Already looking forward to bass tourneys

?Now that another ice-fishing season has come to an end, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming open-water season.
I just love this time year. As anglers, we have so much to look forward to.
For instance, our ice is going to be out almost an entire month earlier than it was last year, so we’ll have a bit of an extended season.
Hopefully, we get some nicer weather than we had for the majority of last summer and life will be good!
I know that people already are out in the boat on parts of Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River catching walleyes before the season closes April 15. Reports have been pretty good, too.
I’ll have plenty of time later to catch walleyes. Right now, I’m thinking bass and preparing my equipment for another tournament season.
The two premier bass events in Sunset Country—the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship taking place July 22-24 on Rainy Lake and the Shaw Kenora Bass International slated for Aug. 5-7 on Lake of the Woods—are well into the planning stages for their 2010 events, so here is the update.
If you are thinking about signing up, both tournaments are well over two-thirds full. The Fort Frances tournament is over 100 teams, and will cap their event at 125.
The SKBI is at around 110 teams and will cap its field at 150 teams.
So if you’re thinking about signing up, the earlier you get your money in, the better start position you will have.
As well, there will be a little rush in the coming weeks as people get their boats in the water and start to think fishing. Get your money in!
Both events have made some changes for their 2010 events. The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship will feature the biggest change as it is moving its venue from the Sorting Gap Marina to the Memorial Sports Centre a few blocks away.
Weigh-ins and the famous week-long party will take place at the arena this year, which will include improved parking and what I predict will be a really fun venue.
Loud music and wild lights inside the arena will make for a very exciting final weigh-in on the Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait!
Hopefully my partner and I make it to the boat parade.
For its part, the SKBI has made some changes to its prize structure based on feedback from anglers.
New for 2010, there will be cash prizes for the top finishing team with one female angler, the top finishing team with a youth angler, the top finishing team with a motor under 115 h.p., and a prize for the top finishing team with a combined age of more than 100.
Both tournaments also will be allowing anglers to take to the water the day before the tournament to pre-fish, giving teams the options to relax and prepare gear or go fishing.
It is important that people remember these are volunteer-driven events. Without volunteers, they do not happen. Both tournaments have the needed directors in place for this year, but it should be noted the Fort Frances event is looking for a new tournament director for 2011.
The SKBI has a new tournament director this year in Duncan McEwan, who has taken over from Tracy Laffin (Tracy is now the director of sponsorship).
If you would like to volunteer to help out at either of these events this summer, contact the respective tournament organizations.
A big thank you, on behalf of all the anglers, to the many people who volunteer their time to these events every year!
As for tournament predictions, people already are starting to talk about what it will take at this year’s events. Will someone finally be able to knock of three-time champions at Fort Frances, Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun?
The early ice-out will change things significantly for both events. On Rainy Lake, more fish should be pulled out of the shallow water they have been in the past couple years.
On Lake of the Woods, smallmouths might be more of a factor if they are pulled out to deeper water, which they should be.
These smelt-eating fish are more consistent and they are bigger!

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