MANITOULIN – The fifth edition of The Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic wrapped up on Sunday and despite some wicked winds over the two-week duration, anglers still managed to bring in some top quality fish for the win.
Kevin Huot, a seasonal resident of South Baymouth, snagged Salmon Classic honours this year with his 25.52 lb beauty, caught in South Bay. Mr. Huot’s fish was caught early in the derby, on August 4, so he’s been holding his breath ever since, he admits.
Mr. Huot says he took that day, a Wednesday, off from work to go fish the derby. He was short his usual fishing partner, his son.
“It was the only fish I caught that day,” he tells The Expositor. As the salmon was brought in during the first week of the derby, “every day was like a countdown to the end,” Mr. Huot admits, with all eyes on the live leaderboard.
As per typical summertime salmon fishing rules, Mr. Huot says he normally fishes down deep, but this time he switched things up to the shallows. His network of fishing friends had also been discussing their luck with glow-in-the-dark spoons, and he caught this fish on a green glow-in-the-dark Moonshine spoon. While purple spoons are normally his go-to, green did the trick.
Mr. Huot says he has no plans just yet for his over $8,000 windfall, but admits it will likely include more fishing gear, he laughs. “It’s still just sinking in that I actually won.”
“It was a great tournament,” Mr. Huot continues. “Just catching one of these fish, and landing it, by myself, it was almost magical.”
“I played the fish for over 45 minutes and managed to have just everything come together,” he adds.
Mr. Huot doesn’t have a big, fancy salmon boat. His vessel is a 17’ pike boat rigged for salmon that he’s been using since 1987. He has a lot of fond memories in this boat.
“I fish the derby every year,” Mr. Huot continues. “I’ve come to love the camaraderie of the South Baymouth crowd. It’s like our own little BC in Ontario.”
Mr. Huot thanked Salmon Classic organizer Dave Patterson and The Expositor for hosting the annual derby. “I really enjoy it.”
Rounding out the podium is Adam Speck with his 22.94 lb salmon caught on August 7 in Providence Bay, and Alvin Pangowish with his 22.44 lb catch brought in on August 2 from North Channel waters.
Mr. Patterson gave high praise to Mr. Huot for his top-notch fish, noting he was pleased to see an angler who has been supporting the derby since its inception take home a prize for his efforts. Mr. Huot is no stranger to the podium, having won the trout category during the derby’s second year.
Mr. Patterson says this year’s two-week format seemed to go over really well with the anglers, but lamented the less-than-favourable fishing conditions experienced over much of that time. “Anglers did quite well considering the lack of fishable time.”
Over 330 tickets were sold to this Salmon Classic this year, meaning first place will take home over $8,000, second prize over $4,000 and third prize over $2,000. (Exact figures were not available as of press time Monday as, well, The Expositor crew also had a newspaper to get out!)
Mr. Patterson says he was pleased to see a number of family groups fishing together, like past derby Winner Chris Wodiak and his brother, who came up from southern Ontario for the event, and Neil Debassige and daughter Aspen.
He also thanked Darrell James, who ran the Providence Bay weigh station, and Grant Moggy, “who came out of retirement” to run the South Baymouth weigh station, for their hard work with the event. He also sang the praises of South Baymouth Marina attendants Dan and Chance for their accommodating ways.
Thirty-one fish were weighed in during the two-week event, which Mr. Patterson was happy to see, noting that the spirit of the live leaderboard was in full display with people mostly only weighing fish that would have been contenders, allowing those other fish to swim another day.