Rainy site of fishing challenge

Over the past several years, I’ve been very fortunate to get the chance to appear on several high-profile TV fishing programs with hosts from across North America.
Bob Izumi, Jim Lindner, Chip Leer, and many other TV show hosts have visited Sunset Country during all seasons of the year to experience the great fishing options we have in this area.
In fact, few places on Earth can match the multi-species fishing options we have right here in our backyard.
This past week, I was invited to Rainy Lake to be a guest on “The Scott Martin Challenge.” Scott is the son of bass-fishing great Roland Martin, and he has created one of the top fishing shows in North America with a unique format that usually features some sort of friendly competition to make up the show.
Being from Florida, Scott had never fished on Rainy Lake before. He invited me to be on his team for this “Challenge” and our competition would be Austin Felix and Chris Burgan from the University of Minnesota.
They were the 2014 College Fishing National Champions—quite a feat because there literally are hundreds of bass anglers from across the U.S. vying for this title.
The rules for this show were simple—each team would have to catch the five biggest bass that they could, but Scott added a twist to the competition. The team that caught the largest pike or musky would get an extra pound added to their total.
Since it was very likely that we would catch a bunch of pike and maybe a musky, it made them a lot more relevant to the show.
We were lucky to have beautiful weather the day we shot the show last week—a bright sunny day with little wind. This is the best scenario for summer smallmouth fishing on Rainy Lake.
I love to fish shallow water and these bright, hot days are when the fish get much more active in that shallow water.
I think they like the warmer temperatures and I think the crayfish get out crawling around on the rocks a little bit more—something clearly gets these fish in the mood to bite on days like these.
We fished an area of Rainy Lake that I had never fished before. I was going on a hot tip from a couple of friends, but I was confident because the bay we picked had a lot of shallow water, which was the main thing I was looking for.
It didn’t take us long to get on some fish.
Our approach was pretty simple: Scott fished a topwater bait ahead of the boat while I followed behind with a tube jig. I was able to cast to all the visible boulders or fish that missed his topwater bait, and I even caught a few big fish that were following fish he had hooked.
We caught a bunch of big Rainy Lake smallmouths and our best five fish set a new personal best for me on that lake. Our competition caught them really well, too, using a technique not many anglers use on Rainy Lake.
All I can say it is was a very tight finish.
This show will air in January and is one you’re not going to want to miss. It was a great day of fishing, with some good banter throughout.
This week, the Sunset Country bass tournament circuit is in Sioux Narrows for the 18th-annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” showdown. Mike Reid and I have been fishing the tournament since it started back in 1996 and look forward to it every year.
A full field is registered for this year’s tournament, with weigh-ins starting at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday under the “Big Top” in downtown Sioux Narrows.