Tournament Recap: Kenora Bass International

Pro Staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Carrying our big catch to the scales on day one.

Carrying our big catch to the scales on day one.

The 26th annual Kenora Bass International tournament took place this past weekend on Sunset Country’s massive Lake of the Woods.  The KBI is one of the premier open, team bass tournaments in North America. Since 2000 my good buddy Chris Savage and I have fished the tournament together.  We have been fortunate to have some great finishes over the years, including wins in 2000 and 2008 to go along with four 2nd place finishes.

This year we came out of the gates swinging—bringing in the largest catch of the tournament on day one, which weighed 19.78 pounds.  Our mixed bag of three largemouths and two smallmouths was one of the largest we have ever weighed in at this tournament, so we were obviously really happy with our start.

A big "cull" on day one-- changing a two-pounder for a five-pounder.

A big “cull” on day one– changing a two-pounder for a five-pounder.

We were challenged a lot more on day two.  After hitting all of the spots that produced on day one we did not have any big fish (anything over three pounds) in the boat.  But years of fishing this water and having a lot of spots to fall back on helped us round up five decent fish by the end of the day.  Our day two catch of 16.63 pounds actually increased our lead over second place to a little more than two pounds.

We were confident heading into the third day, and felt like if we could put together 16 pounds or so, we would have a good chance to win the tournament.  We couldn’t be conservative because there were a lot of good anglers right on our heels.  Day three ended up being a train wreck for us.  We caught a limit fairly quickly in the morning but they were all small fish (around two pounds each).  We stuck to our largemouth program for most of the day, trying to get those couple of good bites but it just didn’t happen.

I think it was a combination of us running out of fish, other angler pressure and the fish simply not biting in our area that lead to our demise on day three.  At the end of the day we finished in 9th place—which is still a solid showing at this competitive event, but we were obviously disappointed with the way we landed there.  That’s fishing though.

Over the three days we caught our largemouths on a ½ ounce Northland Jungle Jig with a five-inch Impulse Dip-Stick worm, and our smallmouths on a Jackall SK Grande Popper.  We weighed two or three smallmouths each day of the event.

August and her cousin Tara, the only all-female team in the tournament, with a big smallmouth on day one. They ended up in 54th place.

August and her cousin Tara, the only all-female team in the tournament, with a big smallmouth on day one. They ended up in 54th place.

The eventual tournament winners were Bill Godin and Leroy Wilson.  These guys have a history of winning tournaments around the Sunset Country Region and were able to bring in big catches of smallmouths each day of the event.

A huge Thank you to the tournament committee and volunteers for making another great event happen.  There was a huge crowd (over 1000 people) at the final day weigh-in so that was pretty awesome.  For bass anglers out there looking to take a trip to fish in one of the best bass tournaments in North America on the famous Lake of the Woods, this event takes place every year during the second week of August.  You can find all the information you need for this event at the tournament website – www.kbifishing.com.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Pulling into the dock for day two weigh-in.

Pulling into the dock for day two weigh-in.

Tournament Recap: Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship Win

Gussy and John with Trophy

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The 19th Annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship took place this past weekend at Rainy Lake.  On the border between Minnesota and Ontario, Rainy is one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries in North America.  I would call it the best topwater fishery on the planet for smallmouths!

Since 2007 Northland Fishing Tackle President, John Peterson, and I have teamed up at this event.  With several top five finishes in recent years, we were starting to feel the pressure to win this tournament.  We felt like we had been given the opportunity to win a couple times over the past few years but failed to seal the deal.  We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity if it happened again this year.

We had a great start to this three-day event—catching a five-bass limit worth 19.17 pounds to take the early lead after day one.  The weather on day one was really nice with light winds and some sun before a rain set in late in the day.  We hit as many points and boulder shorelines as we could while trying to hunt down big smallmouths, and caught most of our fish on a Jackall SK-Pop Grande using a  7’2”
Shimano Compre baitcasting rod (CPC-72MC) and a 6.2:1
Shimano Core baitcasting reel (CORE100MG) spooled with 30lb Power Pro braid.

Gussy and John with FishOn day two the wind really started to pick up; it wouldn’t let up until after the tournament was finished.  We struggled early on and finally put together a mediocre 15.90 pounds in the afternoon.  Because of this we slipped into fourth place after day two, but we were only about a pound off the lead so we were happy that we would have a chance to win the tournament heading into the final day.

We started day three on a point at which we caught several of our keeper fish on day two and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were some big fish on it that were willing to bite.  In the heavy wind, we used the same baits as on day two, relying on ½ oz spinnerbaits, particularly the Northland Reed Runner Pro Series.  We fished these baits quickly, covering water and looking for active fish.  When the big fish hit these spinnerbaits, they smoked them, almost ripping your arm off!  Within the first half hour we caught a limit that weighed over 18 pounds and throughout the day we were able to make a few upgrades to give us our biggest catch of the tournament.  Our day three limit of 20.35 pounds was enough to seal the win at this prestigious event!

To win this tournament was one of the highlights of my fishing career.  To do it with my friend John, a long time sponsor of mine was special as well.  We had a lot of fun and look forward to returning in 2013 to defend our title!

If you want to learn more about the tournament, you can visit the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship site here. Or, if you want to visit Ontario and get a taste for recreational smallmouth fishing visit Ontario’s Sunset Country’s site here.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Gussy and John with Fish