fishing on Rainy Lake was pretty good last week. We had some of the best topwater fishing that we have seen there in years and weighed in about half of our fish over the weekend on Rapala X-Rap Prop baits.
The rest of our fish came on small finesse baits like hair jigs and Northland Impulse Leeches.
The way I like to approach Rainy Lake is to cover as much water as possible and look for active, biting fish every day. Our topwater baits worked well for accomplishing this.
One thing about smallmouth bass is that if they want to bite, they’ll often show themselves pretty quick.
Over the weekend, I don’t think we caught two fish off of the same spot, so we really had to keep moving and looking to find and catch fish.
Round out the top five were the local teams of Jim Sandelovich and Karl Howells, who finished fourth, and Ted and Leo Heyens in fifth.
Under the new format at this tournament, teams that were not ranked in the top 15 after two days of fishing start from scratch on Day 3 in Division II and Division III.
Winning Division II was the Minnesota team of Steve and Scott Sandberg, who brought 17.46 pounds to scales. The Division III champs were the team of Jamie Bruce and Bryan Gustafson, who caught a solid limit of 16.19 pounds.
The big bass of the weekend was caught by the tournament champs—Raveling and Luhman—on Day 2, which weighed in at 5.25 pounds.
On behalf of all the anglers, I want to send out a huge thank you to all the directors and volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort to make this tournament a success year after year.
We all look forward to fishing Rainy Lake and spending the week in Fort Frances. For myself, this week is the highlight of the summer every year and I’m sure many other anglers feel the same way!
Great job once again, Fort Frances!