Record weights mark LaBelle’s bass tourney

Ted Stewner and John Guzej of Winnipeg finished atop the leaderboard at the fifth-annual Rainy Lake Fall Bass Classic at LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp over the weekend—earning themselves the $5,000 first-place cheque.
The pair, who placed second last year, netted a two-day total weight of 45.60 pounds to finish ahead of the 75 other teams competing this year.
They also reeled up the biggest fish of the tournament—a 5.68-pound lunker—on Sunday.
Both these weights marked records for the event, with the previous two-day total coming in at 42.26 pounds, which coincidentally was set by Stewner.
“We had a slow morning bite,” Stewner noted, adding they only had about 15 pounds by 11 a.m. “But by 11:30 a.m., we got one over four pounds and we started seeing some big fish.”
Guzej said near the end of the day, they had found a really good spot—where they caught their big fish—and he didn’t want to leave.
“We kind of had a argument because Ted kept telling me we had to get back,” he explained. “So I think we could have had more.”
The pair noted they fish all over and believe Rainy Lake is the best.
“There are a lot of big fish,” Stewner stressed, adding they definitely will be back next year to defend the title.
This was Stewner’s third first-place finish at LaBelle’s tournament.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin anglers Scott Ourada and John Allen brought in a two-day total of 43.78 pounds to finish second—pocketing $2,500.
Terry Gill and Rueben Gibbins of Morson finished in third place (42.76 pounds), which earned them $1,400.
Finishing in fourth spot, with a two-day total weight of 42.70 pounds, was the team of Wayne and Dean Howard. They won $1,000 for their efforts.
And rounding out the top five were locals Steve Ballan and Doug McBride, who finished with a two-day total weight of 42.64 pounds to take home $750.
Tom Pearson and Eric Lessman earned $300 for reeling in the biggest fish on Day 1 of the competition on Saturday (5.60 pounds).
Tournament organizer Jody Shypit was thrilled with the turnout.
“We saw records,” he enthused. “The total weight, the biggest fish, the number of fish caught—I think there were 22 bags weighing over 20 pounds.
“A lot of anglers were really impressed with the weights.”
There were 320 fish caught on the first day and 266 on Day 2.
Emcee Paul Morrison told the crowd it was amusing to see the disappointment of anglers when their bag weighed in at only 18 pounds.
“In other tournaments, 18 pounds would put anglers at the top of the board, but not here,” he noted.
“This year has been a really long summer, so the fish have been feeding a lot,” Shypit explained, admitting they had assumed beforehand the weights would be big.
“We get a good indication from all the tournaments before us,” he noted.
And he added the nice weather over the weekend was welcomed.
“For five years we’ve been fortunate every year,” Shypit said. “Two days after our tournament last year, we had 60 m.p.h. winds and rain and snow. So we’ve been pretty lucky.
“But some of the anglers like the wind and rain because it makes it tough for everybody else.”
Shypit thanked the anglers and volunteers on a great event and also Hydro One, which was accommodating with Sunday’s power outage.