Keszlers comeback no laughing matter

The night before the final day of the 10th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, in an overcrowded room at the Rainbow Motel, it was said and it was heard.
The top two teams in John Guzej and Ted Stewner and James and Bill Lindner, were joined by the 10th place team, Alex and Darrell Keszler. They spoke and listened, enjoying each other’s company, when something funny happened.
“I jokingly said in the room that if we can get a big bag tomorrow (Saturday) we can come up with you guys and then finish in the top three. I had just said it as a joke, and there was no real honesty behind it,” said Darrell Keszler.
“I didn’t mean in it as a serious comment, but I did have it in the back of my head as a scenario.”
Coming into the final day, in 10th position and 6.64 pounds from first place, the father and son team from Winnipeg, approached the day with a relaxed attitude and tried not to let the pressure get to them.
“We went out and fished a lot calmer than most people would, and we fished very slow,” said Alex Keszler. “We just went out fishing. We started getting a little pattern going that seemed to work and we weren’t scared to try different things.”
Their strategy paid off as they hauled in a 17.46 pound bag, and jumped seven spots to grab the third spot and the cheque for $12,000. And turn Darrell into the Miss Cleo of the FFCBC.
“My son hit the nail on the head when he said, ‘The three teams that are sitting in this room, it would be so awesome if we finish in the top three.’ And it’s such a dream come true because we’re such good friends,” said father Keszler.
Thinking that they were not going to ride through the tent also relieved them of pressure. They were told, before they went out, that only the top seven teams after the second day would ride through the raucous crowd and that allowed for a day on the lake that was more focused on family and less on competition.
“Honestly we fished like a bunch of old men in the boat. We just sat down and talked the whole time,” said Darrell Keszler, “but it’s really funny how it all turned out.”
“I’ll tell you what. Family is the most important thing in life. When you get to just be in the boat with your son and fish for a week and enjoy each other’s company, it’s something special,” said Alex Keszler, who’s motto is the three F’s—family, friends and fishing.
“To climb the ladder like we did, and have a great tournament, cannot be put into words for me,” he added.
Going into their fourth tournament as partners, the Keszlers had their sights focused on making the top 35 (something they hadn’t yet accomplished), but never expected to do as well as they did.
“We were talking on the way over here, not to sound cocky, but we said that the top 35 shouldn’t be that hard to make,” said Darrell. “This year we set our goals for the tent and we did ever better, so I’m just so happy right now.”
It wasn’t easy though. And that sentiment was shared by most of the 276 anglers that participated in this year’s FFCBC.
“There were some good bags of fish but overall the consensus from all the anglers was that this wasn’t easy fishing,” said Alex Keszler. “You don’t catch the number of fish that you used to because of a whole bunch of different things. So it was hard, but we kept plugging away.”
The Keszlers were tied for the 40th spot after the first day with 14.04 pounds but regrouped with a 16.16 pound showing in the second day, and the rest as they say, is history.
“This is as close to winning you can ever get because this event is so huge. Me and my son Darrell had a blast here. The town is so behind this tournament and supporting the anglers. This is such a great feeling being here,” Keszler said.