River fishing cost us title

A number of teams from Sunset Country travelled across the border over the weekend to take part in the annual International Falls Bass Championship.
The tournament features a unique format because teams fish two separate bodies of water during the two-day event—one day on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake and one day on the Rainy River.
Half the field fishes one body of water while the other half fishes the other.
A coin flip at the rules meeting between the first- and second-place finishers from the previous year determines where the odd- and even-numbered teams fish on Day 1.
The 2009 event went off without a hitch and was considered a success by all who attended. The crowds for the weigh-in were large, and the fishing was pretty good overall.
It is a very fun event.
Capturing first place was the International Falls team of Ted Olson and John Cann (Ted has a history of successful finishes at a number of tournaments here in Sunset Country).
They fished the river on Day 1 on Friday and brought in a five-fish limit weighing 11.58 pounds which put them just outside of the top 10.
Then their Day 2 catch on the lake on Saturday was the best in tournament history—weighing in at 16.52 pounds that sky-rocketed them to the top.
Scott Dingwall and I have fished the tournament together since it started in 2005 and have had a streak of good finishes over the years. We spent three days practising last week before the tournament—one day on the river and two days on the lake.
The river has been our nemesis the last few years, but we felt we would be able to scrap together five decent fish.
Our practice day out there was marginal, but we found some pretty good fish up near the dam we figured we could rely on.
Because we felt the chance for a really big catch was better on the lake, we spent most of our time there and got it dialed in pretty good.
This strategy turned out really well on the first day as we brought in a tournament record catch (broken by Olson and Cann the following day) off the lake and led the way with 16.39 pounds at the halfway point.
Alas, our river fish did not hold up and we struggled to catch five fish.
We ended up bringing in a measly 8.65 pounds that landed us in fourth place overall.
Looking back, we should have put a little bit more focus on the river in practice to find more fish. Historically, the river kicks out most of good catches at this tournament but this year proved otherwise.
Water levels were nearly 12 feet higher than they were last year, and all the extra water gave the bass a lot of places to hide.
We spent a significant amount of time pounding the bank and the fish were not there. We should have moved out a little bit deeper and tried to find structure in the middle of the river, but in a tournament day when things aren’t going that well, the day goes by very quickly.
We’ll be back next year and we’ll get that river figured out!
For the full tournament results, visit www.ifallsbass.com

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