Things I learned at the bass tournament

?I began volunteering at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship by directing traffic in the morning and talking to the anglers.
They are the most optimistic group in the world. Every day they look forward to fishing and at the end of the fishing day, they look forward to sharing their stories with each other.
Some of the stories might be embellished but after last week, I now can believe more of them.
My next volunteer job was being a starter at the Point. Nothing beats being on the lake there at 6 a.m. and watching the sun rise over Sand Bay.
By the time the fishermen arrive, they’ve had their Tim’s with double double. They are ready and eager to fish.
Sand Bay often has rolled in the morning with a strong east wind, but that doesn’t deter these fishermen. Their boats are designed to fly.
Every captain probably has as many take-offs and landings as an Air Canada pilot—they just don’t have a lot of air time.
My captain only launched his boat 23 times out of the water on Saturday.
From being the starter, I then became the person who corresponded and signed up anglers (the exact title is Angler Services). In the dead of winter, I would get calls from anglers wanting to talk fishing.
They were bored with the weather and snow, and fishing on Rainy Lake always was the topic.
Many a conversation would begin: “How much ice is on the lake?” followed by “When do you think the ice will be out?” And then we would talk about the previous year’s tournaments and what happened, where they fished, and the things they learned about fishing for bass on Rainy.
As a novice bass fisherman, entering the tournament with John Maffei, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch fish to help my partner. After all, John has been a tournament fisherman for decades and helped get the FFCBC started when he was stationed here with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
I learned that the best-laid plans for catching bass from pre-fishing could disappear overnight. What the fish were doing on Wednesday could change on Thursday.
I learned that it’s difficult to change your fishing when the wind changes from the north to the southwest, and travelling Rainy Lake can be a challenge.
I learned that when you have a mayfly hatch the evening preceding the tournament, a really good lure to use is a Mepp’s Agila in silver or gold with a buck-tail. We caught all the fish on those two lures.
I learned that the great Northern Pike is a jewellery hound. They really like “bling” dangling from their mouths.
Everything that I thought I knew about walleye fishing disappeared on the first day of pre-fishing.
I had been told that you only find walleye in deep water by this time of year. They might be shallow immediately following spawning but by July, you have to fish deep water.
Well, I can admit that all the walleye that were caught were trophies. In fact on Saturday, five of the walleye we caught came out of three feet of water or less, in weeds, in rocky shoreline, and on top of wave-breaking rock reefs.
It’s a heck of a thing to curse catching a trophy walleye.
I learned that fishing for bass is a game of patience. It can take a lot of time to catch five fish.
?I learned by watching my blood sugar that bass fishing is an athletic activity. When you cast and reel in a line 10-12 times a minute, and you do that for seven hours, you do expend considerable energy.
My final volunteer job with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship was being chairman. I witnessed the start of each day, as well as the closing down of services under the tent at 2 a.m.
My stomach churned worrying about all the responsibility I shouldered. Any number of things can go wrong in which you have little control.
The stress took a toll on my health and speaking with other past chairpersons, they faced similar health issues.
However, fishing the bass tournament as an angler in one year probably added back to my health all the toll of being chairperson had removed. Fishing as an angler is the best position in the tournament. Even if you fail to catch a single fish, being on the water, learning, and relaxing make it all worthwhile.
And when you come under the tent and are cheered by the crowd for being from Fort Frances, there is no feeling like it in the world.
Will I return? I certainly think I’ll try and fish the 2010 FFCBC.

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