With Sarnia’s long-delayed boat launches still under water a local marina’s goodwill gesture is helping keep the 41st annual Bluewater Anglers Salmon Derby afloat.
“It’s probably still going to be chaotic at the beginning but it is going to help, club spokesperson Paul Heckley said of Bridgeview Marina, which is offering a boat ramp and free dockage to contestants.
The derby April 28 to May 7 attracts more than 1,000 participants to Sarnia with $40,000 in prizes up for grabs.
Bragging rights and the $5,000 prize for largest salmon last year went to London’s Kurt Vandenbroek for a fish weighing 17.96 lbs.
Normally, the municipal boat ramps in Centennial Park are the focal point of the derby and the 350 to 400 recreational boats it attracts each spring.
But those docks, which allowed four boats to be launched simultaneously, were ripped up last year and their replacement delayed by a series of problems involving the park’s $11-million remediation.
Bridgeview Marina has stepped up to offer its launch ramp and the free use of marina docks during the derby.
“Quite frankly, we just have to make sure we work together collectively to make this successful,” owner Dave Brown said earlier.
Derby organizers are encouraging participants to launch their boats once and leave them at the marina, Heckley said.
“Take it out after the derby, so we can minimize traffic on the single dock,” he said.
Despite the ramp issue, early registration was on par with previous years and Heckley is feeling optimistic about the derby.
“There’s always been a bit of a rumor out there that the derby is going to be cancelled because we don’t have the boat ramps, but I think we’ve kind of put that one to bed,” he said.
“We’re just going to have to work around this inconvenience this year. Hopefully (the city) boat ramp will be in for next year.”
The Bluewater Salmon derby is one of the largest and oldest on the lower Great Lakes, Heckley said.
Proceeds support the Anglers’ fish hatchery near the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward, which raises about 200,000 salmon and lake and rainbow trout annually.
Details and registration information can be found at www.bluewateranglers.com/salmon-derby