Falls bass tourney offers added challenge

The sixth-annual International Falls Bass Championship took place this past weekend south of the border.
A full field of 60 teams fished the two-day event that places anglers on the American side of Rainy Lake one day and the Rainy River one day, which adds a few extra variables to the equation.
Scott Dingwall and I have fished this tournament since its inception in 2005 and have had a run of pretty good finishes over the years.
This year was our year as we experienced the right amount of luck to win the title.
Our day-one catch of 14.23 pounds landed us in fourth place after our day on the lake. We had the third-best catch off the lake that day behind Day 1 leaders Dale LaBelle and Karl Howells, who brought in a 15.19-pound bag, and Dave Bennett and Mike Salvador, who were in second with 14.84 pounds.
We then fished the river on Day 2 (Saturday) and brought in the largest catch of the tournament at 15.82 pounds, which was enough to secure the win with a two-day total of 30.05 pounds.
Second place went to the Minnesota team of Travis Peterson and Steve Mattson, who brought 27.59 pounds of bass to the scales, while another Minnesota team—Tom Burri and Eric Altena—came third with 26.42.
The fact that teams must fish two different bodies of water during this event really makes the tournament more challenging. The odd-numbered teams fish the lake one day and the even-numbered teams fish the river.
The following day, teams flip-flop to the other system.
The weather is the biggest variable, especially if it’s windy. The U.S. side of Rainy Lake has some really big, open water so if the wind blows, it can make travel and fishing extremely difficult.
Anglers fishing on tahe river obviously have a big advantage if it is really windy out.
We caught our fish on a variety of presentations this past weekend, and we used different baits on each body of water.
On the lake on Day 1, we used three different lures to catch our fish. We used small jerkbaits like a #8 Rapala X-Rap, topwater lures like a Rapala Skitter Pop and small hair jigs like the Northland Bug-A-Boo Jig.
Then on the river for Day 2, we changed up the lures tied to the end of our rods. Our best baits were a Rapala DT4 crankbait and a 3/32 oz. jig tipped with a four-inch Northland Slurpies Swimming Grub.
We chose brown colours for our baits on the river because we noticed that the fish we were catching in practice were puking up crayfish.
Scott and I both have been using Power Pro braided fishing line all year, and it has really improved our fishing ability because of how easy it is to cast, the toughness of it, and the sensitivity that it has.
Fortunately, the weather was consistent last weekend, so there was not a whole lot of advantage for teams with where they were fishing each day. The main thing that worked in our favour was we tried to cover a lot of water and hit as many spots as we could each day.
All of the bass we caught were in shallow water, and they all were holding on very specific pieces of structure like a boulder, clump of weeds, or small point.
We were never able to find a big school of fish. We just learned during our pre-fishing that is was going to be a one fish here, one there deal, and that is how we approached the tournament.
Full tournament results can be viewed at www.ifallsbass.com

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