Port Elgin's Pepin wins derby


By Josh Howald

Dan Pepin might finally be getting a boat of his own.


Dan Pepin, left, and Brian Lang of the Chantry Chinook Classic Fish Derby committee Sunday in Tiverton.


The 31-year-old from Port Elgin is $15,000 richer after reeling in the biggest salmon of the 34th annual Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby.


His catch weighed in at 21.32-pounds, enough to win Lake Huron's biggest fishing derby.


"It isn't the biggest fish I have ever caught, but it is the biggest salmon I have ever caught," said Pepin Sunday afternoon prior to the derby's closing ceremonies at the Whitney Crawford Community Centre in Tiverton.


"I didn't know right away," he said. "I knew it was bigger than 15 (pounds) but I wasn't too sure if it would be a contender or not. I have never really caught one that big so I wasn't sure if it would break the 20-pound mark or not. It did."


Pepin was out fishing with his father-in-law, Jamie Smith, in front of Southampton when he caught the monster fish at about 6:30 p.m. on the third day of the derby using spoons. They were on Smith's boat.


"It was a double header. My father-in-law had a fish on the line when this one hit. If he hadn't already been fighting one, there might have been a fight for the rod," Pepin chuckled.


Pepin said despite some questionable weather during the derby, conditions were good for the most part.


"I made it out most nights. When (Smith) was busy, I was out hopping on other boats. Conditions were pretty good. The water turned about halfway through the derby though on the (Lake) Huron side so we did hit Georgian Bay side a couple of times too.


My wife sent me a picture of my daughter with a medal that she had won playing soccer, and I sent them back a picture of a nice fish."


From that point, Pepin kept on fishing while playing the waiting game to see if his catch would hang on as the derby's biggest salmon.


It did, so now Pepin will be investigating the purchase of his own boat.


"I should probably go halfsy (with the prize money) with my father-in-law though, too," he said.


His catch wasn't quite as big as last year's winning fish (a 23.78-pound Chinook caught by Goderich's Jordan MacDougall) but the total number of fish caught in this year's derby was up from last year, said organizers.


The Lake Huron Fishing Club, which organizes the derby, lamented the derby happening during a full moon, but still considered this year's derby a succesful one.


The best trout belonged to Kincardine's own Ernest Ackert. He reeled in a 22.79-pound lake trout on Friday. That catch knocked Mike Weber of Waterloo out of the lead, which he had held since the second day of the Chantry Chinook Classic.


Ackert took home a cheque for $7,500 for winning the trout division.


More than $60,000 worth of prizes were handed out Sunday in Tiverton.


Darrell Emmerson was the top Kincardine resident in the salmon category. He was 13th with a Chinook salmon that weighed in just under 15 pounds. Dave James of Ripley finished 21st with a 14.11-pound Chinook Salmon.


Derek Griffiths of Kincardine was fifth in the trout division with an 18-pound laker he pulled in on the derby's second day.