MORRISBURG – The usually peaceful waterfront was littered with bass fishing boats bobbing on the St. Lawrence River as they waited in near gridlock to weigh their potentially prize winning catches.

The Renegade Bass Tour stopped in Morrisburg Sat., July 21 for the third qualifier of the summer as fishermen from all over Ontario attempted to angle their way into final big event of the year, the Classic, which is also being held in Morrisburg this year.

Competitors leaned on the dock after a full day out on the river while a TV crew interviewed each one of them about the days exploits.

This day belonged to the team of Kevin Selleck and John Horton with a total combined weight of their five fish tipping the scales at 24.18 pounds earning the top prize of $7,000. Horton and Selleck’s strategy was to stick to the shallows as they had practiced and it paid off, but they admitted what seems sound in practice doesn’t always happen on competition day.

“We did see that weight in practice. We didn’t think we’d catch it today. It doesn’t always happen on tournament day but we did see that type of fish yesterday,” said Horton.

The team of David Chong and Doug Brownridge came in a close second with a total weight of 23.55 pounds and Troy Bresee and Bryan Pollock rounded out the top three with a total weight of 23.17. Second and third place winners received $3,500 and $2,000 respectively.

The big fish winners of the day were Alex Merkley and Corey Gaffney who hauled in a bass weighing a healthy 5.80 pounds. Merkley and Gaffney collected $760 for their catch. Bresee and Pollock were a very close second with a single fish weight of 5.78 pounds while Steve Barnett and Jack Levert came in third with their biggest fish coming in at 5.73 pounds.

Tournament director Todd Morton was happy with the turnout as 75 teams took to the water. Crowds gathered on the riverbank as the competitors returned from their favourite spots for the weigh-in. Many of the teams will actually head to Lake Ontario near Kingston to fish for the day with some of the boats capable of top speeds of 80 miles an hour.

Competitors got a break from the sun as they waited patiently to weigh their catches

“That’s tournament fishing right? Go as fast as you can to get to your spots,” said Morton.

For first-time watchers or the average fishing enthusiast thinking of jumping into the sport with both feet, Morton suggested dipping in a toe and testing the waters first.

“Start small. Just because you have money to fish doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. These are the real deal fishermen. It’s not like they’re just hobbyists. They eat sleep and breathe fishing. Our organization runs three smaller tournaments each summer. Those are more promotional tournaments. They’re single day tournaments and they’re for folks that are 150 horsepower or less,” he said.

The final qualifier will be held Sat., Aug. 18 at Dog Lake with Seeley’s Bay Town Launch set as the take off point.

The Classic, the big final two-day event of the season, will be held Sat., Sept. 8 and Sun., Sept. 9. Blast off is set for 7 am at the Morrisburg dock and the weigh-in will be at 4 pm on Saturday and 3 pm on Sunday.

The top prize is a fully rigged Bass Cat boat and Mercury outboard with 36V MotorGuide Trolling motor valued at $65,000.

Friends, family and curious on-lookers gathered on the river banks to watch the boats and to see the competitors catches of the day. Press Photos – Schoch