International Falls tourney provided challenges

The seventh-annual International Falls Bass Championship took place this past weekend on the American side of Rainy Lake and on the Rainy River.
This has turned into a top-notch tournament in the region that attracts not only American anglers but several from Ontario as well, that travel across to participate.
Scott Dingwall and I have fished the tournament together since the first year in 2005 and have been fortunate to win the event three times after we did this past weekend.
The event has a unique format that places anglers on the Rainy River one day and on the American side of Rainy Lake one day. Being faced with two separate bodies of water makes it very challenging for the 60 teams that fish the event annually.
We each spent a few days pre-fishing for this tournament and it worked out pretty good because Scott put significant time in on the river, while I worked on the lake. The river was really tough for most anglers, including us. We had high confidence that we could catch a decent limit on the lake so as long as we could hold our own on the river, we felt we would have a decent chance to win the tournament.
Things turned out pretty good. We got drawn to fish the river on Day One, which was definitely key to our success.
The wind blew hard on day one, about 25 km per hour so that made it challenging to fish on the lake. Being more protected on the river, it didn’t really affect us.
Also, we felt that the river would be easier on Day One because there would be more fish to be caught.
We left the river with 12.25 pounds; good enough for 6th place in our group and 13th place overall.
Conditions were exactly what we wanted for Day Two on the lake. It was sunny with light winds.
We had our best day ever in this tournament and actually set the tournament record with a 19.19-pound catch that landed us in 1st place when things wrapped up on Saturday afternoon.
We won $10,000, so we were obviously pretty pumped up.
The water was really low on the River, so for us, it was all about fishing shallow water.
We caught our fish on little stretches of shoreline that had weeds growing out in front of them.
If there were pockets in the weeds, we would try to cast our baits into those holes or run them along the outside edge of the weeds.
We caught most of our fish out there on ½ oz Northland Pro-Series Spinnerbaits.
On the lake we started the day fishing in deeper water at the mouths of some of the weedy bays on the American side of the lake. We caught our fish on #8 Rapala X-Raps.
This is the smaller size that we refer to as the “baby” X-Rap.
In the afternoon once things warmed up we moved progressively shallower and caught our fish fishing shallow boulders with some of the new Northland Impulse soft plastics. They will hit the shelves at some point this fall.
Scott caught the biggest bass of the tournament, a 4.75-pound smallmouth that anchored our big bag off the lake.
It’s back to work for me this week. I have a few guide trips booked, then it’s back to tournament mode next week in Sioux Narrows for the annual Bassin’ For Bucks event.
There are still some spots open for this tournament if anyone is interested in signing up.
Entry forms can be found on the tournament website.

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