Minnesota anglers win Falls tourney – District pair take second

FORT FRANCES—It was a record-setting day as the second-annual International Falls Bass Championship wrapped up Saturday.
John Janousek and Chad Johnson finished atop the field of 60 teams with a two-day combined weight of 30.75 pounds—earning themselves the $10,000 (U.S.) first-place cheque.
The duo’s catch easily eclipsed the standard set at last year’s inaugural tournament, in which Scott Dingwall and Jeff Gustafson caught 27.73 pounds en route to the championship.
Janousek (from Nisswa, Mn.) and Johnson (from Rogers, Mn.) felt like fate might be on their side heading into the second day of the tournament based on their good luck Friday.
“Our day started out yesterday [Friday] with a real big fish,” Johnson said. “He jumped right at the boat, the bait flew out of his mouth, and John caught him in the net.
“It was kind of a good omen to start on.”
The team’s good fortune held throughout the first day as they managed to net an impressive 15.55 pounds—leaving them in second place heading into final day of the competition.
Unlike most fishing tournaments, the International Falls Bass Championship requires anglers to compete on two separate bodies of water.
Half of the teams fished Rainy Lake on Friday while the other half fished the Rainy River. The teams then switch venues on Day 2 of the event.
Janousek stressed the importance of being able to get good weights on the two different bodies of water.
“You’ve got to get them on both bodies of water to be consistent,” he said.
“Yesterday [Friday] when we had a good bag off the lake, we thought ‘We’re in contention, now we’re just going to go out, fish the river, and see if we can get some good ones there.’”
Unlike last year when Janousek and Johnson struggled to find fish on the Rainy River, the pair netted a solid weight of 15.20 pounds this time around.
“We found some spots on the river last year,” Johnson said of their vast improvement fishing the Rainy River.
“Some of those spots helped out this year. A little experience helps out,” he reasoned.
Their catch stowed safely in the live well, the duo returned to the site of the weigh-ins at Smokey Bear Park to see if they had enough weight to win the title.
Both anglers waited nervously as 58 other teams weighed in before them.
“That was nerve-wracking,” Johnson said of the wait. “We didn’t think we had quite as much as we did.
“We figured it was going to be close,” he added.
Their fears proved unfounded, however, as they easily surpassed the mark of 28.57 pounds set by then leaders Dale LaBelle and Karl Howells to claim the title.
The top duo from Rainy River District at the tournament, LaBelle and Howells did not fall far down the leaderboard. They ended up in second place, earning $5,500 (U.S.)
As well, their Day 2 bag of 17.01 pounds was the heaviest one-day catch in the tournament’s brief history.
Dingwall and Gustafson, meanwhile, put in a strong performance as the defending champs, this year finishing third with a two-day combined weight of 26.62 pounds—netting them $3,000 (U.S.) in prize money.
Mark Fisher and Scott Bonnema finished fourth with a total weight of 26.50 pounds and took home $1,900 (U.S.)
Rounding out the top five was the team of Duane and John Peterson, whose two-day total weight of 25.53 pounds earned them $1,300 (U.S.)
Dave Genz and Larry Bollig pocketed $500 (U.S.) for netting the big bass on Day 1—a 4.31-pound lunker.
Dave Skallett and Steve Ladany had the big bass on Day 2 with their record-setting fish of 4.82 pounds.
Mike and Ryan Teigen won $500 (U.S.) for having the big bag on Day 1 (16.71 pounds).
As winners of the International Falls Bass Championship, Janousek and Johnson earned an automatic berth into the 2007 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)