Defending champs surge to early lead

By Mitch Calvert, Fort Frances Times LTD.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Matt Christy of Superior, Wis. and partner Chris Hay of Brooklyn Centre, Mn. had a great day on the waters of Rainy Lake yesterday after bringing in an 18.88-pound bag to sit in second place behind defending champs Jim Moynagh and Joe Thrun after Day 1 of the 15th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
There’s a familiar team atop the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championships standings after Day 1, but they’re far from in the clear.
Four-time champs Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh brought in a 19.14-pound bag yesterday—despite a near-medical emergency—to eclipse Matt Christy and Chris Hay (Team #29) by less than half-a-pound (18.88) for top spot heading into the second day of fishing this morning.
Thrun, who walked into yesterday’s weigh-ins with a noticeable limp, lodged a hook in his toe early in the day but battled through it without seeking medical attention.
“It happened early [yesterday] morning, about 9 or 10 o’clock, but we just had to clip it and leave it in there because we had bigger things on our mind, like catching those smallmouths,” Thrun said on stage.
Ron and Dan Lindner (Team #88) rounded out the top three with a solid 18.58-pound bag, followed by Trevor Guderyan and Dean Tacknyk of Kenora (Team #5) in fourth place (18.29).
Scott Walsh and Heath Iacarella (Team #30) closed out the top five at 17.61 pounds.
Perhaps the biggest surprise after Day 1 was the team that sits in sixth—Andrew Perrault of Fort Frances and Eagle Lake’s Jeremiah Gardner.
The duo (Team #153) was one of the last to weigh in and presented an attention-grabbing 17.59-pound bag.
Richard Rud and Jon Austin of International Falls (Team #11) reeled in 17.54 pounds of bass to sit in seventh place.
“We’ll definitely take that,” Rud said after their fish were weighed.
“It’s a lot better than we did in pre-fishing, that’s for sure,” he added.
In a recurring theme from Day 1, another underdog team cracked the top 10 with Dennis Mandamin and Daniel Kelly of Pawitik (Team #136) hanging onto eighth spot with a 17.50-pound total.
John Janousek and Chad Johnson (Team #19) were in ninth place with 17.39 pounds, followed by the Fort Frances pairing of Bryan Gustafson and Mike Adams (Team #51) in 10th after a 17.13-pound catch on Day 1, which they managed despite some technical difficulties early on.
“We had a pretty ridiculous morning,” said Gustafson, who finished second at the recent “Castin’ for Cash” tournament on Lake Despair with partner Brian White.
“We got out there and were breaking some big fish off, and then my boat was taking on water,” he noted.
“The plug had a little malfunction, and Ranger doesn’t do a great job with the boat plug location, so I was swimming in some muddy water trying to thread her in there,” Gustafson recounted.
“But we came back and put it together in the afternoon.”
Gustafson and Adams had their success on the south arm while most of the other teams raced towards Noden Causeway and the north arm to begin the day on Thursday.
The big fish of the day went to Blair and Scott Dingwall of Dryden (Team #87) at 4.82 pounds—despite a boat problem that required a tow back from Norm French and  Wilfred Bretecher.
“I was hoping to make a deal with him, our smallest for his biggest, but unfortunately [Blair] didn’t go for,” French joked.
The Dingwalls currently sit 40th place with 14.69 pounds while French and Bretecher are in 50th (14.34).
Considering pre-fishing was fairly slow for many of the teams, plenty of big bags were brought in yesterday (582 fish weighing a total of 1,583.08 pounds).
Teams today left in inverted order from Day 1, meaning the last flight from yesterday headed out first while the first flight departed last.
The standings after today will determine tomorrow’s departure order.
Today’s weigh-ins start at 4 p.m. while the final one on Saturday gets underway at 3:30 p.m.
The top 10 boat parade should start around 5 p.m., with the champion being crowned immediately afterwards.