Saturday, September 20, 2014

Local tops at KBI

This time, Bryan Gustafson wasn’t giving away the lead.
The Fort Frances angler and his partner, Jamie Bruce of Kenora, rode a massive Day 2 effort to win the 27th-annual Kenora Bass International on Saturday with a three-day total of 51.16 pounds.

“It’s a pretty unique way to finish a tournament,” said Gustafson, who found himself in almost exactly the same position he was in at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship last month, holding a 2.73-pound lead over Kenora’s Jeff Gustafson entering the final day of the KBI.
“Gussy” overcame a 2.78-pound deficit to snatch the FFCBC title away from the Fort angler by a scant .22 pounds.
But with everything on the line, it was Gustafson and Bruce who found just enough
decent-sized fish to come up with a Day 3 haul of 14.47 pounds to take home the $25,000 top prize.
“We were making a two-hour run and it was a gamble,” admitted Bryan Gustafson, who won his first KBI title.
“We were just focused on catching the bigger-calibre fish.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Gustafson and teammate Chris Savage had a below-average day at the worst possible time—bringing in just 11.23 pounds on Saturday to sink all the way to 19th place with a 45.19 total.
“I’m not shocked because they had the same game plan we did,” Bryan Gustafson mused.
“We would have been in the same boat if we hadn’t caught that one five-pounder,” he noted.
After nabbing an even 16 pounds on Day 1 last Thursday, Day 2 proved pivotal for the eventual champs.
Gustafson and Bruce reeled in what ended up being the biggest fish (5.68) and the biggest catch (20.69) of the weekend—setting a tournament record for a one-day haul in the process.
Oliver and Jason Gibbons of Sleeman tried to rally from more than 3.5 pounds behind after losing their lead following Day 1—and nearly completed their mission.
But their haul of 17.50 pounds on Day 3, highlighted by them getting the day’s biggest fish for the second time in three days, left them exactly half-a-pound behind the winners at 50.66.
They were the only other duo in the 139-team field to break the 50-pound barrier.
Troy Norman of Fort Frances and Kenora’s Jay Samsal, who battled their way to sixth place at last month’s FFCBC, used Day 3’s top haul of 18.64 pounds to vault into third place at the KBI (49.72).
That was just enough weight to squeak past the Morson team of Pat Gibbons and Pat Handorgan Jr. in fourth (49.66).
Winnipeg’s Scott Cook and Pat James of Kenora were fifth (49.65).
As for other Fort participants, Luc Levesque paired with Atikokan’s Trevor McQuay to land in 43rd spot (42.57).
The Fort-based duo of Mike Graham and Paul Visser came away with 54th place (41.64).
It was not a good weekend for current or defending champions, regardless of the sport.
Devlin’s Bill Godin and Leroy Wilson of International Falls, the 2013 KBI champs, had a mark of 15.21 after Day 1 but never broke the 13-pound plateau after that.
That led to them sliding all the way down to 77th this year (39.26).
Then there was Kenora native Mike Richards—fresh off his second Stanley Cup triumph in three years as a forward with the L.A. Kings.
But his ice skills didn’t convert so smoothly to the fishing boat, as he and teammate Trevor Socholotuk from Kenora wound up in 91st place (37.44).
Up next is the Atikokan Bass Classic, which takes part this Friday and Saturday (Aug. 15-16).

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