Tough weekend on Rainy Lake

The 21st-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship took place this past weekend on Rainy Lake and at the end of three days of fishing, Minnesota brothers Scott and Steve Sandberg emerged as the new champs.
After a variety of weather moved through the area in the days leading up to the tournament, conditions ended up being pretty good during the actual event. It seemed as the though the bass we were trying to catch missed the memo on that, though, because the fishing was tough in our boat this year.
Over the past two years at this tournament, my partner, John Peterson, and I have had a lot of things go our way and we were fortunate to become defending champs.
Heading into this year’s tournament, we knew how hard it would be to win again. But we had high expectations because our confidence fishing on Rainy Lake was very high.
We each spent about three-and-a-half days practising, using two boats over the first few days to try to cover as much water as we could in search of the best areas on the lake to catch big smallmouth bass.
Fishing was very tough for me the first day, but things got better as the tournament grew closer so I was very optimistic. John also had found some good stuff, so we were happy with the plan that we had and we felt like we were ready when the tournament started last Thursday morning.
One thing about fishing, though, is that you just never know what is going to happen out on the water. And after our first few stops produced nothing but a few pike and small bass, we were left to scramble the rest of the day to catch five bass to bring to the scales.
Our catch of 14.80 pounds on Day 1 left us in 40th place—not exactly where we wanted to be. Alas, things got worse on Day 2 and we slipped to 50th place.
Part of the problem for us was that we had too many good memories from previous years and this year was different. So on Day 3, we fished a new part of the lake that we had never been to before.
We caught a bunch of fish and a little bit better weight to end up in 38th place overall (full results can be found on the tournament website at
The best story I heard over the weekend came from John’s brother, Duane Peterson, and nephew, Travis Peterson. They hooked a two-and-a-half pound bass the day before the event and it quickly was snatched up by a large musky.
They ended up landing the musky because it would not let go of the bass, which was pretty interesting. It actually was never hooked.
Up in Kenora, meanwhile, my good friends, Jamie Bruce, and his fiancée, Ashley Haines, won the Bronzeback Classic on Lake of the Woods.
They spend a lot of time on the water fishing for bass and anything else they can catch, so I was happy to see that they won. They certainly earned it!
Many thanks to all of the volunteers who put in the time to make these events happen every year; they are the highlight of the summer for those of us who like to compete in these tournaments.
They also contribute some positive economic impact to our communities.
Next up on the schedule is the Kenora Bass International next week—taking place at the Whitecap Pavilion on the Harbourfront.
There still are a few spots left for any teams still considering signing up.