Lake Kagawong Bass Derby celebrates 30th anniversary with records

Brad Leveille, middle, was the winner of the Lake Kagawong Smallmouth Bass Derby this past weekend hauling in a record-setting largest bass, weighing in at 5.82 pounds. PHOTO BY BETTY BARDSWICH

PROVIDENCE BAY – It seemed only fitting that on the 30th anniversary of the Lake Kagawong bass derby, a record would be set for the largest bass and the musicians, the Islanders, would play the event for their 20th year straight.

This derby was started by Herbie Colette, Lewis Hartley and Bud Weadick in memory of Steven Shank Vincent who was an ardent fisherman.

Sixty-five participants entered the derby this year, up three teams from last year, and Spring Bay Fish Club president and organizer Linda Taylor noted the high winds in her welcoming remarks at the Providence Bay hall following the derby. “You had to hang on tight to your boat,” she said, “so you didn’t get blown away.”

Ms. Taylor, along with her husband Bill and a large number of volunteers, has organized the derby for more than 20 years. These volunteers include Rolanda Tovey, who moved from Sudbury to the Island in 2003 and who either makes a beautiful quilt or has one donated—either by the Happy Quilters of Gore Bay or the Island Quilters Guild—for a draw. Ms. Tovey is past president of the guild. Other volunteers included John Tovey, Steve St Pierre, and Tony Weadick as the chefs for the fish supper, Bill Taylor manning the bar and Yvonne Bolduc of Cambridge selling tickets at the door along with Joan Vincent-Brough.

All money raised at the derby goes to the national charitable organization, the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada that brings hope and laughter to children with serious illnesses. Ms. Taylor and her daughter, Diana St. Pierre of Espanola, are the wish granters for Manitoulin and the North Shore for the charity. This year, $500 is donated to a young girl in Gore Bay for medical expenses. The money raised last year and donated to Starlight totalled $4,500. A few years ago, the money raised on Manitoulin helped toward the purchase of an entertainment unit, valued at $7,500, that was placed at Health Sciences North in Sudbury on behalf of the Kagawong Bass Derby. This unit includes a flat screen television, a DVD player and a Nintendo Wii to be used by children in that hospital.

Carly Raffie of Markham was this year’s representative of Starlight and she was effusive in her praise of the fishermen who participate in the derby and the hard work of Ms. Taylor and the many volunteers. She noted that the money raised not only helps individuals on the Island, but also right across the country. Ms. Raffie is with Starlight’s Fund Development Team. Accompanied by Alan Parker, this was the couple’s first visit to Manitoulin, Ms. Raffie said. “We love it. It is beautiful.” They plan on returning.

The Starlight Foundation has a presence in 130 hospitals across Canada and grants 50 wishes each year as well as stuffed animals and other items that help to make a child’s hospital stay less scary.

The winner of the tournament with the largest bass coming in at 5.82 pounds was Brad Leveille who was awarded the Joshua Montgomery trophy. The largest perch, at 1.21 pounds, was caught by Peter Terp and he was awarded the John Wright Memorial Trophy. The largest fish other than bass caught by a female was brought in by Connie Kiviaho and she took home the Barb Weadick award while the same category, but caught by a male winner, was Peter Terp who was awarded the Bob Haskett Memorial Trophy for his perch.

Winning the Steven Shank Award for the largest weight for six bass was the team of John Kada and Brad Leveille who had a combined weight of 24.73 pounds. Second in this category was team 13, Reg McAllister and Jack White, with a weight of 21.58 pounds. The third-place winners were David and Katherine Pearson who had a combined weight of 21.20 pounds.

Ben Dewar took home the Art Breathat Memorial Award in the three perch by youth category. The mystery weight Nora Weadick trophy was won by Lauren and Tyler Inkster with a weight of 4.01 pounds. The mystery weight had been set at 4.02 pounds.

For more information about the Starlight Foundation on Manitoulin, including wish-granting for children, contact Ms. Taylor at 705-282-2273.  For Espanola and the North Shore, contact Ms. St. Pierre at 705-869-7512.