Bass tourney to hold Pro-Am kick-off

Joey Payeur

It’s the return of “KidPro”—except this time, it’s for “kids” from age 10-92 or even older, too.
The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship will kick off a week of activities with the Safeway Pro-Am fishing tournament on Sunday, July 19.
Last year saw the annual “KidPro” tournament, which paired FFCBC anglers with youth in a one-day event, fall by the wayside.
Pro-Am organizer Shelley Wepruk decided it was time to resurrect the event—this time without the age limit—at the behest of several fishermen she knew and who knew her son, Shane, an avid fisherman himself.
“The fishermen said if I spearheaded it, they would help out with it,” Wepruk recalled.
“Phil Bangert and Bob Lindberg were the first two, along with Shane, that said they would help get it going,” she added.
Wepruk said the FFCBC wasn’t the same with the absence of “KidPro” last year.
“Something was lacking when they quit doing it,” she remarked.
“A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go fishing,” she added.
“If you have a group of pros, or semi-pros as the case may be, willing to take them out, it’s good for these people and might make them want to get into fishing more instead of sitting at their computer or getting into trouble,” Wepruk reasoned.
Participants will be chosen from among registration forms collected, with the number to be picked based on the number of FFCBC anglers offering to be part of the teams.
Registration is free, with the final entry deadline being next Wednesday (July 15).
Forms can be picked up and dropped off at Safeway.
General manager Kevin Langford of Safeway said it didn’t take much convincing to get his store on board.
“We used to support the ‘KidPro’ every year and this is an event we can put our name on,” noted Langford, who will have many of his staff on hand at the event to help out in various capacities.
“[The Pro-Am] is a new concept and I think it’s fantastic,” he added.
While the majority of those who register to participate
likely will be youths, Wepruk said that shouldn’t prevent older fishing fans from throwing their net in the water.
“If there’s a 60-year-old who has never bass fished in their lives, and wants to give it a try, they’re more than welcome,” she stressed.
The Safeway Pro-Am will see participants, who are required to bring their own life jacket, leave the Sorting Gap Marina at 8 a.m. for the catch-and-release tourney.
They will return by 1 p.m. for the weigh-ins, which won’t be done in the traditional manner.
“Participants have to weigh in three fish, and take a picture of each one and measure the length,” Wepruk explained.
“The judges will judge the approximate weight at the weigh-ins for each fish based on the documented length,” she noted.
“They will look at the pictures to make sure the lengths being reported are accurate since we’re on the honour system.
“If someone says a fish is 18 inches long, and they look at the picture and see it’s only 12, the judges will know,” Wepruk maintained.
Every amateur angler will get a prize, with a trophy going to the winner.
The top three finishers also will receive additional prizes.
“I think the community has lost its enthusiasm for the [FFCBC] and my main goal is to bring it back,” Wepruk said.
“Hopefully, the Pro-Am will get the kids excited, get their parents excited, and take off all on its own,” she added.