‘KidPro’ always a real special fishing tournament

There is something special that seems to happen on the Sunday of the Safeway “KidPro” tournament that marks the beginning of “Bass Week” here in Fort Frances.
It’s that transfer of information from older anglers to youths.
It’s the passion and enjoyment of fishing an older fisherman can share with a young person—then watch the excitement grow.
It all happened again this past Sunday. The excitement that had started almost a month earlier became reality early in the morning for youngsters from across the district.
Most young people don’t get up at 5 in the morning. Fishermen will.
The pros began launching their boats before 6 a.m. The kids perhaps went to bed early anticipating the early start on Sunday, but had hardly slept. Yet there was a buzz in the tent as the young fishermen began arriving shortly after 6:30.
As instructed by Rick Socholotuk earlier in the week, they came with their hats, sunglasses, lunch, rods, and tackle. The excitement was heard in their voices.
Parents were equally excited, looking forward to hearing from their children at the end of the day of success. They wanted to meet the fishermen who were taking their children out on Rainy Lake.
While the kids were excited, many of the professional teams were talking with each other—looking for maybe a last-minute tip that would avert a fishing disaster during the day.
They wanted to make sure the kids caught bass.
Phil Bangert had asked me to fish with him. Our young angler, Aaron Kellar, had been practising all week—and he already had a fishing game plan in place for the day.
Anticipating some foul weather during the day, our rain gear was stowed on board and we followed the anglers upriver.
Alas, the anglers found fishing difficult.
Listening to the kids at the end of the day, one of their highlights was when everyone found shelter during a lightning storm. Some took refuge at cottages; others landed on islands and took cover under tall pines.
One team took refuge under a trestle bridge.
Another highlight was the ride from the Sorting Gap Marina up the river through the Ranier rapids. The river was boiling there and the back waves could toss the boats about.
Every pro angler came back excited by the new friendships they had made with the youth of the district. They had that one-on-one time to share their passion and excitement of fishing, and passed on tips to those new anglers.
The pros took it slow away from the docks to their first fishing hole. On return, they fished to the last moment and then pushed their boats to get back in time.
Aaron had been paying close attention to the time and didn’t want to be disqualified for a late return.
A file of boats could be seen coming down the lake. Parents, sisters, and brothers waited at the docks to begin hearing the tales of the day. There were many.
The pros added to the conversations with the families. They extended their friendships across the district.
Who received the most from the day remains a mystery. For me, I really enjoyed meeting Aaron and watching him learn. I hope he had a great day.
I certainly did with him.

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