Musing whether the ‘big fella’ shows up this weekend

Reuben Villagracia
A Reuben With A View

It’s upon us, people, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship—the biggest sporting event in the district.

Yes, that includes hockey.

Like any sport, there’s so many interesting storylines attached to it. How will the bigger names do? Is there a dark horse among us? What role will Mother Nature play?

And, of course, will “Bobber the Basscot” catch on with the kids?

That’s all nice and good but when I think fishing, I think “General Sherman.”

I’ve lost you, haven’t I? Don’t you remember that episode of “The Simpsons?”

If you’re older than 25, probably not. It was the one when Homer and Marge went out to a church retreat on Catfish Lake to work on their marriage. But Homer was drawn to the prospects of catching “General Sherman,” supposedly the biggest catfish to roam Springfield waters.

The best bits of the episode involved the bait shop owner who was as poetic as he was an exaggerator.

Shop owner: “General Sherman? They say he’s 500 pounds of bottom-dwelling fury, don’t you know. No one knows how old he is, but if you ask me, and most people do, he’s 100 if he’s a day.”

(Another great scene: Reverend Lovejoy offering Homer advice on marriage—“We must bait our hooks with honesty. That way, a happy marriage won’t be the one that . . . got away.”)But I digress.

What I want to know is if there’s a smallmouth bass equivalent to “General Sherman” in Rainy Lake?

The FFCBC record is 5.94 pounds, caught by Denny Nelson and Dave Smith back in 1998. The unofficial overall record is one by Randy Kirk during pre-fishing several years ago that tipped the scales at just over the six-pound mark.

“The biggest I’ve heard is close to seven pounds,” said Dave Lindsay (Team #34), a co-winner of the FFCBC in 1995 and 1997. “One time, we ran into a school and the smallest one weighed just under five pounds so that biggie is definitely out there.”

“I’d think sooner or later, someone will bring in a seven-pounder,” echoed FFCBC competitor Rick Socholotuk (Team #129). “With the structure and the food base, I can’t see any reason why there can’t be some.”

While such a mammoth fish would dramatically improve any team’s chance at winning this thing, coming across one may not be the best approach.

“A seven-pounder might be a loner so you’re better off getting a school of four and five-pounders [during the derby],” reasoned Rob Plumridge (Team #89), who caught a six-pounder four years ago in the south arm of Rainy Lake.

If someone catches “General Sherman” this weekend, that should be victory enough. You see, I’m more of what you’d call a “hopeful pessimist.”

I’d like to see a team strut out there after Day One tomorrow with “General Sherman,” make the front page of the Daily Bulletin on Friday, and take a whopping lead heading into the final two days.

And then get skunked the rest of the way.

Local resident Dave Matiece achieved a personal best time at the Thunder Bay Triathlon on Saturday. The 41-year-old finished second in the 40-44 division, and fifth overall, with a time of 2:06.10 in the 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike ride, and 10-km run event at Boulevard Lake.

Fellow Fort Frances resident Bob Tkachuk participated in a duathlon (40-km bike and 10-km run) and finished in a time of 3:07.50 in the 45-49 division.

“First time I’ve tried it,” said Tkachuk. “The transition from just running was tough, but I got through it.”

A local contingent next will head out to Thunder Bay for a 10-km race Aug. 17.

Local spiker Justin Addison played with the Region 1 boys’ volleyball team at the Ontario Summer Games in Kitchener last week. Unfortunately, the team failed to crack the medal round.

A trio of local players participated in the final week of the ‘AAA’ hockey challenge in Brandon, Man. over the weekend.

Sarah Barton was held scoreless in her six games with the under-19 female Northern Hawks, who went 2-3 in round-robin play before losing to the Eastmen Wolves in the ‘A’ semi-finals.

Kristen Roehrig got an assist in her six games with the under-15 Hawks. They went 1-4 before losing to the Northern Alberta Selects in the ‘A’ semi-finals.

And Joe Basaraba, playing on the ’92 boys’ Hawks team, scored two goals in five games but they finished out of the medal round.

There’s still 11 spots available for the BOOM sailing school set to begin on Sand Bay here next Monday. The five-day camp will teach beginners the ins and outs of sailing.

Cost is $170 for first child and $160 for each additional one. Call Megan Ross at 274-4561 for more info.