Inaugural Salmon Classic wraps up with $25K in prize giveaways

BIG FISH, BIG PRIZES––Reinhard Roick of Ottawa, centre, poses with a $12,000 novelty cheque for reeling in the top fish at 22.75 lbs in the first Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic, which wrapped up on Sunday in Providence Bay. Mr. Roick is pictured with, left, Moe Gauthier of Screamin’ Reels Charters, who took Mr. Roick out on the bounding main on his winning day from South Baymouth, and Salmon Classic lead organizer Dave Patterson. photo by Alicia McCutcheon

MANITOULIN—That’s a wrap, folks! The inaugural Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic wrapped up on Sunday before an enthusiastic crowd of fisherfolk at the Providence Bay Marina, swapping tales of the ones that got away, while $25,000 in cash prizes was awarded to six successful souls.

Manitoulin Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon began the Salmon Classic proceedings by explaining how the idea for Northern Ontario’s largest salmon fishing tournament came to fruition. Following a meeting of independent newspaper publishers in the fall of last year, at which Expositor production manager Dave Patterson was a guest speaker on the topic of social media, Mr. Patterson left with the idea of hosting a salmon derby following another presentation on newspapers as events coordinators.

Don Hysert of Tehkummah accepts his $2,500 novelty cheque from Salmon Classic lead Dave Patterson.
Don Hysert of Tehkummah accepts his $2,500 novelty cheque from Salmon Classic lead Dave Patterson.

Mr. Patterson, an avid fisherman himself, pitched the idea to the publishers and the blessing was given to run with it.

Mr. McCutcheon noted that more than 30 years ago, he was at a meeting between the Manitoulin Tourism Association, when he was president at the time, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Jim Sloss and his late father Elwood who were representing recreational fishing interests. At that meeting, the talk was of stocking splake and lake trout (the Sloss family was adamantly opposed to splake), but Mr. McCutcheon recalled Jim Sloss also giving an impassioned plea for salmon, “which was coming into its own then. ‘People like catching big fish’,” he recalled Mr. Sloss as saying. Mr. Sloss has been active for many years in the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club and its salmon hatchery program and just recently retired as the founding chair of the United Fish and Game Club of Manitoulin.

“Thirty years later, here we are,” he added, thanking everyone for coming, for participating, and acknowledging the many sponsors who helped make the Salmon Classic possible and assisting in the costs of off-Island marketing.

“We started this because we wanted to bring some tourism dollars back to Manitoulin and to get back out fishing the way people used to,” Salmon Classic coordinator Dave Patterson said, addressing the crowd of avid fishermen gathered on the marina deck. “There were lots of fish caught, and we’re definitely going to continue the derby next year.”

He noted with a grin that next year’s derby ticket will go up in price by $5, to $65, as he made the mistake of not factoring in tax, which left his office manager unhappy.

There will also be a change in date for the Salmon Classic for 2017, running from the last Saturday of July, July 29, for four weeks.

“We’re also going to hand out another $5,000 in prizes—$100 a day for the biggest fish for each day and we’re also going to run the leaderboard up to 25,” Mr. Patterson explained. “The main cash prizes will remain the same.”

Moe Gauthier, left, of Screamin’ Reels Charters based out of South Baymouth, helps Reinhard Roick of Ottawa heft his 22.75 lb first place salmon.
Moe Gauthier, left, of Screamin’ Reels Charters based out of South Baymouth, helps Reinhard Roick of Ottawa heft his 22.75 lb first place salmon.

Mr. Patterson thanked all of the weigh stations. “They did a fantastic job and I can’t thank them enough,” he said to much applause, giving a special shout out to Assiginack, who got behind the Salmon Classic from the very beginning, hiring a summer student, Claire Hutton, to run the Manitowaning weigh station over the three weeks.

“We’re also going to have a little competition—‘who can out-fish Dave’,” he said of next year’s derby. “Every time I go fishing, which is usually two or three days a week, if you beat my best fish from that day with a fish weighed that same day, your name will be entered into a draw for a cash prize, and you can enter as many times as I have fished.”

