Hometown boys top bass tourney

And the winners are . . . Denis Barnard and Clint Barton.
For the first time since the beginning of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship six years ago, a hometown team claimed first place with a three-day total of 55.40.
“I am flying, I wanted to do this so bad. I felt so good [when they announced us as the winners], I can’t even put it into words,” enthused Barnard after being told two-time reigning champions, Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun didn’t bump them out of first place during the final weigh-in at the Sorting Gap on Saturday.
Barton shared his partner Barnard’s enthusiasm.
“I am exhausted and I don’t know what to say . . . we won it and I can’t believe it,” shouted an excited Barton from the stage to a crowd of over two thousand people, all electrified by the local anglers victory.
Barnard and Barton set the standard on the first day of the tournament, leading the pack with a 19.72 pound basket. But they then dropped to second place after they weighed in a 16.08 pound basket on the second day, falling behind reigning champs, Moynagh and Thrun.
The third day Barton and Barnard changed strategies and headed to south arm of Rainy Lake after not having any luck in the first two places they fished.
“The fish just aren’t biting today,” said Barnard while preparing to head to yet another fishing hole there.
It didn’t discourage them a bit–they brought in a 19.60 pound basket at the end of the third day, putting them in first place and leaving the crowd biting their nails as Moynagh and Thrun weighed-in.
“They brought in two buckets over 19 pounds,” noted Moynagh. “When they were weighing-in, we thought they had more,” he added.
“I knew it was close . . . we knew that if they had under 18 pounds it would be close. If they were over we knew they were going to win,” said Thrun. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed … but second place beats 130 other teams.”
Moynagh and Thrun fished consistently throughout the three-day tourney, bringing in no less than 18 pound baskets each day. But clearly it wasn’t good enough to put them over the top.
“The best three days of fishing were in the tournament. We got on them at the right time . . . we were very consistent,” said Moynagh.
“We didn’t have one big fish to put us over the top and that hurt us. This year we didn’t have a place where we could go and catch four or five pound fish,” he added after the team was announced as second place finishers.
“Actually, it was really tight with all the anglers . . . we had a nice bag–we just couldn’t get a big bag. I have to hand it to these guys, they really showed some people how to fish. It is good to see these guys bring it to Fort Frances,” said Moynagh.
“I have been on the other side of the table, we have been lucky the previous two years . . . this year we were short,” he explained. “We will be back next year, I know so.
“Joe and I, before we went up on stage, estimated we had 54-55 pounds. Each one that fell below 54 pounds, we said ‘Good, one less person we need to beat,’” Moynagh remarked.
Barnard admitted he knew the competition against last year’s champs would be close, but he never thought it would be a matter of mere ounces.
“I was watching the scale and knew that it was gonna be really close . . . just not that close. I just really wanted to bring this to Fort Frances,” Barnard enthused. “The young fishermen coming up need to know that they can do this too.”
Barnard and Barton received an extra $6,000, which brought their winnings to a total of $31,000. They received a $1,000 for each of the following: Big Catch of the Day on the first (19.72) and third day (19.60); Top Rendezvous Trail team; Top Lund Mercury team; Top MinnKota team; and Top Finishing Kid-Pro team.
Despite the money at stake, neither was involved in it for the purse– although they will both put it to good use.
“I never even thought about the money, I just wanted to put on a good show,” said Barnard.
“I have a lot of bills to pay,” he laughed when asked what he would do with his share of the money. “I am going to take my wife on a trip and then probably save the rest.”
Both Barnard and Barton showed their excitement about returning in next year’s tournament.
“We are already looking forward to next year’s tournament,” gushed Barton.
Meanwhile, in an upward trend, this year anglers have been reeling in weights generally greater than in previous years.
“The 1995 winning tournament weights wouldn’t have even placed in the money [top 30 positions],” said FFCBC Director Linda Plumridge.
“The 40th place of that year wouldn’t have even made the cut [top 90 positions],” she added.
But while the top two teams had impressive hauls, the third place team of James and Al Linder, with a three-day total of 51.44, were markedly behind the leader by about four pounds.
Fourth place was awarded to Norm Lindsay and Jess Swenson with a net weight of 50.79 and Ted Krause and Jimmy Bell placed fifth with a final weight of 49.82.
Previous winners of the FFCBC tournament are Dave and Norm Lindsay in 1995 and 1997, Gary Lake and partner Randy Amenrund in 1996 and Moynagh and Thrun, 1998 and 1999.