MANITOULIN – During the past five years, salmon fishing and in particular, The Manitoulin Salmon Classic, has become synonymous with an Island summer. This year COVID-19 struck, and with the flagship salmon derby cancelled, Ontario Fishing Guys (OFG)—Aaron Case (Bone) and Dave Patterson—stepped up to the plate and delivered a home run two-day Manitoulin Salmon Shootout.

“Bone and I quickly put this derby together, we had just over two weeks to make it happen,” Mr. Patterson explained. “We wanted to give the fishermen that come to Manitoulin yearly a little something to brighten the summer.”

To make this a fundraiser, OFG came up with a novel approach to the prize money. 

The Manitoulin Salmon Shootout had 270 anglers vying for the title of champion salmon angler. At $50 a ticket, this equated to a substantial cash payout for the top three heaviest fish and a much welcome cash donation for Manitoulin Streams, Little Current Fish and Game Club and Gore Bay Fish and Game Club.

First place went to past Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic winner Chris Wdowiak of Sudbury. Mr. Wdowiak took home a whopping $6,750 in cold hard cash for his 22.27-pound Chinook salmon.

Jody Villeneuve, also from Sudbury, took home second place with a 21.89-pound Chinook. The fish was worth $2,700 to Mr. Villeneuve.

Third place went to Manitoulin’s own Aspen Debassige of M’Chigeeng. Aspen, age 13, boasted a 20.88-pound Chinook worth $1,350.

The two local fish and game clubs, Little Current and Gore Bay, and Manitoulin Streams will receive $900 that will be bonused up to $1,000 each thanks to The Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic.

“I like even numbers,” Mr. Patterson said of both the OFG and Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic donation. “These are tough times we are all facing, and the extra money we will put in to make it an even $1,000 will hopefully help fill a gap in the finances of these incredible and much-needed organizations.”

Salmon Shootout organizers, Ontario Fishing Guys Dave Patterson and Aaron Case, flank second prize winner Jody Villeneuve of Sudbury, who took a second place $2,700 cheque with a 21.89-pound Chinook.

The OFG thanked all the fishermen who attended, weigh station volunteers and local businesses that went out of their way to make this event a huge success.

“The feedback we have received and the response from everyone has blown us away,” Mr. Case noted, adding, “We appreciate all the help we received with running the weigh stations. This derby would never happen with you all.”

“Manitoulin has an abundance of fishing opportunities,” Mr. Patterson said. “We are privileged to live in such a place and have the opportunities we have. What a fantastic fishing community! Thank you all and watch for more OFG derbies to come.”

Third place went to Manitoulin’s own Aspen Debassige of M’Chigeeng. Aspen boasted a 20.88-pound Chinook worth $1,350 and is pictured here with dad Neil Debassige, host of the Fuel the Fire outdoor television program.