Fish tourneys need to work together

It seemed like an angler’s paradise across the district last weekend.
For bass lovers, the second-annual LaBelle’s Rainy Lake Bass Classic built an even stronger foundation for years to come with 71 teams battling it out for the $5,000 top prize.
Meanwhile, the fifth-annual Rainy River Walleye Tournament pitted 81 teams against one another, with a $15,000 pot of gold—or cash, anyway—awaiting at the top of the mountain.
Both tournaments were filled to capacity in terms of participation, which speaks well for both events. But one has to wonder if more couldn’t have been done to avoid having both competitions on the same weekend.
While I didn’t spend almost any time in Rainy River to hear opinions from that area, I did pick up a clear vibe from several of the bass anglers walking the grounds of LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp.
The notion was that it would have been a much better scenario if the two tournaments happened at different times, as was the case last year when the walleye event happened on the third weekend of September, with the bass derby taking place the following week.
RRWT organizers reportedly decided to move their tournament back a week because they were getting requests from anglers to move it later in the season.
The reason was that the migratory patterns of the walleye dictated that more of the fish would have returned to the river by that point of the year after spending the summer months residing in the colder lake areas.
Granted, there isn’t a huge cross-over between bass and walleye fishermen. The majority have their preference, and there isn’t much issue for them as to which tournament to take part in.
But for those who do enjoy fishing both species, it certainly would make for an overall better fall angling season if they at least had the opportunity to compete in both events.
The $64,000 question, of course, is which tournament should pull up stakes and change dates to make that possible.
Does the walleye tournament carry more weight because of it being around for three more years? Or does the fact the bass derby was the first to claim the final weekend of the month make the walleye competition the one that should have to revise its plans?
There’s no easy solution to the problem, and with both selling out in terms of number of entries, maybe it’s not such a big problem, anyway.
That’s for more talented anglers than me—meaning just about everyone walking the planet—to decide. But it’s something to consider, too.
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A fascinating proposal was issued by Winnipeg angler Jerry Millar during Saturday’s weigh-in at the LaBelle derby.
Millar suggested that it may be a good idea to organize a fall tournament that would allow for hybrid fishing, meaning teams could capture a specific number of both bass and walleye.
It certainly would put a different spin on the usual fish derby concept of going after only one type of fish and probably would make it more of a challenge for the anglers, who thrive on the thrill of the chase.
I’m curious to know if a hybrid tournament is something that would have enough support in this area to get off the ground. If nothing else, it’s good fodder for conversation in the ice fishing shack this winter.
• • •
Sarah Noonan is on her way to another good season as a sophomore on the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs women’s soccer team.
The Bulldogs are 3-2-2 overall this season, not counting their 7-2 exhibition loss to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in their opening game of the year.
Noonan scored in the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss to North Dakota on Sept. 21 and also has two assists to her credit. She has started only one of the team’s first eight games, but the midfielder/forward still is tied for sixth in team scoring, and is alone in sixth in shots taken and shots on goal.
The squad won its opening game in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference this past Sunday (2-1 over Northwest Missouri State). Noonan and Co. next will take the field this Saturday on home turf at 1 p.m. against visiting Winona State.
• • •
Two more former Muskie female soccer stars had an enjoyable sojourn to Thunder Bay last weekend.
Carling Barton and Nicole Rogozinski, who ended their high school careers this past spring, helped the University of Manitoba Lady Bisons to 3-0 and 2-0 victories Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the host Lakehead University Thunderwolves women’s squad.
• • •
Okay, so my NFL playoff picks weren’t bad while my Stanley Cup post-season choices were lousy. So logic has it that my major league baseball selections will fall somewhere in the middle. But logic’s hardly my strong point. Just ask around.
Regardless, in the American League, I’ll take the New York Yankees over the Minnesota Twins in four (the Twins have lost 13-straight against the Yanks; you do the math) while those despicable Boston Red Sox (yes, I am a Toronto rooter) will use their high-powered offence to overcome the Oakland A’s in five.
Over in the National League, the San Francisco Giants will foil the Florida Marlins’ plan to walk Barry Bonds every opportunity and still win in four games.
And in my heart-over-mind pick of the week, the long-suffering Chicago Cubs, without a World Series to their credit since 1908, will deal the Atlanta Braves yet another playoff heart-break by winning in five.
There’s nothing much better than baseball in October.

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