‘River Rats’ win Falls tourney

The 12th-annual International Falls Bass Championship took place over the weekend on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River—and another successful event is in the books.
A full field of 60 teams showed up again this year to participate in the event, and several tournament records were set by eventual winners Nathan Brigham and Brett Meyers of Emo.
This tournament has a unique format in that anglers spend one day fishing on Rainy Lake and one day on the Rainy River—two totally different bodies of water.
A big change was made by tournament organizers this year, allowing anglers to fish the entire south arm of Rainy Lake, including Canadian waters, which is something that had not been allowed in the past.
Allowing teams to fish Canadian waters opened up a lot more area to fish and some significantly-better fishing water than is available on the U.S. side. As a result, not surprisingly, a few records were broken.
At the rules meeting the night before the tournament, there is a coin toss between the first- and second-place teams from the year before—with the winner choosing which body of water they will fish on Day 1.
The loser starts on the opposite water—meaning all of the even-numbered teams are together on one body and the odd-numbered teams go to the other.
I’ve said for years that the bass fishing on Rainy Lake is much better on nice sunny, warm days and the weather report heading into the tournament called for great weather on Friday for Day 1 of the tournament and not-so-nice weather on Day 2.
Scott Dingwall and I have fished the tournament together since it started back in 2005 and we really wanted to get on the lake on Day 1. Unfortunately, we ended up drawing the river.
We had a great day on the river and brought in 14.39 pounds—good enough for second place in our group.
When the boats from the lake started to weigh in, however, a parade of big catches were brought to the scales, including the new one-day record catch of 20.54 pounds by Brigham and Meyers.
It ended up taking more than 17 pounds to make the top 15 after Day 1 on the lake.
We were optimistic heading out on the lake on Day 2, but were greeted with strong winds, cooler temperatures, and overcast skies that seemed to hamper the bite somewhat.
We managed to catch a solid limit weighing 16.52 pounds, which was good for the day. But we were too far behind all of the teams that brought in more than 18 pounds on Day 1 to make a real run at it.
Brigham and Meyers, meanwhile, slammed the door on Day 2 when they brought in 15.50 pounds off the river—the day’s biggest catch again—to win the tournament for the second time.
Growing up in Emo, they know the river very well and always are one of the most dangerous teams out there.
Second place went to the team of Travis and Craig Peterson from Bemidji, Mn. while third went to the local team of Leroy Wilson and Larry Keep.
Scott and I ended up fourth overall so it was a good tournament in the end.
This also was the first year this event did a Team Canada/Team USA side challenge, with the top three teams from the previous year participating.
Scott and I made the team, along with Brigham and Meyers and Darrin Ward and Gord Watson from Fort Frances. We ended up winning a cool belt and bragging rights for the year over Team USA, so that was great!
This event is very well-supported by the community of International Falls. There always are great crowds at all of the events throughout the weekend and this year was no different.
They know how to put on a great bass tournament.