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.