101 short films about the FFCBC

During my university student newspaper days (it was only a year ago) in Ottawa, I had the chance to cover the hometown Carleton Ravens at the men’s university basketball championships in Halifax.
“Blanket this thing. Leave nothing uncovered,” suggested my first sports editor upon leaving.
We ended up squeezing three stories out of it. I had more great tidbits and side stories to share but there just wasn’t enough room in the paper.
So here I am 16 months later. Ravens have turned to small-mouth bass, Halifax is Fort Frances and there’s plenty of room in this week’s paper.
I toss to you the proverbial blanket . . .
Story #4–The McClymonts bit by Kid/Pro bug
I hate to play party-pooper right off the bat but it should be stated that, unfortunately, my prognostication of the Kid/Pro champions’ success (or lack thereof) in the big derby came true again.
“I guess we caught all our fish at the Kid/Pro. There was nothing left,” said Winnipeg’s Terry McClymont after he and his dad, Frank, finished 83rd overall –six days after guiding Ryan Wood to the Kid/Pro crown Sunday.
On a bright note, for the third-straight year, a Kid/Pro team won the whole thing.
Still, upon winning with Wood, Terry told me they realized the “hex” but didn’t want to think about not performing up to snuff when it counted.
“If we don’t make top 30, Terry’s swimming home,” Frank joked.
Hope you didn’t catch cold, Terry.
Story #21–“My kingdom for free Fuji stuff, and Lund and Labatt’s t-shirts!”
Sponsorship is the lifeblood of any successful tournament. Clearly those “Overkill” Labatt’s shirts were a hit with anglers and fans alike. And how great was it for Lund-sponsored teams to force the crowd to scream “Lund boats kick bass!” for a free–you guessed it–Lund shirt?
Marketing. What a concept.
Story #32–Being a former FFCBC champion
has its privileges.
This town remembers it’s past champions. Denis Barnard and Clint Barton got their own theme music despite finishing out of the top-35 for the second straight year, Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun are still affectionately known as “Jim n’ Joe” around here and Norm Lindsay got the warmest reception on his comeback trail.
“They treat you like you’re a somebody when you come to town. It’s quite amazing,” said Moynagh.
(Shed no tears for Moynagh finishing third on Saturday. He was coming off a tournament in New York three weeks ago where he won $57,500 (US)–for also finishing third)
And don’t cry for defending champions Steve and Kent Ballan’s fall from the top. Despite a 24th place finish, Steve was pleased to mention Bass Brothers, a bait company co-owned with Doug McBride (Team #2), signed a new team to sponsor–Norm Lindsay and Jess Swenson.
Once again, marketing. What a concept.
Story #58–The Lindners remain my favourite
interview subject
From Al’s outgoing demeanor to Bill’s frantic photography work during the final weigh-ins (thanks for the elbow), the Lindners are synonomous with the success with this tournament.
As a reporter, their celebrity made approaching them more intriguing, but they’re pretty much down-to-earth fishermen. Nothing more, nothing less.
And how cool is Ron Lindner? With his trademark yellow-and-black “In-Fishermen” hat and gruff voice, this guy is the epitome of “old school.” You could tell just by meeting him once that he’s seen every tournament setting imaginable.
A sampling of his words of wisdom:
On culling for fish during Day One–“At this point, we’re at 14 pounds. I can’t go for three-pounders. I’ve got to go for fours. I needed four pound fish,” he said. “Not one. No misses, no hits. We caught some deuces. Nothing after 8:30 a.m.”
On Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman’s record 22.28 pound catch–“Those are Red Gut fish,” he said while walking away. “How do I know? I know.”
Story #81–Every tournament’s got one (or two, or three): Characters of 2002
With all due respect to FFCBC emcee Lionel Robert, watching 134 teams weigh-in can get kind of boring.
Luckily this year’s FFCBC brought us Sioux Narrows’ Roger and Dorese Harrison (Team #91), first-time competitors here but long-time anglers anywhere else, to shake a silent crowd into cheering and laughter.
“We’ve been coming here for the last day for three or four years just for the final weigh-ins,” said Dorese, who let out quite the holler after Day One’s 16.9 pound performance and did some odd things with a roll of toilet paper on Day Three. “We got pumped about it and thought, ‘We have to get into this.’
“The crowd is great fun and it’s easy to get caught up into things,” she added.
Not to be outdone was Phil Bangert (Team #89 with Rob Plumridge), who seemed to have a playful feud with Robert. On Day Three, Bangert finally had a chance to step into the emcee’s shoes for one weigh-in.
The victims were Allen Kobylka and Chris Savage, who brought in 13.98 pounds.
“Ooh. That’s a nice bag. How did you get’em Al?”
No answer.
“C’mon Al, you might as well tell us,” pretending to grab his shirt before Kobylka spilled the beans.
Story #101–Following in his son’s footsteps
It’s no surprise Devlin’s Jody Shypit’s (Team #75 with Dale LaBelle) number one fan is his dad, George. As his neighbour, I’ve driven George, a retired mill worker, to the Emo Walleye Classic and Lake Despair “Castin’ for Cash” derbies this past year so he could watch his son weigh-in. With a memory of a hockey dad, George can tell you how Jody has done in almost every tournament he’s fished in and they’re both waiting for that first win.
It’s always a touching moment to watch George approach his son afterwards to either ask him how things went or to console him after a tough bite.
Jody will eventually win one of these big derbies and I’ll know exactly who to see for the inside scoop.

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