If Day One was any indication, this year’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship title is Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman’s to lose.
The Deer Park, Wis. duo (Team #6) bagged a one-day derby record 22.28 pounds Thursday to grab an almost three-pound lead heading into the final two rounds of the FFCBC.
“We feel good where we’re at. We kept doing what we’ve been doing all week [during pre-fishing],” said Raveling, who in addition to their $1,000 big catch prize also weighed in the “big fish” of the day (5.46 pounds) to win another $1,000.
“It paid off today. It’ll be tough to see if it’ll pay off the rest of the way,” he added.
Their record-setting catch was 1.07 pounds more than Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun’s Day Two haul back in 1999.
Raveling and Luhman’s previous best finish at the FFCBC was second in 1998, losing to Moynagh and Thrun by 0.7 of a pound.
Hot on their heels are a quartet of teams that are no stranger to bass circuit leaderboards.
Jeff Gustafson and Perry Dubchak of Kenora (Team #13) brought in 19.58 pounds but were quickly upstaged by Raveling and Luhman three weigh-ins later.
“It’s kind of disappointing. We had a really good day out there, my biggest bag anywhere, and they stepped up to the plate and spanked us,” said Gustafson, a 2000 Kenora Bass International and 2001 Shoal Lake champion with other partner Chris Savage.
“We couldn’t have done much better than we did.”
And despite trailing by only 2.7 pounds, Gustafson said catching the experienced Raveling and Luhman won’t be easy.
“That’s a solid lead,” he said. “They only need about 17 or 18 [pounds today] and they’ll be untouchable. We’ll see.”
Scott Cook and Jerry Millar of Winnipeg (Team #18), top-20 finishers five of the last six years here, sat in third place after Day One with 18.68 pounds.
Norm Lindsay, FFCBC co-champ in 1995 and 1997, and partner Jess Swenson are next with 18.08 pounds while two-time winners Moynagh and Thrun are fifth (17.72).
Rounding out the top 10 after Day One are John Plasky and Joe Bolzan (17.58), Dorian Lindholm and Bill Wilcox (17.36), last year’s runner-ups Doug and Zack McBride (17.34), first-time FFCBC team Roger and Dorese Harrison (16.9), and Leo and Ted Heyens (16.66).
Defending champs Steve and Kent Ballan (Team #1) weighed in with 16.14 pounds yesterday—good for a 16th place tie—but maintained they relocated a strong pattern after a slow pre-fish.
“We’re happy with our weight but we lost one big one that would have put us over 20 pounds,” said Steve Ballan. “We’re not totally out of contention if we keep doing what we’re doing.”
Randy Stecky and Bill Daniels (Team #139), along with Bob Duncan and Kevin Kameda (Team #69) split the $250 “hidden weight” prize, reeling in 10.78 and 10.98 pounds, respectively (the hidden weight was 10.88).
Over half the field of 133 boats brought back at least 10 pounds. Only five boats were skunked.
So much for reports of spotty pre-fishing.
“I’m really surprised considering the slow pre-fishing everyone was having,” said Ballan. “All of a sudden, bang, they turn it right on. That’s fishing.”
“This lake is noted for good bags and it’s showing it,” added Raveling.
Other notable Day One placings included 1996 co-champ Gary Lake and Mark Allen in 21st place with 15.28 pounds, Rod Kitchingman and Bryan Lapointe in 30th with 14.28 pounds, and Ron and Dan Lindner in 33rd with 14.00 pounds.
Kid/Pro champs Frank and Terry McClymont sit in 55th place with 11.60 pounds while the 2000 champs—Denis Barnard and Clint Barton—were in 68th with 10.42 pounds after Day One.