Special weekend on Rainy Lake

The 19th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship took place this past weekend on Rainy Lake and it turned out to be a very special event for my partner, John Peterson, and I.
Thanks to a really good Day 3 catch of 20.35 pounds, we were able to win the tournament after competing together for the past seven years.
Along with the Kenora Bass International, the FFCBC is one of the most prestigious bass tournaments in Canada. Although the tournament now sports a smaller field than it did in its heyday in the early 2000s, it still is a very competitive event—one that is never easy to win.
After several top-five finishes in recent years, we really were starting to feel some pressure to win this event. We talk about it frequently all year round and put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the three tournament days—not unlike other teams but we just felt like if we figured things out heading into the event, we really had to capitalize on the opportunity.
We had a great start to the tournament, catching 19.17 pounds on Day 1 to take the early lead. The weather was pretty nice the first day and we caught our fish on topwater lures, particularly the Jackall SK Grande popper.
When the wind picked up on Day 2, however, it threw a wrench into our pattern and we struggled to catch a good limit weighing 15.90 pounds. Though we had a much lesser weight than we did on Day 1, we only slipped to fourth place and were within a pound of the lead.
We felt like we had a chance heading into the final day, which is all you can ask for in a three-day event.
The leaders after two days were my good friends, Jay Samsal and Troy Norman. We actually were sharing a small area on Rainy Lake that was particularly hot, especially for big fish.
We both had caught several fish from this area over the first two days, and we both started our day there on the final morning of the event.
Luck was on our side as we pulled up to the spot that we wanted to start on and quickly caught three big smallmouths in the four-pound range. Though it took a while to round out our limit thanks to some lost fish, we finally did manage to put five big bass in the boat before making the rough ride back to Fort Frances on Saturday afternoon in the high winds that had Rainy Lake riled up.
We were lucky on the third day because the school of fish that we ran into could have been on the spot that Jay and Troy started on, or they could have started fishing where we did. If they had, it would have been them that won the tournament.
They found these fish, as well, and knew they were in the area, so they deserve some credit, as well.
Jay and Troy ended up with a solid third-place finish on the weekend while second went to the local team of Ryan Hyatt and Karl Wolff, who had three really good days.
Winning the FFCBC means a lot to me. To do it with my friend, John, makes it special because he has played a significant part in my fishing career over the years. As founder and president of Northland Fishing Tackle, he also has been a long-time sponsor of mine.
I started fishing the FFCBC in 2000 and since that time, it has become an important part of my life. Over the years I have met so many great friends because of this event—other anglers who fish the tournament and local people in Fort Frances.
It’s always one of the highlights of the entire summer for me.
A huge thank you to all the volunteers that make this top-notch event go year after year. The anglers definitely appreciate it! A special thank you to outgoing chairman Gord Watson, who really helped to revive the tournament a few years ago and has gotten it back on track to its past glory.
After fishing a tournament each of the past five weekends, its nice to have a little downtime before the Sunset Country bass tournament circuit gets going again next week with the KBI taking place Aug. 8-10 on Lake of the Woods.