Great weather for ‘Last Chance’ tourney

The annual Shoal Lake Last Chance bass tournament took place this past weekend and anglers could not have asked for nicer weather.
Some 46 teams signed up for the tournament this year, about the usual turnout.
Both largemouth and smallmouth bass were biting on the weekend and when it was all said and done, a couple of usual suspects were atop the leaderboard.
Winnipeg anglers Ted and Louise Stewner won the tournament with 10 smallmouths that came in at 37.02 pounds, with their Day 2 catch of 19.60 pounds being the largest of the tournament.
It is not their first time winning a tournament on Shoal Lake (they won the Shoal Lake Big Bass Classic in July, 2010, as well). And Ted also has won the fall tournament several times with previous partner John Guzej.
Across the board, the weights were down this year from what they usually are—something that most of the anglers I spoke with thought was due to the nice weather.
It’s at the point in the season where cold weather actually gets the fish really fired up.
Several anglers said they could see fish in deep water on their electronics, but had a tough time getting them to bite. The Stewners, on the other hand, figured out a trick to get these deep-water fish to bite.
Second place went the Sioux Narrows team of Matt Rydberg and Brian McNanney, the 2009 SKBI champs. They brought in mixed bags of smallmouths and largemouths for a two-day total of 36.36 pounds.
These guys definitely are noted for their skills in catching largemouth bass, but they proved they can catch smallmouths, too, as evident in their Day 2 catch which was anchored by three big smallies.
Third place went to the Kenora team of Dave Bennett and Dean Howard, who weighed in smallmouths on both days of the tournament and finished with a total of 35.68 pounds.
These guys focused of fishing deep humps in the big section of the lake.
My buddy, Dennis Favreau, and I had a good weekend and ended up in fourth with 35.50 pounds. We had mixed bags each day, as well, and ended up weighing five smallmouths and five largemouths.
We caught quite a few fish each day, but we really noticed it was tougher to make those big four-pound fish bite than it usually is. Still, the nice weather made everything great.
We caught out smallmouths on Northland Mimic Minnow Jigs tipped with an Impulse Smelt Minnow while most of our largemouths fell for a Northland Jungle Jig.
Kenora anglers Peter Adams and Darryl Galusha took home fifth place with 35.09 pounds. They also caught the largest bass of the tournament—a 5.08-pound largemouth.
Galusha told me it was their first fish of the morning on Day 2—talk about a great way to start the day off!
The tournament organizers, meanwhile, did a great job, as usual. Shoal Lake is an awesome body of water that we are lucky to be able to fish a couple tournaments per year on.
For all the anglers who enjoy bass fishing, whether you like to fish tournaments or not, there likely is no better fishery in Sunset Country for numbers of big fish.
The organizers did note they have changed the date of the annual July tournament from the first weekend of the month to the second weekend. Due to some late-spring seasons that have occurred in recent years, there still have been significant numbers of bass guarding beds, so moving the tournament back a week will reduce the chance of that happening again.
A good move I think most anglers will be happy about (the 2012 tournament dates are July 14-15).
This is the last weekend for anglers in the region to get in a tournament for 2011, with three events taking place across the region.
The Manitoba Bass Anglers are holding a one-day tournament Saturday at the Figure-8 Baits dock in Kenora. There also is a two-day event running out of Whitefish Bay in Sioux Narrows as well as a walleye tournament taking place on Northwest Bay (Rainy Lake).
All three tournaments blast off at 8 am.
If you like competitive fishing, you have options this weekend. So go have fun—it’s a long winter!

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