Champs repeat in LaBelle derby

The post-tournament thought of putting a bounty on the heads of Kenora’s Ted Stewner and Winnipeg’s Al Carlson for next year may have been a joke.
But the pair of ace anglers once again showed they don’t kid around when it comes to fall fishing.
Stewner and Carlson (Team #19) put together the only pair of 20-pound baskets among the field to capture their second-straight title at the second-annual LaBelle’s Rainy Lake Bass Classic at LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp over the weekend.
The pair had to be sharp during a weekend which saw 30 of the 71 duos post two-day totals of more than 30 pounds—significantly higher than last year.
After placing fourth on day one Saturday with a total of 20.80 pounds, Stewner and Carlson collected Sunday’s highest combined catch at 21.46 pounds for a two-day total of 42.26—up from their winning mark of 39.12 pounds a year ago.
The victory netted $5,000, and also ensured them a spot in the 2004 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship—no small bonus considering the $50,000 top prize available at next year’s 10th-annual FFCBC.
The team of Doug McBride from Devlin and Steve Ballan from Fort Frances (Team #60) had the inside track after coming through with Saturday’s largest combined catch of 21.52 pounds.
That included reeling in the biggest fish of the day—and the entire tournament—at 5.28 pounds.
But while Sunday’s total of 18.88 pounds was nothing to sniff at, it still left them with a second-place total of 40.40 pounds and a weekend bank account boost of $2,800 ($2,500 for second and $300 for Saturday’s big fish).
Al McTaggart of Fort Frances and Ryan Haines from Sioux Narrows (Team #52) went from fifth after Saturday to third on Sunday with a total of 39.56 pounds, earning $1,400.
Tom Pearson of Fort Frances and Devlin’s Eric Lessman (Team #58) were tied for second with Norm Lindsay and Kari Hicks from Sioux Narrows (Team #35) after day one at 20.84 pounds, but neither duo could find the big fish they needed Sunday.
Pearson and Lessman settled for fourth with a total of 38.92 pounds to earn $1,000 while the husband-and-wife team of Lindsay and Hicks finished fifth with 38.76 to pocket $750.
A total of 553 fish were caught during the tournament, with a combined weight of 1,716.55 pounds.
Meanwhile, the catches weren’t as big but the excitement was just as high at the fifth-annual Rainy River Walleye Tournament over the weekend.
Mark Chapman and Kent Christianson of Baudette, Mn. held the hot hand as the pair reeled in a two-day total of 20.92 pounds to take home the $15,000 first prize.
Brian Ney of Baudette and partner Dan Stier from Pierre, S.D. took second place with a total of 17.12 pounds, collecting $6,500.
And the Rainy River duo of Troy Dalseg and Brent Westover gave the hometown crowd a thrill with their third-place finish (16.64 pounds) to earn $3,000.