‘Smallies’ the key for Bassin’ champs

Some 114 teams hit Lake of the Woods this past weekend to take part in the 16th-annual Bassin’ For Bucks tournament in Sioux Narrows.
This event is the favourite of many anglers across the region for a number of reasons—and this year didn’t disappoint.
People love the format, which rewards teams for daily catches as well as aggregate totals, they enjoy spending time in Sioux Narrows (one of the most laid-back communities anywhere), and the fishing usually is really good.
This year, everything ran smoothly. The only thing I think anybody could complain about was the weather, which was not perfect for the first few days of the weekend.
There were plenty of big bass caught over the weekend, but it was the veteran Winnipeg team of Alex Keszler and Wayne Wagner who took the top spot with a three-day total of 53.89 pounds.
They ended up squeaking out last year’s champs, Darrin Bohonis and Bryan Gustafson, by a narrow margin of .14 of a pound.
Keszler and Wagner are well-known in bass fishing circles around the region because they’ve been consistently successful in tournaments for many years. Well-known for focusing their time fishing in deeper water than most teams, it has paid off for these guys with two tournament wins at this event (they also won back in 2007).
Fishing out of a 20-foot Lund Pro-Guide tiller boat, they don’t even have a trolling motor on the front of their boat—one of the only teams in the tournament that could make this claim. They focus on looking for bass in deep water by using their electronics, then they use their big motor to sit on top of the fish and trigger them to strike.
Their method allowed them to be the most consistent team over three days, never bringing in a catch under 17 pounds.
My partner, Mike Reid, and I have fished this event together ever since it started 16 years ago. We were 13 years old that first year and fished out of a 16-foot Lund with a 30-h.p. motor. It’s been a highlight of the season for us many times over the years and we always have fun.
We finished third this year, so we had a good weekend. We just couldn’t adjust to the nicer weather we were faced with on Day 3 and came up a little bit short.
We actually had much better fishing the first two days in the high winds and cold weather. That’s just fishing—you never know how things are going to turn out.
The big bass of the weekend was brought in by the Kenora team of Gord Adams and Darryl Galusha, who were the leaders after Day 2 of the tournament and actually had the biggest fish on each of the first two days.
It was a 5.50-pound largemouth.
Taking home the top adult/youth team award was Luc Levesque and Hannah Mcleod of Fort Frances while the top couples’ team went to Ted and Louise Stewner of Winnipeg.
The biggest catch of the tournament was brought in on Day 1 and was the only limit to come in over 20 pounds. It weighed 20.09 pounds and was caught by the local team of Bryan McNanney and Matt Rydberg.
Though smallmouths were key to winning the tournament, largemouth factored into the catches of the rest of the teams in the top five.
The Sioux Narrows area of Lake of the Woods has the largest population of largemouths in the whole lake, so it’s not unusual to see them play a big role in the final results in all the tournaments there.
I’m back on the road this week, headed south for my last two FLW Tour bass events of 2012.
The first one is next week at Wheeler Lake, Ala., then I have two weeks off before the final tournament at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.