SOUTH BAYMOUTH—John Budd Memorial Park was a happening spot Sunday afternoon as fisherpeople of all ages came together to share their tales of victory and loss on the lake and to collect some major prize money, during the wrap-up party for the 2018 edition of the Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic.

The Salmon Classic, in its third year, saw a record amount of fisherfolk wet their lines for a chance to win some major cash prizes, totalling $30,000, and some pretty sweet non-cash prizes too.

Rylan Carrick of Mindemoya, age 10, held on for some time at the top of the youth category with his 16.64 salmon caught at Michael’s Bay. While Gore Bay’s Nick Purvis bumped him from his top spot on the second last day with his 22.78 lunker (hint: he used a Lyman plug), Rylan’s weight was just shy of the mystery weight winner but it was close enough to win he and his family a smoker, courtesy of Jake’s Home Centres, valued at $1,000.

Saturday, August 25 was a game changer for a few people, as this day also saw the winning salmon, and $12,000 grand prize champion, caught by Alex Daroczi of Sudbury. Mr. Daroczi’s salmon, weighed in at Providence Bay, was a hefty 24.46 pounds and knocked Bob Moreau into second place, but he won a tidy sum of $4,000 for his efforts. Mr. Moreau had held the top spot with his 23.15-pound salmon since August 13. In third place was Nick Purvis with his youth category-winning fish caught in Mudge Bay at Kagawong ($2,000), fourth was Carlo Feola with his 22.73-pound salmon brought in during the final hours of the derby Sunday ($1,000) and fifth place went to Jesse Cundari for his 22.39-efforts, also caught that final day ($500).

Dave Patterson, Salmon Classic organizer, noted that both Mr. Feola and Mr. Cundari fished the whole night through and their efforts paid off. Neither could attend the banquet as they had to be at work on Sunday, tired as they might be.

In the trout category, Rob Ouellette took top honours for his 20.23 lake trout caught way back on July 29 and which earned him $2,500.

The week one winner of $1,000 went to Moe Gauthier, whose name appeared four times in the top 25.

New this year Mr. Patterson encouraged any anglers to come up and share their fishing tales for their chance to win an amazing prize pack. He said he was moved to have the contest after hearing so many “bulls–t tales,” he laughed. Three reel-happy individuals took to the stage to share their stories of courage and bravery in the face of adversity…and maybe a little patience too, but in the end Hector Prevost was named chief knitter of yarns for the one that got away due to, ahem, a bad net and a tired wife. (Perhaps the prize should have done to Mrs. Prevost?)

Mr. Paterson thanked everyone for the he turnout, both in terms of end-of-derby wrap-up and Salmon Classic.

“It was a great ending to a great Classic,” he said.

Mr. Patterson noted that the overall average weight was up by four pounds this year and gave full credit to the seeming return of the baitfish along the south shore after years of absence. “It bodes well for the coming year,” he added.

“Congratulations to all the winners,” Mr. Patterson continued. “It came right down to the wire.”

Mr. Patterson also extended a special thank you to Jake’s Home Centres for their dedication and support year after year of the Salmon Classic, “and thanks to all the other sponsors who give us their support. Without them, we couldn’t put this tournament on and help bring millions of dollars into the Manitoulin economy, which we know is so important.”

Mr. Patterson also had high praise for the ticket sellers at Up Top Sports Shop (who also knocked it out of the park with their donation of highly sought after ‘swag bags’), Moxy’s Bait and Tackle, Tom Sasvari at the Recorder office, Ramakko’s Source for Adventure, Trailside Sports and Fishy Fishy Bang Bang in Espanola.

“And thanks to all the weigh stations—you did a fantastic job like always,” he added. “We really appreciate you going out of your way to weigh those big fish.”

Mr. Patterson said anglers will likely see a few small changes to next year’s rules and regulations, as well as the end of the mystery weight contest which will transition to a target weight. This, he said, will eliminate the need to weigh smaller fish and encourage catch and release.

Mr. Patterson said he’s pleased at the positive feedback he’s received so far, including from some Hamilton fishermen who made their first trip to Manitoulin during the final week of the derby. They said ‘when we cut into the fish, we knew we’d be back next year: it was so clean and red’,” Mr. Patterson shared. The anglers were used to fishing Lake Ontario waters, where the fish isn’t nearly as tasty, we think anyway.

For the full list of winners, visit fishmanitoulin.com and click on ‘final results 2018.’