Expect the unexpected at FFCBC

For those who have read my column on a regular basis over the last year-and-a-half, you may have noticed my predictions on certain sporting events have been lacklustre at best.
Back in March, for instance, I picked the Miami Marlins to win the World Series this year—and that choice currently is looking worse and worse by the day.
However, like a blind squirrel finding a nut, one of my theories actually comes true on occasion. Such as my prediction a month ago that Tiger Woods would be all of the talk leading up to the British Open while someone else who was ignored by the general public (in this case, Ernie Els) would end up hoisting the claret jug.
So, like an aging prize-fighter who has no idea of when to quit, I’m putting my prognostication hat on in trying to break down the 2012 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, which gets underway bright and early tomorrow morning.
When glancing at this year’s field, which stood at 95 teams as of press time last night, there a number of duo who stand out as ones who possibly could lift the tournament trophy come late Saturday afternoon at the Ice For Kids Arena.
You have those teams that have won in the past, such as five-time champs Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh or 2010 winners Dorian Lindholm and Bill Wilcox.
And you have those that seemingly are always up in the top 10, like Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman, or Jeff Gustafson and John Peterson.
Plus, you can’t forget about the local anglers who are competing, like Darren Ward (who has teamed up with long-time friend Tony Holenko of International Falls this year) or Bryan Gustafson and his partner, Jamie Bruce, of Kenora.
However, without actually choosing a certain team by name so as they aren’t jinxed, I think this year’s winner will be someone no one is talking about.
Sure, if you are always a front-running team over the years, the advantages of having a strong showing during the FFCBC will run in your favour.
But the sport of fishing often is one where you need a bit of luck in order to succeed, which is what happened last year.
On their way to finishing in a first-place tie with the International Falls tandem of Jon Austin and Richard Rud, the Thunder Bay duo of Glenn Leroux and Trevor Zimak encountered steering issues with their boat on the final day of the tournament.
After catching their final fish shortly after the issue was discovered, the pair decided to pack it in early and head back to the Sorting Gap Marina since they had no idea if they would be able to make it back in time due to the rough conditions on Rainy Lake that day.
In the end, though, Leroux and Zimak were able to make it back in time, with their 17.71-pound haul helping them to share the FFCBC crown.
So while it may be in your better interests to take a more “well-known” pair of anglers if you are having a friendly wager this weekend over the tournament, you might be in better shape if you take a team no one is looking at.
The only thing I will say in the form of a prediction, though, is that I hope an all-local team will be among the top 10 boats to come into the Ice For Kids Arena for the final weigh-in on Saturday, with the chance to be the first all-Fort Frances duo to capture the FFCBC title since Steve and Kent Ballan achieved that feat back in 2001.
Last year, Darren Ward and Sean Good led after the first two days of the tournament and were the favourites among those at the Ice For Kids Arena when they weighed in, which made for a great atmosphere.
And for an event that may not be in the forefront of as many people’s minds as it was during its heyday, an all-local team winning certainly would generate a lot of interest for the future.

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