It’s finally here.
From the minute I arrived in Fort Frances just over three months ago, everyone I’ve met and had the pleasure of chatting with has said the same thing: “Just wait until bass.”
“Bass,” of course, referring to the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, which officially kicked off Sunday with the “Kid Pro” tournament.
Now no one ever really says much more than that. They usually just give me a smile and repeat the now very familiar line. So for the past couple of months, I haven’t been quite sure what to expect.
It’s not like I haven’t had any experience with fishing tournaments during that time. I’ve had the pleasure of attending both the Emo Walleye Classic and “Castin’ For Cash” at Lake Despair Lodge.
Both were top-notch events, and I learned several valuable lessons about the interesting world of tournament fishing. In fact, I’ve formulated a top five list of things a reporter should know before going to cover one.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. People love pictures of the boat launch in the morning.
I personally don’t really understand this one. There are boats and they are going into the water. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but who cares?
It’s a fishing tournament—of course boats are going to go in the water. And yet people love to see the pictures. Who knew?
2. Fishing is deadly serious for a lot of people in Rainy River District.
This little tid-bit is more for the reporter who’s never covered a fishing tournament before and might not have fished much in the past.
I was asked one major question when I interviewed for this job: “Do you think fishing is a sport?” I answered that I thought fishing was a sport—and I’m sure my response factored heavily into my getting the job.
I only realized how important my response had been when I arrived in Fort Frances and spent some time in the archives reading previous editions of the paper.
Although I wasn’t here to witness how it went down, I’m pretty sure former sports reporter Emmanuel Moutsatsos would have mysteriously disappeared if he hadn’t moved on to the Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay.
Fishing is not a sport? What was he thinking?
3. Tournament anglers tend to tell fibs.
I learned this lesson at the Emo Walleye Classic back in late May.
As the boats and anglers were waiting to be towed into the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre for the final weigh-in, I wandered around and spoke to each of the teams to see if they had any really big fish.
With the notable exception of one team, who mentioned they might have a “decent” fish or two, all the teams said they hadn’t had much luck.
So imagine my surprise back inside the arena about 10 minutes later when team after team pulled huge fish out of their live-wells to display to the crowd.
I was vexed.
What’s the harm in telling the sports reporter you have a good fish? It’s not like I’m going to rush in and announce it to the audience. Nor is it going to make any difference in the final standings.
So what’s the big secret?
4. Weigh-ins are exciting.
Unless you’ve been to a weigh-in, you’ll never understand the excitement of it.
After my first fishing tournament, I happened to get a phone call from a friend of mine from back home. We exchanged the normal pleasantries and he asked me what I’d been up to lately.
I immediately told him about my first experience at a weigh-in: the crowds, the fish, the music, the yelling, and the excitement. I spared no detail.
His response? Silence. He just didn’t understand how fish could be exciting.
(I’m going to try and get him to visit next summer so he can see what the big deal is).
5. Anglers are good guys.
Despite their penchant for withholding information (see point 3), most anglers are really good guys.
As a reporter, I meet all kinds of people. Some are interesting, some are boring, and some make you wish the interview was over before it began.
However, it’s been my experience that anglers are pretty well spoken, excited to talk to the media, and really very funny.
I still laugh every time I think about Eric Lessman and Todd Grenier winning the 2006 Emo Walleye Classic. The two of them were like kids on Christmas morning—and it wasn’t the money that had them excited.
Instead, it was the excitement of knowing they were the best anglers on that given weekend.
As this week rolls on, I’m sure I’ll learn more about big time tournament fishing. And to tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to seeing what the hype is all about.
It’s finally here.