Five contenders to win

To paraphrase what fellow sports reporter and my good friend, Kristian Jack, wrote once in the lead-up to an English Premier Season, I often struggling knowing what is going to happen tomorrow.
But for some reason, I will attempt to try and predict who will capture first place in this year’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
There’s a few guarantees that those who come to the event on a yearly basis have come to expect. For one thing, the atmosphere should be great on the final day of weigh-ins, especially since the tournament has brought that experience back under the tent at the waterfront after it was held in the Memorial Sports Centre the last three years.
Plus, you can expect the tales (some of them to be rather tall) to be flowing after each of the tournament days among anglers and spectators alike once the weigh-ins are done.
In the end, though, all that anyone will remember in the years to come will be whose name will be on the FFCBC trophy, which currently is sitting just to the left of me here at my desk at the Fort Frances Times office.
I’ll admit that picking a winner for a tournament often is a crapshoot, but I have come up with a list of five possible victors for the 19th edition of this event.
5). Bryan Gustafson/Jamie Bruce
This is more along the lines of momentum when it comes to anything else, but Gustafson and Bruce are coming off a win at the “Castin’ for Cash” tournament hosted by Lake Despair Lodge earlier this month.
In the past couple of years, the pair has had some rotten luck out on Rainy Lake, but I feel that could be a thing of the past this time around.
Plus, as Gustafson himself said following his triumph at Lake Despair, he’s 1-for-1 with his new Legend Alpha 211 boat that he just picked up.
4). Joe Thrun/Jim Moynagh
With five tournament titles to their name, it’s hard not to bet against this long-time tandem of finishing atop the podium. However, the last couple of years have been a bit different from the norm for the kings of the FFCBC.
After winning three tournaments in a row, the duo came up short in their quest of a fourth-straight title in 2010 as they only caught three fish on the final day to drop from second to 19th in the standings.
Due to a conflict in Moynagh’s FLW schedule, he was unable to fish the FFCBC in 2011 while Thrun teamed up with Ben Miller for a ninth-place showing.
The pair then reunited last July but finished well out of the running—coming in sixth place in the Division III flight.
That result was a stunner to many, but I don’t think these two anglers will be anywhere near that spot in the standings come this year.
3). Mark Raveling/Mike Luhman
Not only are this long-time pair the defending champions of the FFCBC, they also have been one of the most consistent threats to win the tournament since they came up here for the first time back in 1997.
After finishing in 89th place in their inaugural tournament together, the pair has picked up seven top-10 finishes, including a trifecta of second-place results in 1998, 2002, and 2010, not to mention a third-place result behind co-champs Richard Rud/Jon Austin and Trevor Zimak/Glenn Leroux two years ago.
Plus, they also hold the record for the biggest one-day total weight in FFCBC history with a monster 22.28-pound bag in 2002.
Those stats alone make this team a tough one to beat. And since they’ve finally won the tournament, that lack of pressure on their shoulders might make them even stronger.
2). Jeff Gustafson/John Peterson
Since Raveling and Luhman took home the title last year, the moniker of the best team yet to win the FFCBC now might belong to this Can-Am connection.
Gustafson, who is from Kenora, has teamed up with Peterson, who lives in Bemidji, Mn., since 2007—and they haven’t finished outside of the top five since 2009.
During that time, they have nagged three third-place results in 2009, 2010, and 2012, so it’s only a matter of time until they put their name on the FFCBC trophy.
1). A team no one is suspecting
Now I know that you, as a reader, must be thinking that this is the biggest cop-out you’ve seen in quite some time. However, I do have a rhyme and reason to this selection.
In recent years, more and more teams that end up making a big impact on the final standings weren’t even in the top 10 the year before.
For example, 2011 co-champs Glenn Leroux and Trevor Zimak came home in 17th place back in 2010 while last year’s runner-ups, Chad Johnson and John Janousek, finished in 19th position 12 months earlier.
If you look at this year’s entry list, you probably can draw a team name out of hat from those who finished outside of the top 10 in 2012 and you would have a realistic chance of picking the winner.
As I stated earlier, it really is a guess as to who will win a tournament such as this, especially when conditions can change from day to day.
So to have an unknown team come in and surprise everyone isn’t really as far-fetched as one might think.