Fort vying to be ‘Ultimate Fishing Town’

Bryce Forbes

Is Fort Frances the “Ultimate Fishing Town” in Canada?
That’s what the World Fishing Network wants to know.
After being nominated for the distinction earlier this month by Nathan Ryan of Thunder Bay, Fort Frances now will be competing against other towns across Canada for $25,000 and the bragging rights of being called “The Ultimate Fishing Town.”
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“I think the number of volunteers, the number of businesses involved, the parade of boats that happened with our [Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship] showed we are the Ultimate Fishing Town,” said Doug Cain, a director for the FFCBC.
“We need to develop a campaign to put us up there with Kenora and Dryden, and whoever else is going for it.
“We have the ammunition to do it, we just need someone to do it,” he stressed.
“It’s an opportunity we can’t ignore.”
Ryan, 14, said he nominated Fort Frances because he loves his memories on the lake.
“When I fish in Rainy Lake, I had some of the best experiences,” he enthused. “I’ve caught some of the biggest fish I’ve ever caught in my entire life.
“The lake is well-maintained,” he added. “You get a lot of clientèle on Rainy Lake because Fort Frances is a border town.
“Anytime I go to Fort Frances, it’s like a second home to me,” the teen continued. “Another half of my family lives there and that’s where I want to live when I’m older.
“Fort Frances is a lot like a city,” he noted. “There is so much you can do and a really nice peaceful area.”
The town already has the endorsement of fishing legend Al Lindner.
“For mixed-fish fishing, it’s a heck of a place,” Lindner remarked. “You’ve got phenomenal smallmouth fishing, walleyes, northern pike, and musky.
“You can set up base in Fort and catch just about anything.
“If you really want to play around, you can go below the dam and catch sturgeon, as well,” added Lindner.
“So is it the ‘Ultimate Fishing Town’ in the world? I would have to rank it awful high.
“For multi-species fishing that I like to do, I would have to put it at the top of the list in Canada,” he remarked.
“Is there a better place to go strictly for muskie? Probably.
“Is there a better place to go strictly for smallmouth bass? Probably.
“Is there a better place to go for northern pike? Probably.
“But when you put it all together in one location sitting in your backyard, I don’t think [there is a better place],” Lindner stressed.
Despite the fact Fort Frances hosts one of the top fishing tournaments in the country, the town is up against some stiff competition.
As of press time, Fort Frances only had seven people supporting the cause, compared to 23 from Thunder Bay and 20 from Kenora.
The real challenge starts Aug. 17 when all nominated towns will be open to a public vote.
Only the top two from each region (Ontario is one region), as well as four “wild card” selections, will make the top 10.
Then from Sept. 7-28, the final round of voting starts, with the “Ultimate Fishing Town” being named Oct. 4.
“As the number-one participation sport in Canada, fishing is a key part of the summer experience,” Mark Rubinstein, president and CEO of World Fishing Network, said in a press release.
“Knowing this, and that more people fish than play golf and tennis combined, we decided to search for WFN’s ‘Ultimate Fishing Town.’
“We want people to get behind their towns, communities, and cities and prove that they deserve the title of ultimate fishing town,” Rubinstein added.
“Fresh off the Canadian Bass Championship, with a local resident as one of the members of the winning team [Dorian Lindholm],” Cain cited as a reason to name Fort Frances the “Ultimate Fishing Town.”
“The big largemouth bass being found on Rainy Lake. [Fishing great] Al Lindner’s smallmouth destination has always been Rainy Lake,” he added.
“Being a border town with International Falls, Mn., customs is known as one of the busiest crossing in the entire country, all because our neighbours to the south are coming to Fort Frances to fish,” wrote one entrant on the WFN website.
As well as the distinction of being called the “Ultimate Fishing Town,” the winning town also earns $25,000 and a half-hour show on WFN.
It seems like everyone could come up with a different idea on how they would spend the winnings.
Ryan said he would like to see the money used towards whatever would benefit the town the most.
“Maybe it could go towards the economic development or maybe another dock,” he remarked.
“When I walk around the parkway and I see the dock, it’s a good-size dock but I think if they built another longer one, it would make more room for boats.”
“I don’t know what kind of money they would need for another ramp down at the Sorting Gap Marina, but that would be heck of a good place to start,” said Tom Fry, outgoing chair of the FFCBC.
“I wouldn’t spend it on the tournament unless if we could find something that would cut down on capital costs,” he noted.
“Maybe there are items that we need to rent and bring in. It could be devoted to that.”
“I would use it to promote the community as the ‘Ultimate Fishing Town’ in Canada,” said Lindner. “In your community with so many tourists coming through, I would definitely put up a billboard and make that statement.”
Safeway KidPro winner Kent Ballan with his brother, Steve, thinks the money could be used to follow the follow the footsteps of Kenora.
“Kenora has [its] Husky the Musky statue. It would be nice to see something like that here,” reasoned Ballan.
“Fort Frances is known as a bass fishing town,” he added. “People fish walleye up here, but I think it’s bass fishing that made the place famous.
“It would be neat to see a statue put up in town.”
But Cain has a far simpler way he would spend the winnings.
“I don’t care about the money, I just want the bragging rights,” he stressed. “There are a lot of things we could use the money for, that’s immaterial at this point.
“I just want the bragging rights.
“That’s what I want to say when I’m inviting people to come out for the [FFCBC] is that we are the Ultimate Fishing Town 2010.”