Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bass, Fishin' not Drinkin'

Well, I did a little drinking, but just not Bass. I was up in Northern Minnesota visiting my friends Bruce and Donna and the day after I arrived it was the start of the International Falls Bass Championship festivities.

Let The Festivities Begin

In conjunction with the fishing contest there is a nice little fair and crafts show in the Smokey Bear Park. Hmm, deep fried cheese curds and Pronto Pups (Corn Dogs to those of you not from the midwest).

Smokey Bear

There is also a parade that is quite entertaining in a small-town sort of way. Particularly if you like boats. It started off with members of, well, I am not sure, presenting colors. Maybe it was the American Legion, but there might have been a few Canadians in there too.

Color Guard

This was followed by the inevitable bagpipers. I don't know why, but they just love bagpipers up here. You may remember that one even showed up when I hit bar number 777 at Woody's Pub.

Blowing Wind Bags

And, of course, every parade has to have its queen. This year Holly Strain was "Miss Fun In The Sun." There should be a pun in there somewhere, but I had my mind on a nice piece of bass. Ooh, I really had to strain for that one.

Miss Fun In The Sun

And, of course, there were boats instead of floats. But then, boats do float.

Boat Floats

There were quite a lot of boats, actually. Fifty-nine boats, each with a two man team were entered in the event. Not a huge contest, but there was $30,000 in prize money and first prize was $10,000. Most of the entrants were from around the area. There is another, much larger professional bass tournament held in Rainy Lake, but I think that one is in Canada. All the fishing for this one was done on the United States side of the lake and in the Rainy River that flows into the lake.

The kids really enjoyed the parade, largely because there was a lot of candy being thrown about. If it doesn't lay in the street for more then 10 seconds it is safe to eat.

Scrambling For Treats

Of course what is a bass fishing contest without a beer tent. And of course I was more than happy to contribute to whatever cause it was supporting.

Buying My Ticket To Paradise

Much better to buy a ticket for beer than to be ticketed for drinking beer, in my humble opinion. But I only get ticketed for drinking beer when I do it in the New York Subway. I knew that insulated back-pack with the keg of beer in it would get me in trouble.

Enjoying My Brew In The Garden

The choices were limited so I had a Miller's Genuine Draft. Not my usual choice, but it quenched my thirst.

Afterwards I headed down the street to one of the few remaining bars in town. Kind of sad, really. At one time International Falls probably had more than a dozen bars. This one is a good one though. I missed nickel night where they crack a keg and beers are only a nickel until the keg is emptied.

Viking Bar And Lounge

I noticed that nobody was drinking draft beer so I figured I better play it safe and have a bottled beverage myself. Sometimes you do get some interesting flavors if you get a draft beer in a small bar that doesn't clean their lines very often.

Playing It Safe

I had a Coor's Light and there really isn't too much I say about that except it was cold, and wet.

Now one might think that winning a fishing contest is largely a matter of luck, and I am sure that some of that enters into the equation. However the winning team this year, Dale Labelle and Karl Howells, both from Canada, took third place two years ago and second place last year. Given that this was only the third annual International Falls Bass Championship, they have done right well for themselves. I am not sure where my buddy Woody finished, I never did see the final tally, but I don't think he finished in the money. Maybe next year.