‘KidPro’ tourney a great start to ‘Bass Week’

  I watched early Sunday morning as 28 youngsters, accompanied by their parents, bounced in under the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina here.
   With their fishing rods firmly in one hand and their tackle boxes in the other, and either mom or dad carrying their packsacks filled with water, rain gear, sunscreen, shyly they approached the table to find out who they were fishing with in the annual KidPro tournament, which is held each July in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
    The suspense had kept many awake half the night—waiting for morning to come.
    Meanwhile, the pros were launching their boats. Once tied up at the docks, they just as eagerly came in to register. They, too, were anxious to find their young partners and get the day underway.
    The two groups began searching each other out. Kids sought out their pros and the pros found their kids. With introductions to parents, each got to know one another.
    And before you knew it, time signalled the mark to load the boats and proceed to the start. By 8 a.m., the last of the teams had been introduced and dispatched.
    Parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles vacated the tent and moments later a gust of rain blew through the site area. Fortunately, the anglers were well clear of the weather and headed off to find fish.
    By mid-afternoon, those parents who had entrusted their kids to the anglers began re-assembling under the tent, or lining the walkways watching for the boats their children had left in.
    With high-pitched whines, and “rooster tails” spraying from behind, the boats raced down the river back to the marina just as the pros would race back at the end of the day in tournament fishing.
    The teams pulled into the docks and immediately were greeted by excited parents with hundreds of questions. But first the kids had to deliver their cameras and catch results to the weighmaster, who then calculated the weight of each fish caught based on its length.
    Then the wait was on to determine the champion.
    One might expect that the young anglers would be hungry upon returning after spending seven hours on the water, but the anticipation of who might win was too unsettling to eat.
    For some, the period was as agonizing as waiting for Christmas to arrive.
    For the young anglers, it seemed to take forever. For parents, it was a moment to ask more questions. And for the pros, it was a chance to exchange information or misinformation about what they had been doing on the water.
    Everyone caught fish. They caught the bass and there were no shabby fish recorded—the sizes would make any tournament team proud.
    As for the memories? Well, if you asked any of the young anglers what they would remember from the day, their faces just lit up like a 300-watt light bulb.
    It was a great start to the FFCBC week.

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