Tournament brings out community

Sometimes you can be taken fully aback by the generosity of a group of people.
On Sunday at the final weigh-in of the annual “Bassin’ for Bucks” tournament in Sioux Narrows, Joe Pritchett silenced the crowd when he asked them to chip in to help a tournament fisherman, Roy Lemay, who had fallen from a ladder and sustained several back fractures that will leave him a paraplegic.
Without hesitation, everyone in the crowd reached for their wallets and as Dorese Harrison walked through the crowd, holding a hat, it became heavier and heavier.
By the end of the weigh-in, the hat required two hands to hold it up and the cap brimmed over with financial support for the injured angler.
Not to be outdone, the tournament announced it would top up the support with the proceeds from that day’s profits.
True community support and spirit shone through from the community of fishermen and community in Sioux Narrows.
The annual “Bassin’ for Bucks” tournament has a different format than others in the area. Prizes are awarded each day for first through sixth finishes, with grand aggregate prizes awarded at the end of the third day of fishing.
The tournament may not have the hoopla of Fort Frances, Rainy River, or Emo, but it has a real community closeness.
That might be because so many of the anglers earn their living guiding at the lodges on Lake of the Woods and are part of the community of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls. It might be that they take so many out-of-town anglers into their homes and share the richness of experiences that they have accumulated in their lives fishing on the lakes of Northwestern Ontario.
It might be that the tournament goes out of its way to encourage husband-and-wife teams as well as parent-children ones.
Just as anglers arrive from across Canada and the United States in Fort Frances for the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, friends have drawn to Sioux Narrows fishers from the U.S. and Canada.
This year, for the first time in many years, the tournament had to suffer through summer weather. It may have mixed up the fish, but it put smiles on everyone’s face.
The winners, Bob Horley and Jim Fadden, who were in 37th place after the first two days of fishing, brought in a bag weighing 20.29 pounds midway in the final weigh-in. They then had to sit through the balance and watch the top 10 come into the big top.
Each of the top 10 teams were marked with the weight they needed to win, but the expectation that one of them would knock off Horley and Fadden kept disappearing.
Sunday was Rob Horley’s and Jim Fadden’s day. They probably have set a new record in bass tournament fishing coming from so far back in a bass tournament to win it on the final day.
Other community tournaments are still on the horizon. They include the Robert Ottertail Jr. tournament on Lac La Croix, the Crow Lake Classic, the Rainy River Walleye Tournament, and a new walleye tournament hosted by Naicatchewenin (Northwest Bay) First Nation in early October.

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