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On October 22 the 2011 -110 boats blasted off from the Port of Orillia for the season final classic of Canadian bass tournaments. On what was described as a tough day on the water Wayne & Gail Misslebrook of Brooklin Ontario topped a field of the best in Canada to win the premier one day event and take home a total of over $25,000. With a five fish weight of 28.50 pounds of Simcoe's best smallmouth bass the winners managed to inch out Scott Murison (Casey Cup winner) and Paul Hecking with 28.20 pounds. Third place went to Matt Belzil & Jay Clay with 27.40 and Bob Formosa & Jay Saliba took 4th with 26.65. Alex Campbell & Tood Currie were close 5th with 26.45 inching out last years champs Mark Moran and Joe Muszynski with 26.40 pounds.


The weeks leading up to this year’s open were a throwback to yesteryears when October was windy and cold and only the most driven anglers ventured out in what was then the Crackle Cup. This year, day after day saw winds of 25 to 50km from a different direction every day and the cold rains came sideways at one point each day. The peaceful warm windless days of pre-fishing leading up to the 2010 Open or even through a beautiful September of 2011 were only a memory. Tournament after tournament was cancelled due to weather conditions and that uncomfortable feeling of what was to come when more than 100 boats set out to planned locations in search of Simcoe’s brown monsters on the premier one day event of the year.

When the day finally came there was a one day pardon from the wrath of the 1950’s style October. The peaceful windless morning signaled the start of something great and as the first boat with last years champs got up on plane and the line streamed to the Atherly narrows and onto the big lake there were butterflies in more than one stomach. This is what a tournament angler lives for. Could this be an anchor to the performance and international acclaim of 2010?

With the last details of the plan in place Wayne and Gail blast off and put the plan in action.

With the last details of the plan in place Wayne and Gail blast off and put the plan in action.

October days are short and a seven hour day including travel time can seem even shorter if you’re not lucky enough to find five fish early. The forecast of the first windless sunny day in a week did not materialize and by mid morning the west winds blew and the waves rolled again making conditions tough. The unsettle weather were reflected in the weights as more than half the field failed to weigh-in.


Back at the Port of Orillia there was something different about the weigh-in site. There were people waiting for the boats to come back and start to tell the stories of the day on the water. There were crowds waiting to tour around the towed boats and get a glimpse of some huge bass and potential winners. Teams with over 21 pounds would stay in their boats and be towed to the stage. When the teams finally started to trickle back some went to get bags to put their fish in to be weighed without pageantry and others threw their keys to volunteers to get their trailers. In a sport that would seem to rely so much on luck it became clear that the same fall specialists who always seem to find them found them again.  Sometimes the ones that are back early wait the longest to weigh-in. There’s a “things came easy” look on some of the faces waiting for everyone else to go ahead until there is just a few out on the water and finally one of them asks the question, “how much”? The final order is complete.

On stage “the one that got away” stories and the head shaking was well underway when the first towed boat hit the stage and the scales really start to get a workout. Emcee Mike Brown cousin to comic superstar Russell Peters already had the crowd rolling. Mike is a well known tournament angler and can be seen most summer mornings greeting other tournament anglers waiting to blast off. His “good morning brother” greeting and unmistakable profile lighten up the early tension.  He probably knows everyone who ever weighed in a fish and has his own comic style to say hello.


The first real contenders pulled up in from of the stage.

As they loaded the fish in the bag it looked like they had a great bag of fish but there was still plenty of boats to come. Their weight of 26.40 lbs was good enough for 6th place.


The next boat to the stage was Alex Campbell and Todd Curry. Their weight of 26.45 put them in 5th place.


With 4 boats left in line three time champs Bob Formosa and Jason Saliba started to pull some big fish out of the livewell but a weight of 26.65 was only good for 4th place. The first weight over 27 lbs was Mat Belzil and Jay Clay with 27.40 lbs.


With two boats left including Scott Murison and Paul Hecking all of the average weights were lower than last year and the record seemed safe. But as Scott and Paul began to bag their fish it finally looked like a threat to the record that everyone came to see broken. But when their fish finally hit the scale it was enough to take over the lead but well short of the record. Their weight of 28.20 put them on the hot seat with one more boat.


Note: the hot seat is where you sit while the last contenders weigh their fish. It can be a nerve racking experience when the $25,000 first prize can turn into $6000.00 for second.


As Wayne and Gail bagged their fish and walked them to the scale Scott Murison was asked if their 28.20 pounds would hold up he replied, "Wayne and Gail are always a threat and we wish them luck and I hope we were a little luckier" he said while laughing.


As the fish hit the scale and the numbers bounced around between the high 27 and low 29 pound range, they finally settled on 28.50 and as the guys on the hot seat shook their heads, Wayne and Gail hugged and smiled and it was all over and the crowd favorites were finally champs. The record was safe for another year.



Time on the Water interview with Wayne and Gail Misselbrook


Complete Results


Photos provided by:


Brad Hudson - Barrie Bassmasters Gallery more pics


Cindy Guan more pics


Lures & Tours more pics



The smiles tell it all as Wayne and Gail hold up some simcoe trophies before getting the real trophy.They become the only husband and wife team to have won a major tournament event in Ontario. The weight of 28.70 lbs was almost a pound less than they weighed in last year in the same event, good for 4th place.


Scott Murison and Paul Hecking end up a close 2nd with 28.20 lbs. This team was 8th last year. This tops off a great year for Scott after winning the Casey Cup, the Fall Challenge, and Team of the Year with regular partner Joe Muszynski.


Mat Belzil and Jay Clay with 2 of the five that won them 3rd place with 27.40 lbs. Kadyn River Belzil born July 16th (in pink) weighs 12.13but wasn't part of the total weight.


Three time Simcoe Open Champs Jason Saliba and Bob Formosa weigh-in 26.65 to take 4th place. They have more top 5 finishes than any other team in the history of the tournament.

Bill Walker and Kal Vaisanen pull one of the few largemouth bass weighed in. At 5.05 lbs it was good enough for big largemouth of the tournament and prizes worth about $2000.00. They also picked up a check for 16th place overall.


Derek Strub and Mike Desforges two of Candia's best anglers came up a little shy on a tough day with a weigh of 23.05 lbs, good for 11th place.


Howard and Mike Gifford are always a threat in the fall on Simcoe and their weight of 24.90 was good enough for 7th place.

Big Fish of the tournament went to Bob Boomer and Paul Bryn with a 7.05 pound smallmouth. Hard to believe one bass is worth $4000.00.


Shawn Hewitt, General Manager of Bass Pro Shop, Lucas Wilson from Sunshine Radio, and John Whyte hand out "Attend to Win" prizes in a new promotion from Time on the Water Canada.


Thank you to the many sponsors and volunteers including:


A special Thanks to Mike Brown our MC for the day, the Aurora Bassmasters for their dedication to conservation and research, Sunshine Radio 89.1 for promoting the event, and of course Doug Bunker and the City of Orillia Chamber of Commerce.



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