Despite bad weather, historically low fish catches and the lack of a public boat launch, organizers of the 41st annual Salmon Derby were upbeat following Sarnia’s premiere fishing event.
“The fishing was good, the weather was terrible,” said Paul Heckley with the Bluewater Anglers. “For our 10-day derby we probably only had three or four days that were reasonable.”
The 580 fish registered at weigh stations was an all-time low and about half the annual average of 1,200. But the fishing was good on the few fair-weather days available, Heckley noted.
“When you consider how many days and hours people got out there, the numbers are pretty good.
The previous low for the salmon derby was 735 fish in 2005.
Nevertheless, there were no complaints heard about the event and Sarnia’s long-delayed municipal boat ramps did not become a problem, he said.
In the weeks prior the derby, City Hall announced its relocation of the public boat launch at Centennial Park would again be delayed, causing concern among anglers and organizers alike.
But the city and Bridgeview Marina reached an agreement to allow boaters to use its facilities in Point Edward.
“The boat ramp actually worked very well this year,” said Heckley. “(Owner) Dave Brown and Bridgeview Marina did a great job and they deserve a lot of credit for jumping in to help us.”
Boaters and anglers from across the region descended on Lake Huron and the St. Clair River for the 41st installment of the event hosted by the Bluewater Anglers, which ran from Apr. 28 to May 7.
Braving waves and wind on Lake Huron, Camlachie resident Brian Donkers reeled in the biggest salmon this year, tipping the scales at 14.46 lbs.
But the biggest fish was actually caught by London resident Robert Perkins, who landed a 15.38-pounder on Day Seven.
In true sportsman fashion, Perkins disqualified himself after he realized he hadn’t followed derby rules, which state that all occupants of a boat must be registered.
Heckley said Perkins took his wife out on the boat that day to celebrate their anniversary, but because she hadn’t registered to compete he willingly took his prize-winning catch out of the running.
“It was a very nice thing on his part,” said Heckley. “We would’ve never known.”
And the winners are:
Salmon: 14.46 lb. by Brian Donkers of Camlachie
Trout – Boat: 7.20 lb. rainbow trout by Scott Dezort, of Sarnia
Trout – Shore: 14.56 lb. brown trout by Tyler Pavli, of Sarnia
Lake Trout: 20.80 lb. by Justin Tadgell, of Grand Bend
Walleye: 8.94 lb. by Clayton Rennie, of Sarnia
Ladies Day winner: 12.58 lb. Lake Trout by Brittany Smith, of Kettle Point
Seniors Day winner: 14.38 lb. Lake Trout by Andy Ross of Sarnia
Kids Biggest Fish winner: 13.92 lb. Lake Trout by Sam Dezort, of Sarnia