Sunset Country tournament season set to get underway

After nearly nine months, Sunset Country bass anglers finally get to compete in a tournament this coming weekend, following the opening of the catch and retain season for bass on July 1.
While we can fish for bass from ice out, through June, they must be immediately released in most lakes, with a few exceptions on some waters where a couple of smaller fish may be kept.
It is a good regulation to protect these fish while they spawn in May and June, when a lot of anglers choose to fish for them.
By now, most bass are spread out along the shoreline, where they can be caught with several techniques in a variety of depths.
There are a couple of tournaments going on this weekend across Northwest Ontario.
The Lake Despair Castin’ For Cash tournament is taking place Friday and Saturday out of Lake Despair Lodge.
This is always a fun event with some good fishing and great camaraderie around the lodge in the evenings.
Registrations will be taken up until Thursday evening.
As of early in the week, tournament organizer Bill Godin said there were still a few spots open.
The Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic is taking place Saturday and Sunday out at Shoal Lake.
This tournament has been going since the early 90’s and always gets a good turnout because of the good bass fishing out at Shoal Lake.
We don’t necessarily catch the biggest bass on Shoal Lake but the numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass are excellent.
Anglers can sign up for this tournament before the 8 am take-off on Saturday morning.
I have fished the Shoal Lake tournament every year except one since 1996 so it’s a weekend of the summer that I always look forward to.
It’s close to home for me and it’s where I spend a lot of my time fishing. It’s a beautiful, fun lake to explore.
I have had some great times at Lake Despair as well and would be fishing that event if they weren’t on conflicting weekends but it’s tough to squeeze in everything during our short summer.
The mayfly hatch seems to be in full swing out on Lake of the Woods so that should make for some really good topwater fishing this weekend. No matter what kind of weather we are faced with, most of the fish should be shallow.
We’ll be looking for largemouths in the shallow, weedy back waters and smallmouths should be easy to find around sand and boulder areas.
In addition to these two bass tournaments, there is also the Kenora Walleye Open going on out of WSL Marina in Kenora. This tournament on Lake of the Woods is entering its fifth year and always gets a good turnout as well.
This tournament is taking place Saturday and Sunday.
For those of us who enjoy fishing tournament competition, we have been looking forward to this weekend for a while because of the long winters we are faced with in this part of the world.
We are lucky to have so many great fishing opportunities on our lakes, it’s always fun to be out there.
These tournaments are a great excuse to be outside for the weekend, you learn a lot more about fishing because you are forced to be out there in all kinds of conditions and you’ll meet a bunch of great people.
Good luck to all the competitors out there this weekend.