Hockey players can fish, too

I had a great day on the water last week when I was able to get out in the boat with a couple of my hockey player buddies, Mike Richards and Ian White.
Richards, a Kenora resident in the summer months, spends much of his free time on the water. White, a Calgary Flames’ defenceman, also spends much of his summer in the Kenora area with his wife, Tess.
We headed out for a day of bass fishing in my Lund and were lucky to score some great weather, which made for fantastic fishing.
Now that summer is winding down and these guys are only a few weeks out from heading back to training camp, they are in full workout mode in preparation for another long NHL season. Both noted they have been working hard to get back into game shape, so getting out in the boat for a day was a good break.
Our destination for the day was Shoal Lake, west of Kenora, which I consider the best body of water for smallmouth bass in all of Sunset Country.
I had not been on Shoal since we fished a tournament there in early July, but the lake does not see a lot of pressure at this time of year so we assumed the fish would be grouped up in good numbers and eager to bite.
It did not take long, once we started fishing, to realize we were right about the fish—the smallmouths were hot! We not only caught numbers of fish, we caught some big ones, as well.
It is easy to assume that these two guys are competitive, which they are. Although I could not compete with these guys on the ice, when it comes to fishing I’m as competitive as anyone.
We decided we would have a little tournament during the afternoon because we were catching so many fish. After two hours of catching bass, which included a few triple-headers, we tallied up the weight of our largest two fish.
Although “Whitey” does the least amount of bass fishing between the three of us, he whopped our butts by catching two four-pound smallmouths. “Ritchie” and I finished just behind with fish that were just under four pounds.
It may have been the best day of bass fishing that I’ve had all year.
The cool thing about this particular day was that you could catch fish with just about any technique or lure you wanted to try.
We primarily used three different things: topwater lures like a new Rapala X-Rap Walk (a really nice walking bait), a #10 Rapala X-Rap, and various sizes of Northland Mimic Minnow Jigs tipped with a variety of minnow-imitating bodies to mimic the smelt these fish were foraging on.
One thing about bass is it is common for them to puke up things they’ve recently eaten while they are fighting on the end of your line. We saw a number of bass puke up half-digested smelt in the three- to five-inch range, so we were quick to match our baits to the size of the baitfish we were seeing.
On some days, bass will puke up crayfish or perch. So always try to pay attention if you see this happening, and let the fish tell you what they want to eat.
Next up for me is the International Falls Bass Championship this coming weekend, which challenges anglers by putting us on the American side of Rainy for one day and the Rainy River for the other.
Fishing two bodies of water increases the challenge, but makes for an interesting weekend because there are so many variables for all the anglers to contend with.
Look for my report from this event next week.
You also will be able to follow all the action online at

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