Falcon Lake bass tourney a challenge

An opening day bass tournament on Falcon Lake in Manitoba has been a tradition for quite a few years now (Manitoba, which has different regulations on bass than Ontario, opens its season on the second Saturday in May every year).
This year’s tournament was supposed to take place May 10, but lingering ice on the lake pushed the one-day tournament date back to May 31.
This tournament is unique because it is different than most of the events we have in Ontario. Since the tournament usually takes place on opening day, there is no pre-fishing.
Anglers just show up and do their best to find five bass to bring in.
Manitoba also has a slot size on bass, so only two fish over 16 inches may be weighed in. The other three fish must be under 16 inches.
At Ontario events, anglers bring in the five biggest bass they can to the scales.
After it was announced that the dates for the event were going to be changed, anglers also were notified that pre-fishing would be allowed this year.
I’ve fished the tournament five times before and those were the only five days I had spent on the lake, so pre-fishing it this year gave me a good chance to scout out the whole body of water.
After spending a few days on the water last week before the tournament, it became apparent that Falcon has plenty of big bass in it, as well as some giant pike and large walleyes.
It is a deep lake with few islands, so the water was slightly colder than neighbouring Lake of the Woods. Smallmouths were in transition from deeper wintering locations to shallow, shoreline structure where they will begin to spawn in the coming weeks.
Most of the fish I found were in the five-10 foot depths, hanging close to rockpiles along the shoreline.
My partner, Dave Bennett, and I found we could catch the most fish by covering water with jerkbaits and crankbaits like Rapala X-Raps and Shad Raps.
After a few days of pre-fishing, we had more than 60 waypoints on the GPS that we caught bass on, and during the tournament we fished quickly and tried to cover as many of these spots as we could.
If we caught a couple of fish off a spot, we would fish slow with a Northland Slurpies tube jig and caught a few of our bigger fish with this technique.
So how did the tournament end up? The winners of the event (worth $2,200) were Kenora anglers Darren Marcine and Pat James. Their five-fish limit weighed 14.65 pounds—pretty impressive considering they had three fish in their bag under 16 inches (fish that weigh around two pounds apiece).
A limit of the biggest five fish they caught would have rivalled any bag weighed in at the KBI or FFCBC.
Second place went to Roy Lemay of Kenora and Curtis Homer of Winnipeg with 14.10 pounds, followed by Dave and me in third with 13.45 pounds.
Scott Dingwall and Joanna Ripley of Dryden were fourth while Troy Norman and Andrew Rogozinski of Fort Frances finished in fifth place.

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