Canadian teams sweep Falls’ bass tourney

The International Falls Bass Championship took place over the weekend on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake. This unique tournament challenges anglers by making them fish two separate bodies of water over the two-day event. Anglers spend one day the American side of Rainy Lake and one day on the Rainy River.
To add another twist, not all anglers fish each body of water on the same day. Odd-numbered teams fish one side of the dam and even-numbered teams fish the other. The lake is generally the “tougher” body of water to fish, so getting drawn to fish the lake on Day One is usually good unless the weather (wind) acts up a bit, then it can get tough.
This year, 60 teams took part in the tournament and everything ran smoothly, without a hitch. Taking down first place was the “stacked” team of Dave Bennett and Mike Salvador, both of Sioux Narrows. Bennett and Salvador fished the river on Day One and smoked the field with a 16.53-pound catch. Day Two saw Bennett and Salvador bring in a 10.55-pound catch off of Rainy Lake for a two-day total of 27.08 pounds. It was enough to secure first place by nearly a two-pound margin over Doug McBride of Fort Frances and Tom Forstrom of International Falls.
My partner, Scott Dingwall, and I took third place with a 24.72-pound total.
Conditions for this year’s event were the toughest that anglers have been faced with in the four-year history of the tournament. Water levels on the river dropped about four feet in the days before the tournament making navigation and fishing difficult. On the lake, big winds made fishing tough because it is such big water.
The winners made adjustments on the river that other anglers did not do and that was the key to the large bag they brought in there. “We had some good stretches of shoreline in practise that held numbers of fish but when we started hitting them in the tournament and were not getting bit, we figured that we had to move deeper” said Bennett.
“Luckily in practise, I put some waypoints on deeper ‘bumps’ and rockpiles in the river just because I thought that one day they may be good. We moved out to these spots and started catching quality fish,” he added. “Not many of the other teams really got onto this program, but it was key. We caught our fish on Northland Slurpies grubs fished on a Mimic Minnow jighead.”
The best story from the weekend came from the team of Shawn Sirotiak and Jason Pavleck of International Falls. They brought in the first largemouth in the history of the tournament to the scales on Day Two and it was a giant, weighing in at 6.24 pounds, which they caught on Rainy Lake.
These guys forgot their net on Day Two and when they hooked the big fish, it actually jumped three feet out of the water during the fight.
I can only imagine what these guys were thinking when they saw it! They were able to fight the fish close to the boat and land it. What a monster!

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