For Dave Garber, fishing in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship isn’t about winning—it’s all about having a good time.
“I am not in the tournament to win, I am only in it for fun. I told my partner Jimmy that it didn’t matter if we won,” said Garber of Deep Haven, MN.
Garber and his partner, Jim Anderson of Orono, MN have been fishing together in the FFCBC since 1995. There best finish also was that year, when they placed twelfth.
“Jimmy and I have been fishing in the tournament for five years. The only reason he is my partner is because he is the only guy that would fish with me,” enthused Garber.
“Jimmy takes this much more serious then I do. He has caught me [while out pre-fishing] tanning and sleeping. One day he caught me sleeping and he cast a lure right at my boat to wake me up,” he laughed.
According to Garber, there are a lot of anglers who take fishing much too seriously. He has heard of guys renting airplanes to see where people are fishing for the tournament.
“I did that once,” he said. “but not to see where people were fishing. I did it just because there are things in the lake that aren’t on the map, and you can see them form 500 feet in the air.”
This is the first year that Garber and Anderson have not made the draw, and according to Garber, it is because the accident they got into during the second day of the competition last year.
“Last year was the first year we didn’t qualify … it was the first time ever we didn’t make the draw. I had an accident last year with my boat. I went to take a short-cut and went right over a pile of rocks. It took out the lower unit of my boat,” explained Garber.
“We had just finished fishing a spot and we were going to move. We already had five fish, probably nine or 10 pounds total. I got up to about 35 mph and drove right over a rock pile. We phoned Rainy Lake Boat Works and had them phone Doug Cain,” he continued.
“They told Doug what had happened and [tournament organizers] had Rick Socholotuk come out and pick up Jimmy and weigh the fish. After Jimmy went back to the tent, I started to troll my boat back to shore when John McTaggart came out and towed my boat to Sha Sha’s. I got another lower unit put on my boat so I could fish the next day,” added Garber.
“At that point there were no rules about what happens if an accident occurs, this year if an accident happens another tournament boat can bring you in, as long as the fish are kept in different livewells,” he said.
This will be the only major tournament Garber and Anderson will be fishing in this year, due to “the stuff that goes on that no one knows about.”
“If you are dishonest enough, there are ways to beat the system,” suggests Garber. “Bending the rules isn’t worth winning . . . that is why I don’t fish in any major tournaments—just because of all the crap that goes on,” he added.
Garber remembered how in a walleye tournament a few years back, the MNR got word of a fisherman who was catching large walleye and putting them in a live trap. MNR enforcement officers put a camera in the bush to obtain evidence showing he was in fact cheating. “When he was up on stage and the tournament organizers announced him as the winner the police walked up and arrested him right on stage,” he explained.
Garber has been fishing Rainy Lake for about 40 years.
“I know the lake really well, I have been coming here for a while. I used to come up here fishing with my father when I was a kid to fish Crappies,” he noted.
Like most fishermen he knows the best areas to fish, he only uses the best lures and knows what the best conditions are for fishing bass.
“It depends on what the weather and days are like to fish bass. It is sort of a hit and miss situation. To fish bass, it is better to fish in rocky or grassy areas because they have more to feed off of as opposed to when it is flat . . . they don’t usually hang out in flat areas because there is nothing to feed off of,” explained Garber.
If Garber could offer the other participants in the tournament three key pieces of advice they would be to not take themselves too seriously, remember you are out to have fun and respect the environment.
He says his main strategy when fishing in the FFCBC is to get out there and catch fish.