The good times kept on rolling for Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson and Scott Dingwall over the weekend.
Gustafson of Keewatin and Dingwall of Kenora claimed their fifth International Falls Bass Championship title on Saturday afternoon under a packed tent at Smokey Bear Park.
“We only had two fish at noon,” Gustafson recalled.
“It was stressful. We wanted to win and it worked out . . . It doesn't always work out.”
But things picked up for the pair, however, and they were able to weigh five fish on Saturday, which brought their tournament total to 41.37 pounds.
Gustafson and Dingwall also successfully defended their title from last year, when they reeled in a three-day total of 43 pounds.
“You just don't know what the day is going to bring,” Gustafson conceded.
“Until you get a couple in the boat, it's pretty tense out there.”
Going into Saturday, the team was in second place behind John Ruud and Eric Ruud of Chisholm, Mn., trailing by over a pound.
“We knew we had some ground to make up,” said Gustafson.
“Those guys had something pretty sweet going. They had an amazing day again.”
The Ruuds finished second with 39.61 pounds.
Taking third was a familiar face to IFBC winner's circle—Travis Peterson and his brother, Craig Peterson, who hauled in 32.82 pounds.
“We knew the best we could get was third place,” said Travis.
“The top two teams had quite the bag and we knew that'd be hard to beat . . . So we went out there and tried to get third and that's exactly what we did.”
It is becoming more and more difficult to knock Gustafson and Dingwall off that top slot.
The pair have more IFBC wins than any other team and have taken home more than $70,000 in prize money in the 14 years of the tournament.
“We're going to keep coming back,” Gustafson remarked.
“[Scott] is my best buddy and it's fun to spend this time together . . . We really enjoy this tournament.”
Calvin McKay and Dan Fontenot were fourth (32.45) while Duane and John Peterson of Bemidji, Mn. rounded out the top five (32.24).
Jon Balaski of the Falls and Eric Olson placed sixth (32.12), with Jeff Hamilton and Shawn Sirotiak in seventh (31.34).
Zack McBride of Fort Frances and Jamie Krukoski finished eighth with 30.49 pounds while Devin and Travis Stromness of Fort Frances were just behind in ninth (30.45).
Matt Goldamer of Fort Frances and Chad Reynalds rounded out the top 10 (29.94).
Teams were divided over pre-fishing success, some saying it was solid while others weren't too satisfied.
Dingwall admitted pre-fishing wasn't great for his team.
“We had one decent day, but the others were pretty bad,” he remarked.
Gustafson said on a few of those days, they didn't catch a bass over three pounds.
“That's just how it goes sometimes,” he reasoned.
The junior Peterson team saw challenges pre-fishing, too.
We only caught a few fish," Travis said.