Wilson, Godin reel in IFBC title

Emily Gedde
Falls Journal

When Leroy Wilson and Bill Godin reeled in their fifth and final smallmouth bass Saturday, they knew they had a chance at winning the International Falls Bass Championship.
Wilson of International Falls and Godin of Devlin sealed the deal with a two-day total of 39.69 pounds of bass–four more pounds than the second place finishers–to become the champions of the 15th-annual event.
“[This feels] probably better than it did five years ago,” said Godin, who won the tournament with Dave Lindsay in 2014.
“We had a good idea that it would be very close . . . We knew other teams were going to have to do really good to pull it off.”
Wilson was grinning ear-to-ear following the win.
“This is great,” he said, shaking hands with other anglers who stopped to congratulate the new champ. “Something like this just doesn’t happen very often . . . When we caught our last one, I said, ‘Let’s go in.'”
The longtime tournament angler has been fishing the IFBC for 14 years and placed third in 2016 with partner, Larry Keep.
“I’ve been waiting awhile for this,” he said holding the trophy.
The two held the lead the entire tournament, finishing in first place Friday with 19.24 pounds of fish.
“We really didn’t catch a lot of fish each day,” Godin said. “We just caught the right ones.”
Finishing the tournament in second place were Troy Norman of Fort Frances and Andy Carlson of Emo, with a total bag of 35.12 pounds of smallmouth bass.
“We were fortunate all weekend,” said Norman, a rookie in the tournament.
After the first day of weigh-ins, the duo made a close run for the title, bringing in 19.18 pounds off Rainy Lake. They fell behind on day No. 2, however, reeling in 15.94 pounds of fish.
Nonetheless, the newcomers said they enjoyed themselves.
“It was a great time,” Norman said. “Rainy Lake puts out some beautiful fish.”
Rounding up the top three was the father-son team of John Ruud and Erik Ruud of Chisholm, Mn. with 33.63 pounds of fish.
Leroy Wilson wasn’t the only Wilson finishing in the top 10 this year. His son, Mike, took fifth place with partner Trevor Zimak after weighing a bag of 31.80 pounds.
“I’m proud of him,” Leroy said. “He hasn’t fished this tournament since we fished it together probably seven or eight years ago . . . It’s pretty cool.”
Missing from the winner’s circle was five-time IFBC champion Scott Dingwall, who finished in 10th place with partner Kalan Wagner. Dingwall’s usual partner, Jeff Gustafson, was competing in the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake in New York, where he finished second.
Dingwall said he knew his IFBC catch of 30.25 pounds wasn’t enough to seal the deal this weekend.
“We got five (fish) in there . . . they are not the right five,” he said. “We had to work for them.”
Others had to work for their fish, too.
“Every bite we got today was one at a time,” Craig Peterson said. “We fished hard and had fun.”
Craig and his brother, Travis Peterson, finished in sixth place with 31.59 pounds of fish. Travis won the tournament with his teenage son, Jace, in 2015.
Dave Skallet said he and his partner, Mark Fisher, lost a few fish Saturday.
“They were decent fish, they would have helped us a lot,” he said. The team finished in 14th place with a 29.71-pound bag.
Tim Bright and his son, Billy, of International Falls, said they switched up their game from Friday to Saturday, which ended up bringing in more fish.
“I got to thank these high school kids,” said Tim, the coach of the Bronco Bass Fishing team. “That’s the grounds we were at, where we always go…We got it done for [Billy and I].”
The two finished the 2019 event in 40th place with 23 pounds of fish.
One thing most teams appeared to agree on was how well run the International Falls Bass Championship is and credited all the volunteers who put the event together year-after-year.
“[This tournament] is on my calendar every year, I look forward to it,” Dingwall said. “Everyone involved should be proud of themselves. It’s first class, it truly is.”
The top 10 teams for the 2019 IFBC include:
•Bill Godin and Leroy Wilson, 39.69 pounds;
•Troy Norman and Andy Carlson, 35.12 pounds;
•John Ruud and Erik Ruud, 33.63 pounds;
•Steve Sandberg and Scott Sandberg, 33.06 pounds;
•Mike Wilson and Trevor Zimak, 31.80 pounds;
•Travis Peterson and Craig Peterson, 31.59 pounds;
•Dave Beckman and Roger Koopman, 31.43 pounds;
•Jon Balaski and Eric Olson, 31.04 pounds;
•Zack McBride and Jamie Krukoski, 30.90 pounds; and
•Scott Dingwall and Kalan Wagner, 30.25 pounds