Sleeman duo claim KBI championship

Oliver and Jason Gibbons of Sleeman earned top honours–and the $20,000 first prize–with a 44.17-pound total weight at the annual Kenora Bass International derby on Lake of the Woods last weekend.
They posted catches of 11.76, 16.98, and 15.43 pounds–the latter two “big catches” of the day (each worth $750).
Bill Godin and Karl Howells of Devlin racked up 40.25 pounds to finish in third place–and earn $8,000. They fished consistently throughout the three-day derby, weighing in 13.24, 13.27, and 13.74 pounds.
Godin said the bite was extremely difficult for all 193 boats competing.
“The weights may have been a little bit low and it was like that all around,” said Godin, whose previous best finish at the KBI was 14th with Howells.
He added inconsistent weather was another huge factor in separating patterns they had found in their previous six days of pre-fishing.
“A lot of people commented the drop in weather affected the bite,” noted Godin, who said his team went from dressing light in the hot and humid weather earlier last week to full fishing gear for the chilly afternoons on the weekend.
“It was pretty much the same thing that happened at last month’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship,” he added. “But when weather changes like that you have to come in and learn to adapt.”
John and Reuben Gibbins of Morson finished in fifth place with 39.02 pounds.
Dale LaBelle and Jody Shypit, another Devlin team, took hold of 11th sport overall with 36.19 pounds, winning $2,400.
Rod Halliday and Brad Fairington of Fort Frances wound up in 27th place (32.97), and also won the “big catch” for day one with 15.01 pounds worth $750.
Meanwhile, Steve Ballan and Doug McBride, who captained the top two teams in the FFCBC last month, respectively, finished in 43rd spot after reeling in daily catches of 10.43, 7.62, and 12.21 pounds for a total of 30.26.
Ballan, who had regularly fished with McBride last season, had finished 28th last year.
At last month’s FFCBC, Ballan teamed with younger brother Kent and won the title while McBride fished with son Zack and came in second.
Defending champions Jeff Gustafson and Chris Savage from Kenora came in ninth place there. Other area anglers competing in the KBI included Mark and Rene Boileau, finishing in 62nd place, Greg and James Asplund in 79th, Paul Jewiss of Devlin and Dale Strachan of Emo in 165th, and Bill O’Leary and Missouri’s Bob Limberg in a distant 182nd.
The KBI boasts one of the larger fields in smallmouth bass tournaments in Canada, eclipsing the 130 entries at the FFCBC by almost 70 boats.