The bass tournament season is officially underway across Sunset Country as the Shoal Lake Bass Classic took place over the past weekend. As I mentioned in last week’s column, this tournament has been taking place the first weekend in July since the early 90’s and has been a weekend that a lot of anglers look forward to year after year.
Like many of the waterbodies in NW Ontario, Shoal Lake is just a fun place to fish. You can catch good numbers of fish throughout the lake, the water is beautiful and it’s always quiet out there. It’s one of my favourite places to launch a boat. As long as they continue to hold tournaments out there, I will be there!
Shoal Lake was never fully charted so it takes time to learn safe routes to get around out there. That probably stops a lot of people from fishing the lake but there will be some good maps available soon as Humminbird has been working on charting the lake. Deep down I’m kind of disappointed because I have spent a lot of time out there and can get around pretty good but it will be nice to have so many new fishing spots available with the new map. I can’t wait to see it – probably by next year.
It was as tight of finish as you can get in the tournament this weekend. Rob and Kris Rezsnoski of Winnipeg had a two day total of 33.02 pounds, edging out Dean Smith and Dean Tacknyk who finished with 33.00. They took home $9,000 for the win. Rob has fished the tournament out there for many years so it was good to see him win the trophy. The big bass of the weekend was a 4.54 pound largemouth bass caught by Chris Gasby and Brock Chambers.
Karl Engstom and I had a fun weekend of fishing but it seemed like we were plagued with medium sized bass and our two day total of 30.04 landed us in 12th place, just outside of the money. We probably caught more bass than we ever have during the tournament but no big ones. We split our time about evenly, fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The high water made it different out there, which I was looking forward to but it didn’t work out for us.
A big thank you to Bryce Kejick and his family for putting on the tournament and to the many sponsors who supported the event.
This weekend the action continues with a bass tournament at Lake Despair on Friday and Saturday, where they still have a few spots available. On the Lake of the Woods, the Kenora Walleye Open is taking place Saturday and Sunday.
I’m going to miss out on the action this weekend as I’m back on the road for my next Bassmaster tournament next week at the St. Lawrence River, out of Clayton, New York. This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve visited the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, which is possibly the top smallmouth fishery in the World. The numbers of fish are really good and the size is off the charts with five and six pound fish common every day. I’m excited to get out there and obviously hope to have a good event. I have a little more confidence getting to fish in these northern smallmouth tournaments where I think I have some advantage over some of the southern anglers who don’t have as much experience with that kind of fishing.
Good luck to all of the anglers competing this weekend and if you’re just heading out on the lake to relax and have some fun, I hope you catch a big fish!