Godin and Gustafson repeat as I-Falls bass champs

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

A pair of 20-plus-lb. bags for Bill Godin and Bryan Gustafson is bad news for everyone else. The two of them hauled in a collective 41.73 lbs this past weekend at the International Falls Bass Championship (IFBC), clinching their second consecutive victory at the tournament across the border.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Godin, who has now won the IFBC four times.

“Winning is tough to do. You’ve got to appreciate it when you do because you never know if it’s going to happen again,” said Gustafson.

The two of them have known each other for a while, and seem to be quite the tournament duo.

“Bill’s like family to me. I’ve known him as long as I’ve been alive — he’s a great guy,” said Gustafson. “The opportunity came about where we got to fish together, and we’re two for two now on that tournament, so I can’t ask for much more.”

“We get along good in the boat, and we’ve got some good ideas together,” said Godin. “We fished his spots and we fished my spots and it really seemed to work out great.”

Godin said the first day was slow, but they caught the right ones.

It was a similar story on day two. At noon, they only had about 10 pounds in the boat. Thankfully, the afternoon bite was good to them, and helped propel them to victory.

“Bryan put pretty much all the fish in the boat the first day,” said Godin. “But Saturday was a lot easier fishing, and I was able to come through with a couple big ones myself, so I was happy.”

Bill Godin and Bryan Gustafson hold up their winning plaques following their second consecutive victory at the International Falls Bass Championship on Saturday, August 26, 2023. They reeled in a two-day total of 41.73 lbs to secure a back-to-back victory south of the border. —Facebook photo

Both Godin and Gustafson are fresh off other tournament wins, with Gustafson winning the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship with Mike Luhman, and Godin winning the first-ever Mitaanjigamiing First Nation Bass Championship with Nolan Mann.

This past weekend, the two of them had 59 other boats to compete with, and many gave them a run for their money.

“The weights are getting bigger there for sure,” said Godin. “It’s gonna be hard to win this thing because everybody is getting on the same program now, and it’s showing. There was some big weights coming in.”

All but one team came back with full bags on both days. There were multiple 20-lb. bags, including a tournament record 23.70 lbs.

With that bag, Mike Wilson and Trevor Zimak — the pair who broke the record — jumped from 50th place after day one to finish 10th.

Godin and Gustafson’s first-place finish earned them a $10,000 cheque.

Steve and Scott Sandberg came in second place with 40.47 lbs, while Tony Jackson and Ian Waterer finished just behind them with 40.39 lbs.

“It is a well-run tournament. It’s unbelievable the people that come out to watch that tournament,” said Godin. “They do an awesome job. They put on a show that’s well worth going to see.”

“It’s my favourite lake in the whole world,” said Gustafson. “There’s nowhere I’m more at peace than Rainy Lake.”

The two-time defending champions have already paid their entry fee for next year’s contest and are eyeing a three-peat.

“Don’t sign up to not try and win,” said Gustafson.