Sarnia lands one new fishing derby, another gets away

Bluewater Anglers volunteer Barney Barneveld hoists a net of young rainbow trout to Ed de Santis at the Point Edward fish hatchery on their way to release in local waters last week. For more on the club, and why it has cancelled one fishing derby but launched another, please see page 19. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

A new fishing derby is coming to Sarnia-Lambton and its sharpest lure is a smartphone app to keep participants safe, organizers say.

Southwestern Ontario’s Blue Coast Walleye Challenge running June 4-13 will see anglers submit their catches via the app to avoid congregating at weigh stations and potentially spreading COVID-19.

“The beginning of June is the peak of our walleye season here,” said Paul Heckley, a board member with Bluewater Angler’s, which has teamed up with Tourism Sarnia-Lambton and Angler’s Atlas to run the event.

The new fishing derby was announced just days before organizers pulled the plug last week on the 45th annual Bluewater Salmon Derby.

The club couldn’t draw people from across the province with Ontario’s stay-at-home order still in effect, explained Heckley.

“(After) cancelling our (Salmon) derby again for the second year, there seems to be a lot of pent up interest in getting out there and doing something. I know we have a lot of disappointed anglers.”

Angler’s Atlas, a Canadian company that provides members with detailed fishing maps and depth charts, is helping to run the tournament with its mobile app MyCatch. Anglers download the app, take a photo of their fish on a measuring device, and the app determines the winners.

“The goal of this event is to welcome and encourage anglers to have fun this spring with a COVID-safe event,” said Vicky Praill, special events coordinator with Tourism Sarnia Lambton.

The MyCatch app also gathers data on fish species and catch locations that’s shared with biologists and other scientists monitoring Canadian lakes and rivers, the company says.

To register, visit www.AnglersAtlas.com. The number of registrants will determine the prize board.

Proceeds will benefit Bluewater’s Point Edward fish hatchery, which is a busy place right now.

“We’re sitting on about 150,000 fish in the hatchery,” Heckley said last week, just as crews began releasing about 20,000 brown trout in local waters.

Another 35,000 rainbow trout were being released this week, and about 80,000 Chinook salmon will be ready in May, he said.

Volunteers with Bluewater Anglers guide a tank backing into the Point Edward fish hatchery.
Troy Shantz