Remembering our fishing friends

There is a bond amongst those who we share time with in a boat or in the outdoors.
It might be with our parents or grandparents who get us out fishing as kids, friends we spend time learning how to fish with, or that person who we take many weekend adventures with over the years.
The bonds created by special moments or experiences are one of the special things about all outdoor activities for me.
Over the past 20 years that I’ve participated in bass tournaments here in Sunset Country, I’ve seen quite a few anglers come and go. Some fish these events for a few years, then maybe decide it isn’t for them.
Others, like myself, look forward to competing in these events every year.
Either way, friendships are created amongst nearly all of the anglers who regularly compete in these events.
There are not that many anglers still competing in most of these events that have been doing it since I started when my Dad took me in the KBI for the first time when I was 10 years old.
John Gibbons, from the Morson area on the south end of Lake of the Woods, was one of the guys who has been doing it since the early-’90s.
John passed away a couple of weeks ago after a tough battle with cancer over the past year. He was a great guy who will be remembered most for the fact he always had a smile on his face—and for having that knack for bringing a big largemouth bass through the KBI boat parade on the final day many times.
Though he never did win the tournament, he and his son, Jules, had a bunch of top 10 finishes over the years.
My heart really sank when I heard he had lost his battle because he really was one of those truly special, always happy people.
Earlier in the summer, Mike Baranowski of Nestor Falls passed away, who was another of the early participants in bass tournaments in our area.
He lived a pretty full life in the outdoors, working as a fishing guide in our area from the time he was a teenager until well into his 70s. He saw a lot of fish get caught on Lake of the Woods!
Mike saw the passion I had for fishing when I was really young and reached out to me with fishing and industry advice many times over the years.
He often was outspoken with his thoughts on many fishing-related topics, but he certainly put in his time on the water over the years so he deserved to have his opinions.
This past weekend, Kenora anglers Rick Savage and Bruce Berringer organized a one-day bass tournament on Shoal Lake for the second year in a row that they have named the Frank McClymont Memorial Tournament.
Frank was another of the bass-fishing pioneers in Northwestern Ontario and left us in August, 2012 with the legacy of being the only angler who had fished all of the KBI and Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship events.
That, and he was a great guy with a pretty big heart for everybody who shared his love of fishing.
Rick Savage fished many tournaments with Frank over the years, so he felt having a tournament on Shoal Lake—one of Frank’s favourite places to fish—was a great way to remember him.
The weather was not exactly ideal for bass fishing this past weekend but 14 teams showed up despite near freezing temperatures and a strong north wind.
Jay Samsal and Scott Dingwall continued their hot streak after winning the Shoal Lake Last Chance Tournament two weeks ago, bringing in a 19.46-pound bag of largemouths to the scale to seal the win.
Pat James and Scott Cook were second with 18.56 pounds of smallmouths.
Three-person teams were allowed for this event, so I teamed up with my neighbour and good buddy, Karl Engstrom, and my nephew, Dustin Hager. Our 18.04-pound catch landed us in third place.
Enjoy those special moments you share with your friends and family in the outdoors because life is short.
Here’s to all of our fishing friends, past and present.

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