Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson
The past few weeks have been pretty busy in my part of the World in Ontario’s Sunset Country Region. For a bass angler who enjoys competing in tournaments, we have some of the best open, team tournaments in North America, with several community run events taking place over the summer months that offer large fields and good payouts on some fantastic fisheries.
The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship (www.canadianbass.com) took place the last week of July on Rainy Lake. My friend John Peterson from Bemidji, Minnesota and I have fished this event together since 2007 and have had several good finishes before finally winning the tournament last year.
This year we showed up and Rainy was like a totally different lake, with water about four feet higher than it was last year. Most of the stuff we fished last year seemed to have too much water on it so we had to look around a bit to find some fish. After a couple of tough days of practice we found a few areas where the fish were super shallow in a rock and weed mix that is normally out of the water.
Over the course of the three-day event we brought solid catches to the scales for a total of 57.16 pounds and we managed to defend our title!
We caught most of our fish on a Jackall SK Pop Grande topwater popper by covering water, looking for active, biting fish. We mixed in a few fish that we caught on small tubes as well, mostly fish that rolled on the topwater and didn’t bite. It was a good follow-up bait.
This tournament has a competitive field that features a mix of tough locals and several pros from across North America.
This past weekend the Kenora Bass International (www.kbifishing.com) went down on Lake of the Woods. My partner for this event, Chris Savage and I have fished the tournament together since 2000 and have been fortunate to win this big event twice over the years.
For the second year in a row we totally bombed on the final day of this three-day event after sitting in 2nd place after the first two days. We brought in mixed bags of largemouths and smallmouths over the first couple days of the tournament and caught our fish on a variety of baits including wacky rigged Flick Shake Worms and Senkos, spinnerbaits and flipping Texas rigged Jackall Cover Craws.
The first two days we fished the darker water in the south end of the lake and then decided to gamble on day three and fish the west arm of the lake where we have had success in the past. We were fishing to try to win the tournament and it just didn’t work out. Sometimes those decisions pay off, other times they don’t. We ended up in 19th place in the 140 boat field.
These are both prestigious events that are a lot of fun for all the anglers involved. I would highly recommend both tournaments for anglers looking to visit an awesome bass fishery during our beautiful summer months and fish a tournament at the same time. Rainy Lake is probably the best topwater smallmouth lake that I have ever fished and massive Lake of the Woods has a mixture of largemouths and smallmouths spread throughout that are caught on a variety of tactics.
This week it is back to Rainy Lake again for the IFalls Bass Championship!
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 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).