Even though the first round of competition to become the World Fishing Network’s “Ultimate Fishing Town” is only about halfway over, things are looking grim for the local entry.
Fort Frances sat in 11th spot in the Ontario region with 402 votes as of Tuesday afternoon, well behind regional leader Nestor Falls at 5,841.
The overall leader is the West division’s Dauphin, Man. with 12,655 votes.
In short, Fort Frances has a lot of ground to make up if it is to advance to the next round of voting at www.wfn.tv/ultimate-fishing-town
The first round closes next Wednesday (Sept. 1) at 4 p.m. local time, with the championship round running from Sept. 7-28.
The top two vote-getters from the Ontario region will advance to battle the best of the Atlantic and West regions, with four “wild card” entries also advancing to the top 10.
The winning community will receive a $25,000 donation and be featured on a half-hour program produced by the World Fishing Network.
Nathan Ryan of Thunder Bay, who nominated Fort Frances for the honour, was disappointed in the slow turnout of voters so far but had some encouragement for voters based on the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
“People should vote because you guys have the biggest fishing tournament, I would say, in Ontario,” reasoned Ryan, 14.
“You get tons of tourists that come into Fort Frances to fish.
“We go out fishing all the time, and we’ve caught some big, big fish [on Rainy Lake],” he added.
Ryan acknowledged he preferred the fishing in Fort Frances as opposed to his hometown, which was ranked fifth nationally and second in Ontario with 2,452 votes as of yesterday afternoon.
“From personal experiences, and from talking to other people, our fishing isn’t really that great,” he remarked.
“I’ve gone fishing with my uncle here, and we were out on the boat for three-and-a-half hours in the middle of Lake Superior and we didn’t catch a single fish.”
Ryan didn’t have much experience with the leader at the halfway mark, noting he’d only ever driven through Nestor Falls.
Dorian Lindholm, who captured the 2010 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship last month, also was surprised at the low numbers, noting he had more stories from out on Rainy Lake than he could remember, especially with walleye and bass—among other varieties of fish available to be caught here.
“There are all species of fish around here,” noted Lindholm. “It’s all good.”
Meanwhile, Maureen Hanson, who nominated Nestor Falls with a population of about 300, was hoping the region would band together to help support her community’s bid.
“We’re quite pleased with how things are going, but we don’t want people to slow down on voting,” she stressed.
“We definitely would like everyone in the Rainy River District to get behind us.”
Hanson said the real challenge will come in the top 10 round.
“That is when we really need the votes to happen,” she remarked. “We just want to keep moving forward and the momentum to keep happening.”
Hanson noted a strong placing in the contest would help boost the town’s name on the fishing map while the prize money could be used to help keep it there.
“It’s the main industry in our town,” she explained.
“There’s nothing our town is known for other than fishing and hunting. It’s our identity,” she stressed.
“I think when everybody thinks of Nestor Falls, they think of a fishing story of some kind.
“The prize money would go a long way in helping promote us and bringing recognition to us,” Hanson added.
Hanson acknowledged the possibility of vote-splitting in the first round as other Northwestern Ontario towns, such as Sioux Narrows, Atikokan, Kenora, and Dryden, among others, also are vying for the top prize.
But Hanson hopes the entire region will throw its support behind the little town that could if Nestor Falls advances to the top 10.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not concerned because, of course, everybody wants their town to do well,” she noted.
“I’m just hoping that if we are successful in moving out of this round, that we will have support behind us.
“We’re the Davids against all the Goliaths,” she reasoned.
Hanson wrapped up by saying she will ensure that a vote will be cast for anyone wishing to vote but is unable to do so.
They can contact her at Hanson’s Wilderness Lodges at 1-888-383-5674 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
“If anybody is unable to vote on their own, if they would like to send us their e-mail addresses, we would be happy to vote on their behalf,” she explained.
“We would be happy to take the time to do it.
“We appreciate their support, for sure,” Hanson added. “We just take the work out of it.”