It’s a birthday James Lindner won’t soon forget.
The Brainerd, Mn. resident, who turned 44 on Saturday, teamed up with his brother, Bill, to capture the ninth-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
The pair used three consistent days of fishing to top the 136-team field with a 55.46-pound total— taking home winnings totalling $30,000.
“It’s been a workout,” James said with a sigh of both relief and exhilaration.
“Every year, the quality of the guys that come to this tournament gets better and better.
“That’s not only including the ones from out of town but the local fishermen, as well,” he added.
“There’s a tremendous group of tournament anglers here.”^The Lindners earned $27,000 for first place, plus a bonus $1,000 for being the top Lund/Mercury team, another $1,000 for being the top MinnKota team, and yet another $1,000 for being the top team that had participated in the annual Kid-Pro tournament held the previous Sunday (July 20).
The duo had lurked near the top of the leaderboard for the entire tournament, sitting in second place after both Day 1 (19.02 pounds) and Day 2 (18.80) before racking up 17.64 more on Saturday to claim the title.
John Guzej and Ted Stewner of Winnipeg couldn’t hold their lead after Day 2—settling for second place with a total of 52.76 pounds after managing only 14.88 on Saturday.
“We decided to go for broke and went for a little run today,” said Stewner, whose team pocketed $15,000 for their runner-up result.
“The spots never panned out.
“But either you go for the win or you don’t go for the win,” he reasoned.
The Littlefork, Mn. team of Ted Olson and Bob Hell concluded their tournament-long improvement by coming in third with a 52.38-pound total after a final day catch of 16.80.
“We had a decent day, but we didn’t think we had enough to win,” said Hell, who along with Olson went from seventh place after Day 1 to fifth after Day 2 before earning the third-place cheque of $10,000.
Two anglers from Cheesehead country enjoyed the taste of fourth place—and a cheque for $7,500— as Scott Ourada (Little Suamico, Wis.) and John Allen (Green Bay, Wis.) reeled in 16.20 pounds on Day 3 to finish with a total of 51.94.
Dave Lindsay of Sioux Narrows and Colin Gluting of Winnipeg— fresh off winning the Shoal Lake Bass Classic near Kenora three weeks ago—delivered another strong tournament effort in finishing fifth at the FFCBC, winning $5,000 with a three-day total of 51.74.
“We figured we needed 20 [pounds], or at least 19.5 today,” said Lindsay, whose boat was the 81st to leave the dock Thursday morning but still finished Day 1 in ninth place.
“A lot of the schools of fish we were finding, there would be one big one, and four or five little ones,” he noted.
Bernie Zutter (Chippewa Falls, Wis.) and John Miller (Rice Lake, Wis.) took sixth place and $4,500 with a total of 51.60 for three days, barely nudging out the Minnesota pair of Scott Bonnema (Forest Lake) and Mark Fisher (Anoka), who turned a huge third-day catch of 18.42 pounds into a seventhplace showing (51.58) to earn $4,000.
John Janousek (Brainerd, Mn.) and Chad Johnson (Crystal, Mn.) went from early disappointment to have a monstrous last two days to wind up eighth overall with a three-day total of 49.50 pounds.
After finding themselves in 86th place with only 11.46 pounds after Day 1, the pair exploded for the tournament’s best one-day catch of 21.80 on Day 2, then followed that up with the biggest fish of the entire FFCBC at 5.04 pounds on Day 3.
Those two achievements netted the pair an extra $2,000 to go along with their $3,500 for eighth place.
The Fort Frances Times’ own Don Cumming and teammate Harry Bell were $4,000 happier by the end of Saturday—winning $3,000 for finishing ninth and a $1,000 bonus for being the top local team.
“We were very surprised teams like the Ballans [Steve and Kent], Doug McBride [with son Zack], and especially the Howards [Wayne and Dean] weren’t right in there,” said Cumming.
“Mostly, you just don’t want to get embarrassed, and at least finish in the middle of the pack and be presentable.”^Day 1 leaders Scott Cook and Jerry Millar from Winnipeg weren’t able to maintain their momentum Friday and Saturday.
But they still managed a 10thplace finish with a three-day total of 48.86 to claim $2,600, plus $1,000 for having the highest total of Day 1.
They also earned another $500 for tying Larry Bollig (Ham Lake, Mn.) and Jim Merthan (Woodbury, Mn.) for the big fish of Day 1 (4.92 pound).
Other separate prize-winners included Allen Kobylka and Greg Goodridge of Keewatin, Ont., who snagged Day 2’s big fish of the day (4.90 pounds) to win $1,000.
Meanwhile, Lee Erickson (Maplewood, Mn.) and Brian Hansen (Plymouth, Mn.) had Saturday’s best total catch at 18.88 pounds to also win $1,000.
Defending champs Norm Lindsay and Jess Swenson from Sioux Narrows rebounded well after a disastrous opening day—moving from 110th place at the end of Thursday to 39th overall by Saturday afternoon.
“We started out too deep on the first day,” said Lindsay, who teamed with Swenson to bring in a mere 9.78 pounds Thursday before coming through for 16.72 and 16.64 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“The last two days, all the catches we made were in shallow water.
“We’ll be back next year to try again. I’m not going to pre-fish as much next year,” laughed the three-time FFCBC champion, who holds more wins than anyone else in the tournament’s nine-year history.
It’s a birthday James Lindner won’t soon forget.