It’s a go!

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

Bass tournament committee votes to proceed

In a meeting Saturday, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship committee voted to proceed with the tournament. High water levels had paused their decision for quite some time, but July 2 was their firm date to decide whether to proceed or not.

Co-chairman Wayne Allen says launching the boats in town won’t be a problem, but the rapids might be. Although he’s wary of a few things, he’s still hoping for the best.

“I’m a little skeptical about the water levels,” says Allen. “But it looks like it’s coming down, and we’ll have the tournament and everything.”

Greg Gustafson, director of angler relations says he measured an 18-inch decrease from the water level’s peak, and that it is expected to decrease another 14 inches over the next week or so.

“Hopefully the water keeps going down by tournament time and works out for everybody,” says Gustafson.

He says they’ve got a number of options to cover the various problems that might come up.

“I think we’re in good shape,” he says.

With events being cancelled or altered on account of flooding, Gustafson says he’s looking forward to bringing some festivity to Fort Frances.

“It’s a nice event for the town,” he says. “I think the bass tournament will help fill a big void.”

The tournament will be three days of bass fishing from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 23. Bags are primarily smallmouth, as Gustafson says they’re much easier to find on the lake. That being said, largemouth are still accepted, and some anglers will specifically target them since they generally trend heavier.

Boats launch at 5 a.m. every morning from the Sorting Gap Marina, and flights leave at 6:30. Weigh-ins begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and at 3 p.m. Saturday with the top-10 boat parade concluding the event.

Based on 100 teams, the tournament champions will take home $10,000. There are cash prizes for the top 20 teams, along with daily and special prizes, for a total cash payout of $52,500. All entry fees are turned back to the fisherman.

Allen expects there to be 100 teams registered by the time the fishing starts, which he says is about average. As of Saturday, there were 88 registered teams. Among the list of names is former Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien who has fished the tournament once before in 2011.

Apart from the fishing, Allen says the Allure Drag Show Spectacular will perform Thursday evening. Friday night will be the Quest for the Best singing competition. Allen says there will be an inflatable castle up on the hill, and the usual attractions like the beer gardens and food trucks. He also says there will likely be a team dance Wednesday night.

Allen says there’s lots of work to do over the next few weeks — there’s lots to order since the event had been up in the air until just recently.