WIKWEMIKONG—The number of fisherfolk willing to brave one of the coldest days of the year might have been down, but the excitement on the ice was high as word spread that a tagged fish had been hauled up through the ice 25 minutes into the start of the derby.
Nobody was more excited than Al Bois of Espanola, who not only hauled up the second largest fish (a three-pound, four-ounce rainbow) for a second prize catch of $2,000 at 8:25 am, but it was also the first tagged fish, which netted him a brand new 2016 Polaris Ranger 570 UTV from Trailside Sports.
Aaron Recollet was all smiles as well, his first prize fish was a whopping eight-pounds, four ounces, big enough to pull the first prize of $3,500.
Jamison Misquadis of Parry Sound had his ticket drawn from the bin for the $1,000 third prize.
The Pimped Hut prize, valued at $3,500, also included a pair of Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic tickets and a ‘Stay and Fish’ package with My Friends Inn and Wass Tours, along with a six-man portable ice hut fully loaded with fishing supplies, gas auger, towing sleigh, portable heater, fish finder and a bundle of FishBum apparel, was won by Lori Lemaigne of Toronto (formerly La Loche, Saskatchewan).
The youth prize, sponsored by the Fuel the Fire television program, was won by Trayton Jonus of Cape Croker and the earlybird winner, drawn from the 172 tickets sold before January 29, was Lloyd McGregor. The season pass to Rainbow Ridge Golf Course was won by Jake Trudeau, while two tickets to the 2016 inaugural Expositor Salmon Classic fishing derby were won by Leanne Desbiens.
Although some Northern fishing derbies were cancelled this year, most notably the Elliot Lake event, the ice conditions at the Wikwemikong derby were fine, with 11 inches of total ice, a black ice base of 6.5 inches accompanied by 4.5 inches of white ice.
This year’s cash payout was a guaranteed $6,500 for the top three fish with overall prizing valued at $30,000, plus hundreds of door prizes. In addition, there will be cash and product prizes for the top 10 fish caught. All registered participants were entered to win a 2016 Rainbow Ridge Golf Course season pass and 172 entrants had signed up before January 29, to qualify for the early bird draw of $500. Ken Still won the 50/50 draw of $497.
Next year’s top prize of $10,000 was announced during the afternoon social following the derby by tournament organizer Luke Wassegijig.