Leer, Gustafson lead after first day Number, weight of bass way up from last year

By Alex Cruickshank
Staff writer

Chip Leer and Jeff Gustafson found themselves atop the leaderboard after the first day of the 12th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship courtesy of their 19.06-pound catch yesterday.

Team #89 was pleased with the positive early results, but they also know they’ll need two more solid days of fishing if they are going to hoist the FFCBC trophy following the final weigh-in tomorrow afternoon.

“You can’t win today but you can lose today,” Leer said outside his hotel room shortly after the completion of the Day One weigh-in.

“It’s one day at a time here,” he stressed. “This is a very tough tournament with lots of great anglers.”

Leer and Gustafson stormed out to the early tournament lead despite an inauspicious start to their day. They lost a couple of big bass early in the morning and then broke a rod.

The bad luck prompted Leer to tell Gustafson, “Let’s just take a deep breath and fish.”

The advice seemed to work as the anglers salvaged their day thanks to some consistent fishing and a big bass caught just minutes before they were due to return to the Sorting Gap Marina.

“We didn’t have much of a morning,” Gustafson said. “We ran all over the lake.

“But we got a 4.25 [pound] fish at our last stop with 20 minutes to go.”

That final bass of the day put Leer and Gustafson slightly ahead of Randy and Brian Amenrud, who sat in second place after Day One with an 18.94-pound total.

Perennial contenders Bill Godin and Norm Lindsay got off to another solid start courtesy of their 18.82-pound bag yesterday—good for third on the leaderboard.

Rounding out the top five were Dave Beckmann and Ron Gerdusmeier (18.70 pounds), followed by Phil Bangert and Rob Plumridge (18.35).

It was a much different story for the defending champs. Dave and Lee Lindsay struggled mightily on Day One, finishing in 132nd spot with a weight of 5.82 pounds.

The big fish on Day One—4.72 pounds—was caught by Guy Johnston and Doug Wright, earning the Fort Frances anglers $1,000.

Other cash prizes awarded on Day One included $1,000 to Leer and Gustafson for the biggest bag of the day and a $250 prize for the hidden weigh.

Norman Wood and Dan Fraser took home the latter prize when they hit the target weight of 13.11 pounds exactly.

A total of 657 bass were caught on Day One of the tournament, weighing a combined 1833.89 pounds.

Those numbers were up significantly from last year, when 606 bass were caught on the first day for a combined weight of 1544.72 pounds.