Mr. Patterson noted that the Salmon Classic will also have a kids’ prize for largest fish too, so stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Mr. Patterson then got down to business—the awarding of the cash prizes, with almost all of the winners on hand to collect their winnings. First place went to Reinhard Roick of Ottawa for his 22.75 lb salmon caught off of South Baymouth, $12,000; second place, Kevin Boyd of Hanmer for his 21.69 lb salmon caught at Providence Bay, $4,000; third place, Neil McNally of Massey for his 20.08 lb salmon caught in the North Channel at Darch Island, $2,000; Ian Anderson with his 20.04 lb salmon, also caught in the North Channel at Clapperton, $1,000; and fifth, John Henderson with his 19.69 lb salmon caught at Meldrum Bay, $500.

Local fisherman Don Hysert of Tehkummah won the heaviest trout competition and was awarded $2,500 for his efforts. While accepting his cheque, Mr. Hysert said, “When I caught my trout I heard, ‘it’s just another lake trout’ and ‘greaseballs.’ Well, I love lake trout!” to much applause.

First place winner Mr. Roick told The Expositor that he hopes to give a repeat performance of his win next year, explaining that he first went salmon fishing 30 years ago off Meldrum Bay. He’s now a regular fisher in Island waters, often with friend Gary Cooper of Manitowaning, who told him about the Salmon Classic. Mr. Roick fished with Screamin’ Reels Charters of South Baymouth for the derby.

One thousand dollars a week was awarded over the three weeks for heaviest fish of the week. Those winners are: week one, Kevin Boyd of Hanmer; week two, Neil McNally of Massey; and week three, Reinhard Roick of Ottawa.

Winner of a stay for two at Huron Motor Lodge was Kevin Boyd. Winners of the heaviest fish caught on July 26, 27 and 28 for the prize of a Buck fishing knife courtesy of Mac’s Camp are, respectively, Nick Purvis, Robert Zandarin and Christian Seguin.

Winner of the heaviest fish on July 29 was Al Murdoch of Hanmer, winning $80 in gift certificates to the Red Dog Grill in Whitefish Falls.

John Henderson is all smiles with his fifth place catch of a 19.69 pound salmon brought in at Meldrum Bay.
John Henderson is all smiles with his fifth place catch of a 19.69 pound salmon brought in at Meldrum Bay.

Winner of the mystery weight and the 15,000 BTU vertical propane smoker courtesy of Jake’s Home Centre in Mindemoya was Michel Henri of Sudbury.

Winner of the August 6-7 heaviest fish competition of a two-night stay for two people at Island Spring Cottages in Mindemoya is Ray Debois, while winner of the heaviest fish caught August 9, 10 and 11, and winning a $100 gift card courtesy of McDougall Fuels, are, respectively, Raymond Charette, Brian Buis and Paul Sisson.

And lastly, winner of the heaviest salmon caught on August 12, taking home two outdoor hanging chairs courtesy of Remedy Rx of Espanola, is Charles Baird.

Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens came to Sunday’s windup event at the Providence Bay Marina to thank The Expositor for organizing this new event. “It’s been a great thing for our municipality and, I would think, most Island municipalities,” he told Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon.

Mayor Stephens encouraged The Expositor to come to a Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) meeting and tell municipal representatives the economic impact of this event.

Tickets for next year’s Salmon Classic will go on sale starting September 1 at www.fishmanitouln.com and at The Expositor office in Little Current and at The Recorder in Gore Bay.

From left, Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon, Ian Anderson, fourth place, Don Hysert, heaviest trout winner, Reinhard Roick, winner, Kevin Boyd, second, Salmon Classic lead organizer Dave Patterson, front row, Michel Henri, mystery weight winner, and Neil McNally, third place, pose for a group photo following the Salmon Classic roundup. Missing from photo is fifth place winner John Henderson.
From left, Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon, Ian Anderson, fourth place, Don Hysert, heaviest trout winner, Reinhard Roick, winner, Kevin Boyd, second, Salmon Classic lead organizer Dave Patterson, front row, Michel Henri, mystery weight winner, and Neil McNally, third place, pose for a group photo following the Salmon Classic roundup. Missing from photo is fifth place winner John Henderson.