On a day when anglers had to deal with every type of summer weather imaginable, the team of Jeff Gustafson and John Peterson was able to handle Rainy Lake the best yesterday.
With a five-fish bag that came in at 19.17 pounds, the duo found themselves in first place after Day 1 of the 2013 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
“The fish bit for us right away, though, and ‘Gussy’ was able to get a big one on his second cast,” he noted.
“That kind of helped to shape the rest of the day for us.”
Anchoring their bag was a 4.72-pound lunker Gustafson caught midway through the day, which proved to be the second-biggest bass caught yesterday.
“This is a great start and it puts us right in the mix here for the next two days, but there is still a long way to go,” warned Gustafson, who lives in Kenora.
“We are pumped up, though, to have that big of a catch as that means you have had a great day of fishing out on Rainy Lake,” he enthused.
Sitting in second place after Day 1 was the all-Green Bay team of Chad Adrians and Caleb Colwell, who briefly held the lead with an 18.73-pound bag before Gustafson and Peterson knocked them out.
“We are extremely happy with how things went for us today,” Colwell said.
“We remained patient on one spot out there and we were able to catch a couple of nice ones,” he noted.
Minnesota anglers David Doty and Troy Otsby finished the day in third as their 18.71-pound haul fell just short of taking away the runner-up slot from Adrians and Colwell.
“We’ve been fishing this event for a long time and we just had a great day today,” Doty smiled.
“We didn’t lose any fish, we got a nice one right off the bat, and every one after that seemed to be in that three-and-a-half to four-pound range.”
Defending champs Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman, meanwhile, got off to a strong start in their bid for a second-straight title.
Their five bass tipped the scales at 18.64 pounds.
“We had as close as you can get to a perfect day,” Raveling said.
“The fish were really biting today, and you can see that with the weights people are coming in with.
“You have to catch them [the fish] when you can because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow [Friday],” he stressed.
Rounding out the top five were 2011 co-champs Glenn Leroux and Trevor Zimak.
The Thunder Bay tandem kicked off the weigh-in under the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina with a 18.40-pound bag.
“It was actually a really tough pre-fish for us, so we had no expectations whatsoever coming into today,” Leroux admitted.
“We took a chance and ran to a new area, where we had a good start to the day,” he recalled.
“And after the storm went through, we went to some old water and the fish came through for us there.”
“We’ll make the call in the morning depending on how the weather is, but we might stick around those old waters tomorrow [Friday],” noted Zimak.
The biggest fish on Day 1 was a 4.80-pound hog caught by Dennis Fielder and Duane Anderson, which allowed the pair to sit in sixth place with 18.10 pounds.
“I got that fish within the first hour and it was really exciting to reel that one in,” Anderson enthused.
“It’s a game-changer and it sets the tone for the rest of the day, and I’m really glad that we didn’t waste the fish by catching some other nice ones,” he added.
Lauren Ras and Chuck Olson (18.03 pounds), Troy Norman and Jay Samsal (17.89), Paul Visser and Matt Goldamer (17.85), and Jim Sandelovich and Karl Howells (17.56) rounded out the top 10.
Today’s weigh-in gets underway at 3:30 p.m., with the top 15 boats qualifying for the championship flight tomorrow.
The boats will launch again starting at 7 a.m., with the final weigh-ins beginning a half-hour earlier at 3 p.m.
The top 10 boats will be paraded through the tent starting around 5 p.m.