Stewners win Shoal Lake again

The annual Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic took place over the weekend and it was a pair of familiar names which landed atop the leaderboard after two days of fishing.
Winnipeg anglers Ted and Louise Stewner brought 10 bass to scales that weighed in at 33.64 pounds for their second win at Shoal Lake since 2010, which earned them about $6,000.
Just like other tournaments that take place across Sunset Country, teams bring in five bass each day at this event. At the end of two days of fishing, the weights are added together to determine the winner.
I’ve had a few people ask me lately how they determine a winner at the tournaments that take place throughout the summer.
The fish are placed in livewells in the boat, brought in alive, weighed, and then are released back into the lake. There is very little mortality at these tournaments, so they have little impact on the fisheries.
At Shoal Lake, the catches were down a little from recent years—likely due to the late spring. The bass just finished spawning a couple of weeks ago, so they still are recovering from that process.
As the summer goes on, fish will pack on a little more weight to prepare for the long winter.
Chris Savage and I fished the tournament together for the 14th year in a row and we had our worst finish in quite a few years, landing in 19th place. We spend a lot of time fishing on Shoal Lake, so we were disappointed to say the least.
We spent a lot of our time fishing for largemouth bass, which tend to average a little better in size, but couldn’t figure things out over the weekend.
We caught 14-pound limits each day and ended up about a pound out of 12th spot, which earned the last cheque.
After a mediocre tournament the previous weekend at Lake Despair, I’m riding a little bit of a slump, which I’m hoping to shake at the Bronzeback Classic coming up this weekend in Kenora, which I’m fishing with my fiancée, August Collinson.
Kenora anglers Jay Samsal and Scott Dingwall, meanwhile, finished second for the second year in a row at Shoal Lake—thanks to the big catch of the tournament on the second day coming in at 17.46 pounds.
Their two-day total was 32.42 pounds. They managed to put a few big largemouths in the boat late on Day 2 fishing in really shallow water.
Dingwall won the Bronzeback tournament along with his dad last year, so look for him to continue the hot streak this weekend.
Another Kenora team, Jack and Darren Neniska, finished third at Shoal Lake with 31.52 pounds. Their Day 2 catch included the big bass of the tournament—a largemouth weighing 4.72 pounds.
The Shoal Lake 39 folks have organized this tournament for more than 20 years on what many anglers feel is the best bass fishery we have in Sunset Country, so a big thanks to them for keeping it going for all the anglers, especially Vernon Fair and Randy Paishk, who not only did all the organizing but also managed an eighth-place finish.
It is a beautiful lake that we all love to spend time fishing on.
Meanwhile, the field is full for the Bronzeback Classic this coming weekend in Kenora, with weigh-ins beginning each day (Saturday/Sunday) at 3 p.m. at the docks in front of Duncan Carmichael Reality.
I’m staying busy fishing tournaments through July and I’m having fun.
After the Bronzeback is finished on Sunday, I’ll be hitting the road to get ready for the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship next week.

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