Local businesses reap benefit from bass tournament

Bryce Forbes

With the Safeway KidPro tournament going yesterday, “Bass Week” is now underway here in Fort Frances.
Local fishing-related businesses say they see the benefits of more than 100 teams converging in town for the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
Pinewood Sport and Marine staffer Bob Fichuk thinks the tourney has a very positive effect on the business.
“We get a lot of service work out of it,” he noted. “People up here break down and fixing the boats for up to a week before the tournament.
“[Then] during the tournament, we get service work and it brings up boat sales.
“That’s probably the biggest thing for us,” said Fichuk. “It’s good exposure.”
“We don’t see a lot in tackle sales, but we see it a lot in confectioneries,” echoed Mark Fontana, owner of Rainy Lake Sports and Tackle in the east end of town.
“Every day, [the bass fisherman] are in getting gas, ice, and juices, things like that,” he noted.
“It’s always been a boost.
“Usually the week before and the week of, sometimes even a couple weeks before,” Fontana added.
Fichuk believes Pinewood Sports and Marine sees an extra 15 boats a week for servicing while Fontana estimates between 20 and 30 fisherman come into his store every morning.
“[The numbers] are consistent anyway,” said Fichuk.
“With the number [of participants] going down, it hasn’t increased the last few years, but it’s been pretty good so it’s a good thing,” he reasoned.
“We usually have people who come up here pre-fishing,” Fichuk explained. “They come in and get their boats serviced here.
“It’s very positive for the area,” he stressed.
“People don’t seem to pre-fish as much as they used to, probably because of the economy,” noted Fontana.
“We used to see a few more people up a little earlier but that doesn’t seem to be happening this year.
“We see a lot of the same guys every year, and they gas up and they take a lot of gas,” he added.
“There’s not a lot of profit in gas, but they pick up ice and water. It’s definitely beneficial.
“Everything seems to be pretty consistent this year over last year,” Fontana said.
Fichuk said Pinewood Sports sends a few staff down to the waterfront throughout the week to make sure the anglers overcome any unexpected problems with their boats.
“We go early down to the Sorting Gap Marina on Thursday and Friday, and then Thursday and Friday nights we stay there until everyone is off the waters,” he remarked.
“We are trying to get everyone going, and back on the water.
“It’s a busy time of the year and fun to try to fit everyone in, but the guys are here to fish so you do your best,” Fichuk reasoned.
“It’s definitely a benefit and I hope that it continues,” echoed Fontana.
“I’ve supported it [the bass tournament] for the 10 years I’ve been here and I continue to support it this year.”