STRAY CASTS: Strub takes third place in New York FLW Outdoors bass derby

Last week, the Stray Caster wrote about swirling winds and warm sunny weather, and how it affected his fishing on Lake Belwood.

Here is another weather story, and it, too, has a Lake Belwood connection, albeit a loose one. Grand River Con­ser­vation Authority park manager Derek Strub finished in third place last weekend in the Stren Series Northern Division win at New York’s 1,000 Islands.

Derek was one of a handful of Canadians to have an excellent tournament, although he re­ceived much less ink on the web site reports than some Americans with lower finishes. Derek himself told the Stray Caster in an email he was very pleased with his finish because he was up against some very good anglers.

Fishing in his first FLW Outdoors tournament, Derek, of Elora, caught a limit of five fish weighing 18 pounds and culminated his debut perfor­mance with a third-place total of 71 pounds, 7 ounces.

The Americans noted that Derek faced several other chal­len­ges, too. Tournament report­ers noted was using a walleye boat with high gunnels and a deep-V hull, and he took on Lake Ontario’s rough waters. Still, he caught five bass on jerkbaits, tubes and drop-shots.

The tournament was created when Minneapolis business­man Irwin L. Jacobs purchased a little-known bass-tournament organization in the small town of Gilbertsville, Kentucky, and renamed it FLW Outdoors® after the legendary founder of Ranger® Boats, Forrest L. Wood.

The company claims the title of the world’s leading tournament-fishing organi­za­tion with 90,000 entries, 240 events, 12 tournament trails and total purses exceeding $42.6-million, including more than $6 million awarded in no-entry-fee championships, in 2007.

In fact, 17 of the sport’s top 18 bass-fishing tournaments (those offering awards of $1-million or more) are FLW Outdoors events, including the biggest tournament in bass fishing – the $2-million Forrest Wood Cup.

The winning pro was another a Canadian. Mike Des­forges, of Burlington, surveyed the wind-whipped Lake Onta­rio and chose to fish the more placid St. Lawrence River. His de­cision proved prudent and fortunate. His mixed catch of large and smallmouth bass weighed 17 pounds on the final day, and boosted his winning total to 77 pounds, 1 ounce

It is interesting to note that whether an angler is a profes­sional or amateur (the Stray Caster is really amateur), the same conditions apply to all. It is those who deal with all the setbacks and changing condi­tions that end up catching fish. The tournament report noted that one American was close to the top of the list going into the last day, having fished in the river for the entire week. He was confident that there were lots of big fish left there, but he slipped all the way to seventh place on the final day, having chosen to fish the same river that the winner was fishing.

Go figure.

One thing that was can say, though, is the pros really know their stuff. But, as Derek has told the Stray Caster more than once, some days, the fish win. People all around can be catching fish and maybe the best angler in the lake is getting nothing. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

In any case, congratulations to Derek for an excellent tournament. The Stray Caster has fished with him a number of times, and it is a joy to see how a pro works. No wasted motion, very few slips, and a ton of fun, too.

The Stren Series was the second of the Northern Divi­sion’s schedule of four regular season tournaments. The total purse for the 1,000 Islands event was $275,225. The win­ning pro could earn as much as $65,000 in cash and prizes if various contingencies are met.

Another fish

In last week’s column the Stray Caster alluded to catching a special fish on Lake Belwood.

Too true, although many seasoned anglers might look on a 10-inch walleye and wonder what is the big deal. Actually, the guys at Lake anywhere refer to such fish as “Guppers” as in guppies. They really are not all  that big, and they are turned back to add weight for future years.

The thing with a Lake Belwood walleye, though, is it is an indication that the walleye that were secretly placed in that lake several years ago seem to be spawning.

The Stray Caster talked several years ago to an MNR official about the sudden catches of five and six pound walleye where there previously had been no walleye at all. He admitted that someone had illegally placed them in the lake, with no idea who it was.

Such actions are not only illegal, but placing a new species into a lake can also devastate a fishery. Fortunately, that official noted, walleye was probably one of the few species that could be introduced into Lake Belwood and not cause eco-havoc.

So, catching a 10 inch fish is a good indication that there are going to be years of good walleye fishing in a lake that is already known to be great for bass, pike, and perch.

Life could be a whole lot worse.