Last-minute entry intent on winning bass tournament

He sits relaxed this afternoon. He has just finished up with a win on the Silverado, and earlier this month with a high finish at the Dennys tournament.
Ted Capra is on a roll–although in his eyes, he isn’t doing as well as he had last year.
Fishing tournaments throughout southern Minnesota and the southern states, Capra last year finished high enough to win five boats and more than $150,000 in prizes.
One of those wins, as he admits, he owes to Jimmy Lindner.
That was at the Kenora Bass International (KBI) last year. Al Lindner had dropped out and Capra filled in as a last-minute replacement.
“Jimmy did all the work. He mapped the lake, picked the spots, and I came along for the ride,” Capra recalled.
This year, he is fishing with Al Meline in this week’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship. And again it is a last-minute thing.
“My sons [Tony and Dean Capra] have wanted to fish this tournament for several years. Our schedules have conflicted,” he explained.
His sons were the next team on this year’s waiting list, and have already declared they hope to fish here next year. This weekend, the pair are filming a television show in Canada.
“The only reason I’m here is because Al Meline invited me,” Capra said. “With Al guiding, we can’t miss.”
But he also knows most of the field, and pays the contestants a lot of credit.
“Those Lindsays are fantastic. They are as tough as they get,” he said. “[And] Jim Moynagh is unreal. He has won over $400,000 in tournaments in the past year.
“Joe Thrun, his partner, is really good, too,” he added
Still, Capra said Jimmy Lindner is maybe the best smallmouth fisherman that he knows.
“If the fishing has been tough, he’ll figure something out and will try lots of different things.
“He knows more about them [smallmouths] than anyone,” he continued. “He really wants to win this tournament. Jimmy and Al will be really tough.”
Capra said he’s here for the fun, adding people don’t know how good the fishery is up here.
“You hear about those seven-pound bass on southern lakes but in competition, you’ll see catches of only 1.5 pounds and everyone is excited.
“The fishing up here is so much better,” he enthused. “Those big fish are few and far between. Those southern lakes just don’t have the stringers of 3-3.5 lb fish that have been common to this tournament.”
Capra said when the competitors at the Silverado heard he was heading up here, they were really envious.
He is curious about Rainy, and how the fishing has been going. And when he hears that Jimmy Lindner has said the best way to fish Rainy this year is to start as if you have never fished here before, he goes into a story.
“You know, local fishermen seldom ever win in their own lake,” Capra observed. “The reason is we all get into our own milk run of holes to fish.
“The stranger shows up and doesn’t know where to fish and then goes out and checks spots locals have given up on years ago. And now fish have come back,” he added.
“I’m as guilty as anyone on that one on my own lake,” he said. “Strangers find things.”
The Capra family has developed the “fish eye” for looking for fish. In Kenora, he recalled how Jimmy Lindner used it to determine how the fish were positioning themselves to structure.
And later in the tournament, he used that information to develop his fishing strategy.
“The camera is only a tool. You move very slowly,” Capra stressed. “It will tell you if the fish are there, and how they are adjusting to current, wind, and cover.
“But it can’t persuade any fish to bite. When they stop biting, you can’t do anything,” he said. “Fishing is really tough then.”
You know Capra has been fishing for a long time–it’s a subject he doesn’t seem to grow tired of. And he was teaching as he was being interviewed.
“There was this kid on Lake Minnetonka [his home lake] and he was fishing along the shore, when everyone else was fishing deep, and he pulled a 3.5-pound bass out of three feet of water.
“There are so many patterns, and so much to think about when you’re fishing,” he remarked.
Meline was getting his maps laminated, and the two were circling spots on the lake, particularly the area north of the Noden Causeway. Meline, from his first tournament on the lake, had spots marked and others he wanted to try.
Capra, meanwhile, was intent, picking off gravel beds and straits with potential current.
They were going to use the “fish eye” to help check those places out, and learn about Rainy’s current crop of “smallies.” Their pre-fishing has been narrowed down to three days but Capra was intent on capturing this year’s tournament.
The sparkle and the hunt for the bass was there–and the challenge of a new lake and competition held his full interest.