Erica Strom related her rendition of “the one that didn’t get away” in recounting how she caught her last bass with the help of pro anglers Cos and Cory Costa.
“No real big story,” said the 13-year-old Fort Frances resident. “I was just kind of lazing around at the back of the boat and wasn’t paying attention. And my line went like it was being pulled out.
“I realized I had a fish on it and it took about five minutes to get it in the boat,” she noted. “Every time it got close to the boat, it just kept going back out.
“They both had the nets but I reeled most of it in.”
That catch propelled Strom and the Costas to top honours in the fourth-annual Kid-Pro tournament held Sunday in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
Their combined three-fish weight of 13.14 pounds topped the 39-team field—.76 pounds more than runner-up Riley Kellar (12.38), who was fishing with pros Dave Lindsay and Colin Gluting.
Tyler Yatchuk, teamed up with Bill Godin and Karl Howells, finished third (11.57 pounds), followed by Andrew VanHeyst with Dave Garber (9.84), and Randy Mutchmor with Tom Pearson and Mike Gerstner (9.81).
Danny Gavel, who was paired with Ray and Anne Watson, won the “hidden weight” prize with a 5.37-pound total— a mere 0.02 less than the pre-selected number.
“Everyone had a blast,” said FFCBC chair Rebecca Webb. “Everybody came back with rosy cheeks and big smiles.
“The kids loved it. I think they can always value that kind of training,” she added. “And the anglers absolutely thought it was a wonderful event. They just love what they can do for the kids.”
The FFCBC committee had prepared the children thoroughly for the six-hour event, which began at 9 a.m. Each was supplied with a free T-shirt and tackle box, and they all took in a seminar on fishing techniques and safe boating earlier this month.
It seemed to pay off as participants received some tips from their anglers.
“They just told me to keep my rod tip down whenever the fish jumps,” said Strom, who had some previous fishing experience with her dad.
“I liked it. I caught five or six,” echoed Katie Stearns, 10, who teamed up with Brad Carlson and Bruce Ness to net 7.12 pounds of bass.
Stearns added while it was her first time bass fishing, she didn’t have any major problems thanks to her partners, who gave her some grub lures.
Scott Schinderle and Ricky Jansen took Jordan Walton on the lake and caught 15 small fish—not bad for his first time on a bass boat. “He was a diehard, he never quit,” noted Jansen.
“We gave him some lures and some stuff to work with in the future,” added Schinderle. “It could have been a little better with the [size of each] fish but other than that, it was a fun time.” Schinderle said the Kid-Pro tourney was a nice short distraction from he and his partner’s job of performing well in the big derby, which gets underway here tomorrow morning.
“Today was more relaxed fishing and finding ways for Jordan to find something,” he noted.
During the first two years of this event, kids and anglers were allowed to bring in any species of fish for the weigh-in. While they’ve since been relegated to catching smallmouth bass only, Travis Hahkala and his pro partner, Clint Barton, couldn’t break old habits.
“We ended up fishing northerns,” said Barton, one-half of the defending FFCBC champions who, along with Hahkala, kept getting the bite from nine and 10-pounders.
“It was an exciting day for sure,” he said.