Tournaments develop friendships

The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship came to an exciting conclusion early Saturday evening.
The finalists kept exchanging the “hot seats” as the crowd wound up from the blare of music and the showmanship of the anglers.
I had not volunteered for the tournament in several years, but had kept up an ongoing relationship with the anglers by visiting them at the various motels that housed them from year to year.
My job this year was to direct the anglers first thing in the morning as they parked their vehicles in the old wood yard. Arriving shortly before 5 a.m. on Thursday, Rolly Roy was waiting at the ramp to launch his boat.
Throughout the morning, until the last boat was in the water one-and-a-half hours later, I was surprised by how many anglers still recognized me and called me by my first name.
I guess over time that they have become friends as we have talked on and off about fishing tactics on and off the water.
Once the anglers were through the gates, Stan Blasky, Brian Angus, and “Kenno” Christiansen had the trucks and trailers all neatly parked. Terry Ogden and Larry Patrick, meanwhile, ferried the anglers from their parked vehicle back down to the dock, which allowed the anglers to talk about their previous day’s fishing.
In the afternoon, a different crew brought the fishermen from the dock up to their trucks and trailers.
Just the simple transfer of the fishermen is all about creating personal connections. Talking to those who live outside the region, and who have been fishing the FFCBC for almost two decades, it is the personal connections that they make here in Fort Frances that keeps bringing them back year after year.
And during the weigh-ins and again on Saturday night, locals help make the anglers feel special by asking questions and sharing stories.
Long-time relationships have been built up and many of the out-of-town fishermen now stay with local friends that they’ve made through the tournament over the years.
Personal friendships are developed at all the tournaments in the region.
Bill and Nellie Godin go the extra mile to welcome anglers to their “Castin’ For Cash” bass tournament on Lake Despair, as do the Emo and Rainy River walleye tournaments.
The whole community of Sioux Narrows comes out to host anglers at its annual “Bassin’ For Bucks.”
The tournaments might be considered highly-competitive events but they also all have a large family component. And the hosts of the tournaments make the anglers part of their extended family.
Each community ends up sharing in the camaraderie of fishing—and each community looks forward to welcoming the anglers back to fish again.

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