Fort Frances native Troy Norman celebrated his birthday in style on Friday, as he and his partner Jay Samsal of Kenora moved up into the top of the standings following two days of angling in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
The pair, who sat in eighth place after Day 1, survived the elements on Day 2 to reel in 18.14 pounds of bass from Rainy Lake, which gave them a two-day total weight of 36.03 pounds.
“We stayed on our game-plan, didn’t get off course, and we just kept at it.
“It was a grind where we caught one fish here and one fish there, and we were able to put together a good day,” he added.
Sitting just behind the leaders are 2011 co-champions Glenn Leroux and Trevor Zimak of Thunder Bay, who moved up from fifth to second in the standings on Day 2 with a total weight of 36.02 pounds.
Even though this marks the second year in a row that Leroux and Zimak find themselves in the runner-up spot heading into the final day of the tournament, they still expect to have butterflies in their stomachs when they head out on Rainy Lake on Saturday morning.
“It’s going to be a sleepless night with a lot of thoughts going through our heads about what we are going to do and what we should plan to do,” Leroux stressed.
“There’s so many unknowns, especially with what the weather is going to do, and we haven’t seen a lot of fish.
“It’s going to be a tough day,” he added.
Helping the pair out was a 4.66-pound lunker that Zimak reeled in, which proved to be the single biggest bass that was caught on Day 2, and helped them finish the day with a 17.62-pound bag.
“We had about 15 and a half pounds around noon, but we went about two or three without having a bite,” Zimak recalled.
“We decided to go back to another spot, and on my first cast I said ‘Oh I’ve got one, and he’s a big one.’
“He came up and jumped out of the water, and I turned to Glenn and said ‘This is a monster,’ and it ran around the boat three or four times before we reeled it in,” he added.
The top all-local tandem is Ryan Hyatt and Karl Wolff, who reside in third place with 35.93 pounds after they reeled in 18.52 pounds of bass on Friday.
“This is a pretty big thrill for us,” Hyatt said.
“It was a tough day out there today, but we are hoping to hold on and have another good day tomorrow [Saturday],” he added.
Day 1 leaders Jeff Gustafson and John Peterson slid to fourth place with a total weight 35.07 pounds, while defending champions Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman are in fifth place heading to the final day with 34.22 pounds.
Chad Adrians and Caleb Colwell (33.99 pounds), Lauren Ras and Chuck Olson (33.22), Paul Visser and Matt Goldamer (32.77), Doug Stahly and Todd Heruth (32.58), and five-time champions Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh (31.95) rounded out the top ten.
The other five tandems that made it into Saturday’s championship flight for a chance to win the FFCBC trophy were George McDonald and Kevin Erickson (31.89 pounds), Paul Kielb and Jim Picha (31.79), Larry Bollig and Todd Bollig (31.52), Dale Labelle and Dave Byrnes (31.42), and Jim Merthan and David Skallet (31.41).
Duane and Craig Peterson caught the biggest bag of the day on Friday, as their 19.15-pound haul allowed them to rocket up from 77th to 28th in the standings.
The final day of the 2013 FFCBC will get underway at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning when the boats will launch from the Sorting Gap Marina.
The weigh-ins are slated to start at 3 p.m., with the top 10 boats wheeling into the tent around 5 p.m.