Duo repeats as FFCBC champs

By Joey Payeur
Staff writer, Fort Frances Times Ltd.

It became clear Saturday that the name Gustafson was guaranteed to be on the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship trophy once again.
What wasn’t certain until the last moment was which Gustafson it was going to be.
In the end, defending champion Jeff Gustafson of Kenora and partner John Peterson of Bemidji, Mn. barely held off Fort Frances’ Bryan Gustafson and teammate Brandon McMillan, from Clewiston, Fla., to retain the title.
Their winning total was 57.18 pounds.
The Fort-Florida combination led after both Day 1 and Day 2, and carried almost exactly a two-pound lead heading into Saturday.
But while their final haul of 17.20 pounds was nothing to sniff at, it left them a mere .22 pounds behind the reigning kingpins with a mark of 56.96 after the defending champs bagged the top weight of the day with 20.20— the only team to top the 20-pound barrier Saturday.
“This is one of the highlights of the year for both of us,” said Jeff Gustafson, who joined Peterson in collecting the winner’s prize of $20,000 to become only the third team in the FFCBC’s 20-year history to win back-to-back crowns.
They also were the first since Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh completed their run of three in a row in 2009.
“I’ve been fishing in this tournament for a long time and it’s a super feeling to come here and win,” Gustafson added.
“Words can’t describe it,” he remarked.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won a tournament two years in a row.”
Peterson attributed the team’s success to its diligent preparation in the days leading up to the event.
“We did a lot of pre-fishing . . . there’s literally hundreds of spots we know on this lake,” he noted.
“We’ve got what we call our ‘milk route,’” Peterson added.
“We just keep hitting spots and keep moving until we make contact with the fish.”
For Bryan Gustafson, it was a situation of things coming full circle.
“It’s payback . . . I did it to him two years ago on Lake of the Woods,” he said about a previous conquest over Jeff.
“He told me then he was going to get me back.”
McMillan also knows the agony and the ecstasy of a close finish.
“I’ve been on both sides,” he admitted. “I won one big tournament by one ounce.”
The brother duo of Rene Cadene of Atikokan and Morgan Cadene, who now calls Cranbrook, B.C. home, leaped from seventh after Friday to third Saturday after reeling in a stellar catch of 19.18 pounds, which was the second-largest for the day.
Meanwhile, the Fort tandem of Denis Barnard, one of two anglers to fish in all 20 editions of the FFCBC, and Scott Gobeil went from sixth to fourth after their bag of 16.92 pounds Saturday gave them to a three-day total of 53.70.
David Doty (Cottage Grove, Mn.) and Troy Ostby (Hudson, Wis.) went into Saturday in second place with a clear shot at the lead.
But the American duo netted their worst haul of the tournament at 15.89 to slip to fifth place (53.66).
Troy Norman, who celebrated his birthday Saturday, was the only other local angler to crack the top 10 as he and partner Jay Samsal finished sixth (51.79).