Gustafson, Dingwall first two-time champs at IFBC

Laurel Beager – International Falls Journal

Twice was nice for anglers Jeff Gustafson and Scott Dingwall on Saturday—the first team to repeat a win of the International Falls Bass Championship.
The duo took top honours, and the $10,000 prize, with a two-day total weight of 30.05 pounds.
They had won the inaugural IFBC back in 2005 with 27.73 pounds.
“If we would have lost one fish today or yesterday [Friday], we wouldn’t have won,” Gustafson noted.
“That was huge.”
Team #24, featuring International Falls angler Tom Burri and partner Eric Altena, finished in third place with 26.42 pounds.
The pair held the hot seat, marking a first-place weight at the time, on Saturday while the top 10 anglers from Friday were brought into the big tent on their boats.
Burri acknowledged that the anglers weighing in after them likely had larger bags.
“There are some great fishermen coming in behind us,” he noted. “We’re going to enjoy watching them come through.
“We’re going to win this one of these years,” he pledged.
Burri and Altena held onto the hot seat as several boatloads of anglers passed through the tent, including Team 13, Bill Godin and Ralph Galusha, who ended up with a total weight of 25.82 and sixth place.
But Team 24 finally was bumped when Team #7 (Travis Peterson and Steven Mattson) came through the tent.
The duo ended up taking second place with 27.59 pounds.
Mattson said they only had three fish by 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“You’ve got to put your nose down and stay optimistic,” he remarked. “We fished as hard as we could.
“You can never say die,” he stressed.
The team also was the runner-up in 2005.
“We haven’t changed a lot,” Mattson said about the years since the start of the tournament.
Much of their fish are caught by casting the banks and shorelines with jigs and plastic grubs.
“We come up here and try to find new spots, new areas to fish, and try to stay off places we know will put fish in the boat,” Mattson explained.
“Today, we had to go to Plan ‘Z’,” he added. “We went back to the stuff we learned a few years back.
“We caught a few fish in the last 45 minutes.”
They held the hot seat as several boats passed through the tent, including Team #25, Dan Thorstad of the Falls and Al Ansell, who took fifth place with 26.03 pounds.
They said they caught a lot of fish, but lost most of them. And they took a long ride on the lake, but only got one “smallie” for their effort.
“We shifted with the wind, counted on a south wind, but didn’t get it,” Thorstad said.
As the winning weight for Team #4 came onto the screen, Mattson joked that Gustafson and Dingwall had a habit of kicking Team #7 out of the hot seat, referring to 2005.
Team #4’s two-day total marked just the third time in the tournament’s six-year history that a weight had topped 30 pounds.
“It was a fun day,” said Gustafson. “We got every bite in that we had and that’s the deal with these tournaments.
“You can’t lose any, and we were fortunate all weekend that we didn’t lose any fish that hurt,” he noted.
But Team #4 wasn’t sure whether they had clinched the win.
“We got some good buddies and really good fisherman coming yet, so it’s not over,” Dingwall stressed.
“We’re happy where we’re sitting, but let’s bring these guys in.”
Team #17, Shawn Sirotiak and Jason Pavleck, followed Team #4 through the tent, with Pavleck’s young daughter, Aubrey, sitting in the bow with her hands covering her ears as the music blared.
But the team weighed in just 6.11 pounds Saturday for a two-day total of 20.60 pounds, putting them in 18th place.
“Our pattern just didn’t work,” Pavleck said of the day’s fishing.
“We got those two toward the end, probably 1 o’clock.
“We gave it everything we had,” he added.
Team #16, 2007 champs Dale LaBelle and Karl Howells, was the last boat through the tent, ending up with a total weight of 25.25 pounds to finish in seventh place.
“It was a tough day today,” noted LaBelle.
“We had a great day on the river [Friday] and thought we would just blast them today, but they blasted us.”
As Dingwall and Gustafson hoisted the trophy, the crowed rushed to the stage for photos and a closer look.
The team credited the volunteers and organizers of the event for putting on one of the best tournaments around.
“Scotty and I live to fish these tournaments in the summer, thanks so much,” said Gustafson.
“We love this place,” echoed Dingwall.
Emcee Chip Leer noted the team has never placed less than fourth in the IFBC.