Friday night fare a real cross-section of anglers

    Thursday night is all business. Saturday night is strictly partying, at the tent at the Sorting Gap Marina or otherwise.
    Friday is somewhere in-between for most anglers competing in the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship. And after a few drinks, it’s easier to squeeze the truth out of people famous for, er, fibbing.
    It’s not long after the Day 2 weigh-in and many anglers already are at the La Place Rendez-Vous. A quick look into the restaurant yields a number of familiar faces, but the more interesting group is a table of eight anglers in the bar next to the big screen.
    They laugh and talk—growing serious only when they agree they need to catch up to Jim Moynagh.
    Tom Pearson, an FFCBC veteran beating his way through a brutal tournament, hung around the tent, talking to rookie Adam Dalum by the silent auction tent.
    “We’re going back to check the maps and try to make a game plan. Actually, we’re just going to drink beer,” Pearson deadpanned.
    Dalum mused that while he’ll be taking it easy Friday, the top 10 teams heading into the final day—none of which are in sight at the marina at the time—probably will spend the night retying knots, checking equipment, making a game plan, and getting rest.
    Pearson chuckled.
    “This is your first year,” he told Dalum. “Just you watch—most of them will be back here ‘til midnight.”
    It’s about 8 p.m. and at the Bayview Motel, anglers are milling around in a parking lot filled with a fleet of trucks with boats. Gene and Kirk Boyer, two brothers who have spent their years at this tournament, already are in bed.
    Gene called their past two days their “all-time worst fishing tournament,” but it hasn’t got them down. “After you do this as long as we do, you understand it. That’s why they call it fishing, not catching.”
    He insisted they’re saving the partying for Saturday night—plus, they’re just relaxed guys. Gene said they’re looking forward to getting together with the other anglers the following night.
    “Some of us will be laughing, some will be crying but we’ll have fun,” he said.
    In the next room over, Jason Durham and Jeremy Anderson—two guys a few years younger than the Boyers—are thinking about having a later night.
    Anderson figured he might be at the tent until midnight. Durham wondered aloud about where to find a mannequin head at the late hour.
    The team still was raw about having their lures dumped into their gas tank that morning—hampering their second day and leaving them in 62nd place after landing nearly 17 pounds the day before.
    They figure it may have been retaliatory.
    Before the tournament, the duo wanted to play a prank on Kelley Cirks and Doug Hanson, their fishing buddies from Nevis, Mn. Durham picked up a porno mag at a gas station on the way. The girl behind the counter gave him a look.
    “I said, ‘I’m buying it as a prank’ and she goes, ‘Oh yeah, I hear that one a lot,’” he recalled.
    The two stuck a photo—a relatively tasteful one, they insisted—on the inside of one of their rival’s livewell doors in time for an awkward moment during Thursday morning’s inspections.
    The two need to get back home to Minnesota early on Saturday night, so that leaves extracurricular activities to Friday.
    Meanwhile, the bass nightlife begins and ends at Kitchingman’s Corner at the Rainbow Motel.
    If you don’t know what Kitchingman’s Corner is, you haven’t been anywhere near it—a banner hangs from the roof of the motel, above a dozen or so anglers and their wives talk about all things related and unrelated to the tournament over drinks.
    Gary Iskierka advertised it as a VIP club—“fine dining, wining, dancing . . .”
    “Lots of whining,” Dean Christofferson interrupted.
    Some of the Rainbow regulars had turned in for an early night—James Lindner, behind but never out of it, pored over a map of Rainy Lake while propped up in his bed. Others chose to forget about the tournament for an evening.
    “What do you do on Friday night? Drink!” John Guzej answered, incredulous. “Why didn’t you ask in the first place?”
    Guzej, boozy after a couple of 16-pound bags that would be more impressive in past years, is more apt to speak his mind. In between statements best left out of print, he drops an emotional nugget about his friends at the motel.
    “It’s all about your friends being here, trying to win this thing,” he said. “It’s not the same without your friends . . . this little group here cheers for everybody.”
    The group remarked it was a sweet thing for Guzej to say. He doesn’t miss a beat.
    “It’s important someone here ends up there [winning on stage]. Then they can pick up the whiskey next year.”

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