John and Rueben Gibbins of Morson continued their dominance at the Morson Bass Classic on Lake of the Woods, winning this year’s sixth-annual event with a two-day catch of 36.08 pounds.
Pat Handorgan and Jody Shypit teamed up to finish second with a 33.78-pound total—surging up with a tournament-record haul of 20.12 pounds (including the big fish of 5.02 pounds) on the final day Sunday.
They had been sitting in fifth place with 13.66 pounds after Saturday’s action.
Shypit said they fished for strictly largemouth bass on Sunday, which helped them bring in the mammoth weight. That, combined with the fact they were forced to fished out of the weeds due to a motor problem, helped them make the impressive gain.
But this year’s story once again was the Gibbins, who have dominated the Morson derby for last three years of the Morson tournament. In fact, both have earned previous first-place finishes with different partners.
Quite an impressive showing.
“I grew up here and it’s understanding the fish,” said John Gibbins, who started fishing tournaments just seven years ago.
“A lot of the fish are still going to the same spots but a lot of [our success] is studying fish, which are getting bigger,” he noted.
But the key to victory this time around was their consistency. After hauling in an impressive catch of 18.74 pounds on Saturday, they came back Sunday with 17.34 pounds to secure top spot.
The Gibbins, who caught their limit of five fish early both days, finished second at last year’s Morson Classic with just 24.39 pounds under less-than-ideal conditions.
In fact, this year’s winning total was nearly 11 pounds more than last year’s.
“We probably had 12 pounds by 9:30 a.m., and you always have a favourite lure that you’re confident in catching fish with all the time,” Gibbins noted.
“But with a good start, you can start changing and hope to catch even bigger fish,” he remarked.
Finishing in third place was the duo of Jason and Oliver Gibbins (29.30 pounds), followed by Almer and Dan Godin (28.86) and then the all-Fort Frances connection of Dave Byrnes and Andrea Turgeon (27.14).
Byrnes, who guides on Lake of the Woods, said the key for them was to know where to find the bass and stay with that spot. They also enjoyed a quick start on both days, reeling in their limit of five fish before 9 a.m.
“We had a couple of good spots and we were able to get our fish early,” said Byrnes, who finished in the middle of the pack last year. “Once we got those five fish early, it took the pressure off.
“I find when you don’t get those five fish in the boat, you get nervous and you feel you’re in a pinch because time starts working against you,” he reasoned.
Turgeon said they caught their fish in the weeds on the same hole both days, adding the windy conditions often forced them to change their positioning.
Still, they were able to adjust to the conditions on both days, she added.
Rounding out the top 10 were Mike Salvador/Jess Swenson (26.82 pounds), Terry Gill/Chad Hanson (26.5), Rick Savage/Jeff Gustafson (25.64), Doug Vandersteen/Mark Pentney (25.36), and Ray Ducharme/Shelly Ducharme (24.26).