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Busy weekend for fishing tournaments

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This past weekend was a busy one across Sunset Country for anglers competing in fishing tournaments as four were taking place.

LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp on Rainy Lake hosted a one-day bass tournament on Saturday, and there was a two-day musky tournament in Nestor Falls, a two-day bass tournament at Shoal Lake, and the two-day Rainy River Walleye Tournament in Rainy River.

My good pal, Dennis Favreau, and I have fished the Shoal Lake Last Chance tournament together since 2001 so we have a lot of history fishing that event and have been fortunate to win it a few times.

There probably is no other lake that I enjoy fishing tournaments on more than Shoal Lake. It’s a good tournament lake as far as there being a lot of water to fish, as well as the option to target both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

We spent a couple of days practising for this tournament and hoped we could rely on some historically good spots, as well as mix in a few new ones that we might find, to give us some good fish over the weekend.

It’s amazing how things change from year to year because none of the spots that we caught fish off of last year produced any good bass this year. We focused on the same areas and caught quite a few fish, but not enough big ones to make a run at winning.

In the end, our 16-pound catches each day landed us in sixth spot. Still, it was a fun weekend and we really had a good time.

Jay Samsal and Scott Dingwall, meanwhile, continued their hot streak from this summer and won the tournament with a mixed bag of smallmouths and largemouths that came in at nearly 36 pounds for two days.

They have won several tournaments this summer and have the momentum really going on their side.

I fish with both of these guys quite a bit and they are as good as anyone I’ve ever jumped in the boat with, so it’s not surprising to me. My hat is off to them.

The teenager team of Brandon Scott and Mitchell Moncrief almost pulled off winning the tournament before ending up fourth—their first time fishing the event. They also had the big fish of the tournament—a 5.50-pound largemouth on Day 1.

Great job, boys!

In Nestor Falls, Dave Bennett continued the hot streak he has had this summer, winning the annual Musky Cup with partner Darcy Finlan.

This two-day event has teams measure and release their two best muskies each day. Bennett and Finlan were the only team to boat two muskies each day, earning themselves a $5,000 payday.

Mike Reid and Shawn Puddester of Sioux Narrows were second.

LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp, meanwhile, has hosted a one-day, three-fish bass tournament for the past several years and once again it had another great turnout. The Fort Frances team of Jason Cain and Dan Tucker brought in three smallmouths for 12.66 pounds to earn the win.

That is more than a four-pound average, which is not surprising for Rainy as it has so many four-pound-plus smallmouths in it.

And down in Rainy River, local anglers Jim Hall and Joey Bonhomme captured the 18th-annual RRWT for the first time—finishing the two-day event, 84-team event with a 16.69-pound total to earn the $15,000 top prize.

This coming weekend will feature a couple of more options for bass tournament anglers. There is a two-day event out of Whitefish Bay in Sioux Narrows on Saturday and Sunday and a one-day tournament in Atikokan on Sunday.

Anglers can sign up in the morning for the Whitefish Bay tournament, with tournament hours running from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.

The weather forecast this weekend looks great so I’m looking forward to seeing everybody out on the water!

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