With the 2011 edition of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship edging ever closer, new chairman Gord Watson is looking to return the event to its roots.
Watson, who took over the reins from Tom Fry back in October, has been working hard with the rest of the committee over the last few months to set up this year’s event, which will run July 17-23.
“We’ve had twice as many meetings as normal, and we’re really putting our heads together and talking to a lot of anglers to try and do something to help bring the tournament back,” Watson said during an open house last Thursday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous.
“I think it’s been declining for a couple of years now, so we’ve brought in some new ideas and a new format, which is also bringing in some new fishermen, as well.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work to try and get the tournament back to where it should be,” Watson stressed.
Watson feels a major reason behind the decline of the FFCBC is the rocky economy, with many anglers choosing to enter smaller tournaments.
“You look at Kenora and they have an entry fee of $800, and some of the smaller events are around $400, while we’re at a $1,000 for entry,” he noted.
“With the way the economy is, anglers begin to start choosing those smaller tournaments because they’re more affordable, or maybe they also feel that an event such as this one is starting to get a little bit stale,” Watson reasoned.
“But with the different look that we’re bringing to this year’s event, I think it’s going to be good,” he enthused.
One of the major changes this year involves the prize board, as all three flights on the final day of the tournament now will have a chance to come away with money.
“Previously, over half the field had no chance of winning money on the third day, which meant there was little to no incentive from the anglers that were out of the running,” Watson explained.
“And it also made for a long day of fishing.
“Now even if you’re in last [place], you still have a chance to win money on the final day and it’ll be more that what your entry fee was.
“So that should give a team that isn’t in contention a chance to come away with some money.”
Another change will be to the venue, with the bar, weigh-in stage, and entertainment stage all to be located in the Ice For Kids Arena, rather than splitting the event between there and the ’52 Canadians Arena.
“Having the bar in one arena and the weigh-ins in the other arena was an issue [last July], along with the sound system,” Watson said.
“By keeping everything in the new arena, it should be make everything nicer and easier to access for everybody.
“It’s a big step for us, but hopefully it’ll work out in our favour,” Watson added.
While last Thursday’s open house drew more of the tournament’s sponsors rather than the anglers, Watson said local anglers have been fairly supportive of the changes.
“Even those that have yet to register have liked the new format, but they are mostly just taking their time to register and see how things progress,” Watson noted.
Watson also said 70 boats were registered for this year’s FFCBC as of last Thursday, with many of the entries being first-timers.