Fishing duo wear passion for angling on their sleeves

Although they’d been off the water for less than an hour last Saturday afternoon, Scott Bonnema and Mark Fisher didn’t have time for much post-tournament relaxation.
The duo, who placed 20th overall after day three’s final weigh-ins, did squeeze in a quick brew under the crowded beer tent before hightailing it back to MInnesota, ready to do it all again Sunday morning.
“We’d like to stay and party. Unfortunately we have a tournament again tomorrow,” an exhausted-looking FIsher said, glancing around at the mob of revelers who had gathered to take in the final few hours of bass festivities. He added the two would probably be out of bed, fishing rod in hand, ready to take on the waters of Alexandria, Mn. by 5 a.m.
But, tired as they may be, Fisher and Bonnema are clearly proud to wear their passion for angling on their sleeves–which they do quite literally.
Decked out in colourful outfits splattered with the logos of their numerous sponsors– including Rapala, Mercury, Ranger, Minn Kota, and, more recently, for Bonnema, Fuji Film–the partners spoke about how corporate sponsorship has helped them take their love of fishing to the limit.
“What it does for us is offer us the opportunity to have working capital to go out and participate in events,” Fisher related, adding that their sponsors cover the costs of their boat, equipment, and travel.
This corporate boost is what enables the two to participate in about 30 tournaments a year across the U.S–although, not usually together. In most other situations, Bonnema explained, both anglers would be paired up with an amateur competitor.
Over the years, Fisher and Bonnema have each proved themselves more than worthy of this corporate recognition. Fisher, who hails from Anoka Mn., won the 1994 Don Shelby International in Lake Minnetonka, Mn., and in 1999, he was named Silver Ado Pro-Am Angler of the Year.
For his part, Bonnema, from Forest Lake Mn., has won the Minnesota State B.A.S.S. numerous times as well as the Minnetonka Classic Championship and the Ado Pro-Am.
Here in Fort Frances, the partners stood out among the 130 teams vying for the top spots at this year’s tourney. Not only did they place respectably, their boat was voted best-looking rig at last Tuesday night’s parade.
But, as it was for many other teams, the fishing was uneven for the pair throughout the course of the derby. In particular, the change in weather threw them off at times on Saturday.
“Some other guys ahead of us faltered a bit on the second day, and we stumbled a little today,” FIsher said.
Nevertheless, this year was their best showing so far, and both said they were as glad as ever to have taken part.
“It’s by far the best tournament that we fish,” Fisher said. “It’s a great group of anglers, and there’s a real camaraderie.”
Bonnema was equally enthusiastic.
“The way the town comes together is great. The people here are just fantastic. Little kids come running down the street and ask ‘Are you fishing in the tournament?,’” he recounted, adding, “I like the challenge of fishing small mouth versus large mouth. They’re here one day and then gone the next. Mentally, it keeps you guessing.”
Both Bonnema and Fisher, who have now fished the FFCBC four and six years respectively, have no doubts about it when asked whether they’ll be back next year.
“No question. We’ll adjust our schedules to make sure we always come back,” Fisher promised.