Already counting the days to 2011 tournaments

Those of us who live here in Sunset Country are fortunate because of the unique bass regulations in this part of the province.
Our season is open year-round, allowing those of us who love to catch these scrappy critters to fish for them from the time the ice goes out right through the entire open water season.
From the start of the calendar year, however, our bass fisheries are catch-and-release only until July 1, with the exception that anglers can keep a couple of small ones under 13.75” on some waters.
What this means is there are no tournaments until July because although we eventually release all the fish, we do have put them in our live-wells for a time.
I’ve said it before but we are lucky to have the quality bass tournaments we do in Sunset Country. I follow bass fishing, and tournaments in particular, across North America and we have the finest open team tournaments anywhere as far as attracting crowds, anglers, and the good payouts that some of these deliver.
We have a schedule of annual events that take place on waters across the region. Between Thunder Bay and Shoal Lake, there is a tournament somewhere pretty much every weekend from July through September.
I fish as many of these events as I can. I absolutely love the competition, the reason to spend a ton of time on the water, and many of my friends share my passion for these tournaments.
We always have fun.
?The first tournament of the year took place at Shoal Lake on the first weekend in July. This is my favourite body of water in the whole region.
Not only is the fishing really good, but the fact that the lake is not charted really makes it interesting. You can put the time in and find spots and structure that other anglers are not likely going to be fishing.
And the beauty of it is that there are fish all over this lake—you can catch big ones everywhere!
The winners of the event this year were Ted and Louise Stewner of Winnipeg, who won $12,000 for their effort. Their two-day total of 33.38 pounds edged Chris Savage and I by .29 of a pound.
Third place went to Winnipeggers Scott Cook and Jerry Millar with 32.47 pounds.
The following weekend, area anglers converged on Lake Despair for the 10th-annual “Castin’ For Cash” event. I fish this tournament with my girlfriend, August Collinson, and we really struggled this year after solid finishes the past couple.
First place and $5,000 went to Jon Evans and Gus McFaddin, who brought in a two-day total of 29.35 pounds—a new record for this event.
Devlin anglers Kelvin Caul and Ted Heyens were second with 28.57 pounds while third went to Doug and Solly Mcbride.
The weights were higher than they have ever been at this event this year–a trend that has been ongoing for the past few years. Look for more records to be broken next year.
Next up was the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship at the end of July. The event moved venues for the weigh-ins this year to the arena and the new site worked out great from an angler’s standpoint.
Local angler Dorian Lindholm, who teamed up with Bill Wilcox of Texas, won the event in dominating fashion with a three-day total of 56.45 pounds to take home $20,000.
They brought in magnum catches three days in a row to capture their first title.
Second place went to the always competitive Minnesota team of Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman, who finished with 53.26 after three days. My partner, John Peterson, and I were third with 52.24 pounds.
The Kenora Bass International went down two weeks later on Lake of the Woods. Some 135 teams competed for the $25,000 first-place prize that ended up in the hands of Sioux Narrows anglers Dennis Mandamin and Jason Carpenter, who had a three-day total of 50.20 pounds.
Their mixed bags of largemouth and smallmouth bass were enough to edge another Sioux Narrows team, Brian McNanney and Matt Rydberg, who were second with 48.73 pounds.
Third place went to the Kenora team of Jon Pearson and Behn Carlson, who had 48.44.
The annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament in Sioux Narrows took place the second week in September. This is the last big event of the year.
Area anglers love this tournament—evident by the fact it was sold out for the 10th year in a row. The 120-boat field fishes for daily prizes, as well as aggregate prizes for the three-day event
To cap off an awesome season, Ted and Louise Stewner won their second big event of the year with a three-day total of 54.85 pounds of smallmouth bass.
My partner, Mike Reid, and I were second with 53.60 pounds.
We started out the tournament with a bang when we brought in 24.55 pounds of largemouth bass on Day 1. Unfortunately, we struggled to catch big fish the next two days and couldn’t hold off the consistency of the Stewners.
I’m already counting down the days until the first weekend in July to get the tournament season rolling again–I can’t wait.
For those who are interested, most of these events already are taking registrations for next year’s tournaments (look on their respective websites for this information).
I’m in Arkansas this week doing some fishing–catching some bass and trout. Look for the report on my trip next week.

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