Defending champs enjoy being ‘targets’

They have a big, red bull’s-eye tattooed on their backs.
James and Bill Lindner are the defending champions of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and everyone is watching them. Studying them. Noting their every action.
Cataloguing their every response and jotting down there movements.
They don’t mind, though, because they also are watching and critiquing themselves. They enjoy being targets. If you’re a target, it’s because you’re the best at that time.
So they will enjoy it. They will enjoy being hunted but, in the meantime, they plan to do a little hunting of their own.
On the fish, that is.
“It’s a confidence thing,” James Lindner said at the Rainbow Motel here Sunday in response to feeling any added pressure going into this year’s FFCBC, which hits the water tomorrow morning (Thursday) and wraps up Saturday.
“Actually, for most of the time, if I’ve won a tournament, it’s actually easier to win the second time than the first,” he added.
If that’s the case, then the other anglers might as well pack up their gear and head for home. But, of course, they won’t. Nobody in this tournament is that much better than anyone else—it’s just a question of who will be better this week.
“This tournament is so tough,” Lindner remarked. “There are a lot of tremendous anglers and they are at such a high calibre that it’s a real wrangle to win it.
“Last year we really had it wired tight. We had the right formula, the right plan, and we really had it fine-tuned,” he added.
The brothers from Minnesota have been pre-fishing Rainy Lake for the past few days now and all indications point to a tournament that will be one of the most challenging they have ever seen.
“We’re not catching anything close to what we were catching last year,” Lindner said. “In practice and the tournament, we were catching winning fish every day.
“But those fish aren’t doing what they were doing last year in the areas we caught them, but they could be doing them in other areas and that’s what we’re hunting for.
“It will make for a very interesting tournament,” added Lindner, who believes a total weight of 54 pounds will win the $50,000 first prize up for grabs this year.
The duo are meticulous in their pre-fishing, and are downright scientific when it comes to calculating and interpreting data from every day’s practice runs.
During their pre-fishing days, the Lindners only will catch a few fish from various locations and then go back every day to fine-tune the area.
Any information worth knowing is inscribed on their maps, which have markers and weight measurements for every fish caught, and then is studied comprehensively right up to tournament time, when they will lay out their plan.
The process is equivalent to a doctor (the Lindners) examining a patient (the bass population of Rainy Lake) every day for a week before making a diagnosis (trends of the population) and then prescribing the treatment (a game plan).
“There is a real thinking process in these tournaments,” stressed Lindner. “The best anglers have the ability to fine-tune their fishing presentations based on what the fish are doing right now and not what they did.
“You figure out what’s going on, and you fine-tune and develop your fishing patterns, and that’s where the tournament will be unquestionably won,” he remarked.
No two years are alike, so last year’s tournament notes would be totally useless in this year’s assessment. Hard work must be done every year in order to be better prepared for anything, or else you will get “smoked.”
“It’s a different program every year so you’ve got to figure a new game plan,” Lindner reasoned.
“If you fish memories, you will get smoked and die. Good tournament anglers do not fish last year’s fish at all in any shape, way, or form,” he argued. “We are fishing the fish that we saw in the last five days.”
And they have help when it comes to making those interpretations. The Lindner name is one you’ll find six times in the list of anglers competing here this week, making them “the family” of the FFCBC and giving them a definite (and fair) advantage over the other teams.
“We’re sharing and giving a lot of information within the family,” said Lindner. “So we’re fishing different portions of the lake and they’re fishing different portions, so we all get a good idea of what’s going on with the lake.
“We don’t care who wins as long as there’s a Lindner name up there.”
The family has placed in the Top 10 eight times in the tournament’s nine-year existence, with James and Bill winning it for the first time for the Lindner name a year ago.
“You have to consider that we’ve fished this tournament for 30 years, because we have three teams at 10 years,” said Lindner. “So it took us 30 years to win this thing.
“That’s how hard this tournament is to win.”
The Lindner name is famous in the fishing world. They are the founders of Lindner’s Angling Edge, an award-winning fishing program, and also were the owners of In-Fisherman Inc. before they sold it to Prime Media three years ago.
They are given a tremendous amount of respect in angling circles, but respect can’t catch fish. People and skill do. And come tomorrow, James and Bill will try to make it two in a row—matching a feat first accomplished by Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun in 1999 and 2000.
“We eat, sleep, and breathe it. That’s why we do well in these tournaments,” said Lindner. “To be in that tent? It’s hot. It’s really fun and quite a feeling, and we hope to get there again this year.”