The number of boats seen in local motel parking lots continues to climb as visiting anglers flood into town in compete in the 16th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship next week.
The three-day tournament runs next Thursday to Saturday (July 22-24), but out-of-town anglers already have been trying to get a good handle on Rainy Lake through pre-fishing.
“They already started coming in the first part of July,” noted Bayview Motel owner Jack Mutz.
“Some of them who are going to be competing in the bass tournament are already here two or three weeks early.
“They practice fishing, and they don’t stay four or five days,” he added. “Quite a few of them stay three or four weeks.”
Mutz didn’t reveal how many FFCBC teams the Bayview tends to host each year, but did say many of those who set up shop there tend to be familiar faces—some even staying loyal since the tournament’s inception in 1995.
“We look forward to them every year,” he enthused.
“It’s repeat calls. They seem to book from year to year.
“Some of them have been staying with us ever since the bass tournament started,” he added.
Gord Sisco of the Rainbow Motel has noticed a similar trend since he took over as owner in 1997.
Sisco said he’ll have to explain to long-term guests, like out-of-town construction workers, that the rooms are unavailable during the bass tournament.
“We basically have to turn people away,” he remarked.
“We have to say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have a room for you for the next 10 days because these guys already picked their rooms.’
“They’ll [the anglers] come in and say, ‘Book me for next year.’”
The situation is a bit of a catch-22 for the local hospitality industry as more rooms certainly would be used during the tournament, but then would struggle to be filled at other times of year.
“I certainly don’t say, well, go and build four or five more motels or hotels so people can come and stay for the bass tournament because that’s only 10 days out of the year,” noted Sisco.
“It’s not economically feasible for any business to do that, but there aren’t any places to stay when the bass tournament is on.”
Even though the number of entries in the FFCBC dropped off from more than 150 last year to just over 100 this year, Mutz said he hasn’t noticed any decline in the number of teams staying at the Bayview.
“This year, it seems to be very good,” he noted. “I can’t see where it’s falling.
“If anything, we’re as busy as ever.
“A few might have dropped off, but there are others to fill in,” Mutz reasoned.
Sisco agreed, noting the 13 teams he has booked there is par for the course.
Mutz said getting a room at the Bayview in June, July, and much of August typically is a tough proposition. But the bass tournament week is an added challenge, considering many teams often book rooms well in advance.
“Especially July, we’re booked right up,” he stressed.
“Summer’s always good anyway, but the bass tournament brings in that extra, so we’re fully booked.
“[For the] bass tournament, we book them from year to year, so those rooms are reserved,” Mutz explained.