Hometown duo top 2001 bass derby

Last year, 0.4 pounds was the winning margin as a local team took home the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship for the first time. But at the final weigh-in Saturday, they had close to a three-pound cushion.
That’s right. They. All three of them.
Topping the competition were brothers Steve and Kent Ballan (Team #86) who took home the coveted crown–and the $25,000 cash prize–with a three-day total weight of 52.92 pounds.
Meanwhile, father-son duo of Doug and Zack McBride (#104) of Devlin were close behind at 52.14 pounds, while Harry Bell of Fort Frances and John Maffei of Havelock, Ont. (Team #24) took hold of third place with a 51.87 pound total.
Steve Ballan was glowing as he and Kent made several trips to the stage. “It’s nice to bring [the title] back home,” he said in front of nearly 2,000 spectators who flooded the area under and around the Sorting Gap tent
Kent Ballan was pleased with the patterns they caught on to while prefishing. From there, all that needed to be done was cast and be patient.
“We got lucky and found that one good pattern on Wednesday before it started, and it held out,” he said. “We kept fishing and they kept biting.”
The Ballans remained consistent throughout the three-day catch-and-release tourney, scoring daily weights of 19.26, 16.76, and 16.90 en route to Saturday evening’s victory celebration.
In addition to the big prize, the Ballans took home the Top Rendezvous Trail Team, the Top MinnKota Team and top finishing team who fished the Kid-Pro tourney–prizes of $1,000 each. The FFCBC win also guaranteed them the opportunity to fish at the 2002 Chevy Mercury Classic.
After leading the field on day one with 19.76 pounds, Doug and Zack McBride slipped a little on day two with 15.56 pounds before scoring 16.82. They waited on stage with the Ballans as their final weight was announced.
“I’m completely overwhelmed by the big finish. Very happy,” said Doug McBride. “We knew it was going to be close.”
American teams trailed the three top teams. The veteran Minnesotan squad of Larry Hullett and Gene Boyer reeled in 50.64 pounds, Duane and Randy Anderson, also of Minnesota, fished for 50.62 pounds, and Wisconsin’s Mike Luhman and Mark Raveling had 50.08 pounds.
The Andersons got the big catch of day three with a derby-high of 20.04 pounds, while Kenora’s Mike and Aaron Causyn (Team #29) got the big fish of the day, with a bass weighing 5.14 pounds. John Plasky and Joe Bolzan (Team #120) won the hidden weight.
Friday’s winners in those categories were Bell and Maffei with an 18.40 pound “big catch,” and Minnesota’s Ted Krause and Jimmy Bell (Team #5) turned in a 4.86 pounder for the big fish prize. Larry Kielczewski and Joe Kawulia (Team #82) were the hidden weight winners.
Six teams garnering 50 or more pounds hasn’t happened since 1998, when seven teams scored that tally.
The angling duos of Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun, and locals Denis Barnard and Clint Barton, who scratched and battled for last year’s title were nowhere to be found on the leaderboard, both just making the top 90 cut.
Moynagh and Thrun, 1998 and 1999 champions, finished in 57th place with 31.74 pounds, while defending champions Barnard and Barton finished with 22.54 pounds and a dire 88th placing–ironically they were just 0.4 pounds from falling out of contention.