FFCBC my toughest test yet

The 17th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship that took place this past weekend on Rainy Lake may well have been to toughest tournament I’ve ever fished.
The hot weather and light winds we had experienced throughout the pre-fishing period disappeared when we woke up on Thursday morning for Day 1 of the tournament.
High winds dropped water temperatures significantly—and the attitude of the bass in Rainy Lake went pretty sour for most teams.
My partner, John Peterson, president of Northland Fishing Tackle, and I had a very good practice—probably the best I’ve ever had in 12 years of fishing this tournament.
Smallmouths on Rainy Lake love hot weather and light winds, and it showed the previous week. We spent five days pre-fishing for the tournament and the fishing actually got better and better for us every day.
In fact, we were seeing the potential for 20-pound bags the last few days.
As is always the case in these tournaments, somebody always catches big fish. But this year was unique because there actually was a tie for first place between the Thunder Bay team of Trevor Zimak and Glen Leroux and the International Falls, Mn. duo of Jon Austin and Richard Rud.
Both of these teams had three-day totals coming in at 52.42 pounds.
The actual tournament rule in the case of a tie for first place is a one-hour fish-off between the two teams that are tied. Most tournaments actually have this rule and in tournament fishing, is there anything more exciting?
But by the time the tournament weigh-in was over and it was determined there actually was a tie, it was 6:30 p.m. On top of that, the conditions on Rainy Lake were horrible on Saturday, with strong east winds making things really rough on the lake.
Zimak and Leroux, in fact, barely made it in because of some issues with the steering on their boat.
So when the time came to make a decision on what to do, both teams decided to split first place and share the money that would have been awarded to the first- and second-place teams.
In the end, this was a good decision that made life easy for a lot of people. From another angler’s perspective, I was totally wore out by Saturday evening and the last thing I would have wanted to do was go back out on the lake.
So we had a tie.
Third place went to the always solid Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman from Minnesota, who have been pulled through the Day 3 boat parade for the past 10 years in a row. It’s amazing, really, how consistent they are year after year.
One of these times, they will win the tournament. They deserve it.
Overall, the tournament was a great time for all the anglers. This tournament and the Shaw Kenora Bass International, which takes place next week on Lake of the Woods, are two of the premier events in North America and we are lucky to have them happening right here in Sunset Country.
It really was too bad that the weather conditions changed so much when the tournament started because there was a good chance the tournament record weight of 58.62 pounds, caught by Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun back in 1998, could have been smashed.
If things had stayed hot and calm, I would have been surprised if at least one team didn’t break the 60-pound mark.
But in tournament fishing, conditions change and the anglers that were able to adapt and stay on top of the fish were the most successful. What it did prove was there still are a lot of big bass in Rainy Lake.
A big thanks to all the tournament sponsors and volunteers who rallied together to make this event happen again this year. The new tournament director, Gord Watson, did an excellent job, as well, despite having to make a few difficult decisions throughout the event.
The anglers really appreciate all the support and time that goes into this great community event. I’m already counting down the days until I get to come back next year!
Meanwhile, after a few days of playing catch-up at home this week and a couple of guide trips, it’s right back at it for me—getting ready for the SKBI next week.
There are still spots open for anglers looking to get in at the last minute. See you on the water!

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