Those of us who live in Northwestern Ontario, and have an interest in tournament fishing, are extremely lucky. We are blessed to have some of the finest fishing options—and some of the best events—in North America.
There are very few “open” tournaments in Canada or the United States that could rival the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship (FFCBC) or the Kenora Bass International (KBI) in terms of pay-outs, attendance, and social and economic impact to their communities.
Now, just about every community in the region plays host to a bass or walleye tournament at some point during the open-water season—and these community events have become very popular.
So how do new anglers become involved in tournaments? The first thing you need to do is flop down an entry fee. Some of the bigger events have large entry fees, but many of the smaller, local events are not that expensive.
Do not be discouraged if results do not happen overnight. There are some high-quality anglers in our area who have been playing this game for many years.
As a Christmas present back in 1992, my father entered the two of us in the 1993 KBI. It probably was the greatest gift I have ever received. We fished the tournament that first year with our goal being to weigh-in a six-fish limit each day.
I think we came up a little bit short there, but we did catch a few fish—and I had the time of my life. It wasn’t until our fifth KBI in 1997 that we finally cashed a cheque. We came in 40th place (the last money spot) and we were pumped!
Three years later, Chris Savage and I won the tournament—by far the highlight of my life.
Some anglers spend a lot of time on the water in order to season themselves before they enter any of these events. This is fine, and time on the water is the only way you will get better, but your learning curve will increase 10-fold the moment you enter a tournament.
You will fish harder and pay much more attention to small details.
Finally, just being around some of the guys that have been doing this for a long time is a great learning environment.
Tournaments are fun, and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about signing up for one to do it, whether you are a bass or walleye angler.
If you have, or know of a kid who absolutely loves to fish, take them in a tournament. You may hook them for life—like my dad did for me.
I have made so many great friends from fishing these events over the years and these friendships will last forever.
If walleyes especially interest you, Lund has started a neat deal called the Angler Young Angler (AYA) series. These AYA events have a small entry fee and put a lot of the emphasis on kids having fun.
The winning team from each regional event across Canada qualifies for a championship in Kenora in mid-August. You can look them up online at www.angleryoungangler.ca