By Pauline Kerr
Brian Lang, chair of the Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby 2019, hopes this will be the year for some very large fish.
He’s fished in every derby since the beginning. This is the 36th year for “the largest salmon derby on Lake Huron.”
He explained that in the early days of the derby, 35-pound fish weren’t unusual. In recent years, the fish have been smaller. However, the return of more baitfish has meant larger salmon, and he has hopes for something that will surpass last year’s 25-pound fish.
So far this year, although still early in the season, there have been some 18- and 19-pounders. “The lake’s still very cold,” he said.
Lang said in the early days, alewives would wash up on the beach in large numbers. “That’s why salmon were introduced, to eat the alewives.”
Lang said baitfish seem to be coming back in Lake Huron, although in this area it tends to be smelt. There are some alewives coming back to the northern part of the lake. The return of baitfish may have something to do with zebra mussels not being as much of a problem as they used to be, he said.
He’s hoping the lake will warm up a bit before the derby begins. It won’t take many days of the warm weather enjoyed on the Canada Day weekend to make a difference. “Ideally it should be between 48 and 52 degrees,” Lang said. “right now it’s 52 degrees at the surface,” with deeper water around 44 degrees.
Lang said he’s also hoping for an excellent turnout. “We’ve averaged between 1,450 and 1,600 participants in the last few years,” he said. “Participation has gone up with the return of some decent-sized fish.” People come to the derby from all over this part of Ontario, from as far south as Sarnia to Meaford and Owen Sound. There are even a few Americans vacationing in the area who participate in the derby.
This year’s Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby 2019 takes place from Saturday, July 27 to Sunday, Aug. 11. Tickets and information are available on-line.
There will be four weigh stations – Kincardine Harbour, Port Elgin Harbour, Pike Bay (By the Bay Resort) and Wiarton (Lures N Lines).
The Kincardine station is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. daily except Aug. 11, when it’s open 10 a.m.-noon.
The prize money is substantial. For the largest salmon, it’s $15,000, with second place gettingm$4,000, and third place, $2,000.
Prizes for the largest trout are $7,500 (first, $1,500 (second) and $750 (third).
There are a number of other prizes – $1,000 for the largest salmon by the end of the first week of the derby, $500 for the largest trout by the end of the first week of the derby, $500 for the largest rainbow trout during the derby, $500 for the largest brown trout during the derby, and prizes for the salmon and trout closest to the specified weight of 14.36 pounds – $250 gift certificate for Lake Huron Rod and Gun for the salmon, $250 gift certificate for J&S Tackle for the trout.
There’s a $500 prize for the largest salmon during the derby on a junior ticket, a $400 bicycle for the largest salmon on a junior ticket on Kids Day Aug. 3, plus daily prizes of a rod and reel for the largest salmon at each weigh station, and a $75 gift certificate for Lake Huron Rod and Gun or J&S Tackle for the daily hidden weight.
The derby features benefit barbecues, media/sponsor appreciation day, ladies days, seniors days, and the awards/closing ceremonies.
Closing ceremonies will take place at the Tiverton Community Centre on Aug. 11. The hall opens at noon, with lunch available. Ceremonies begin at 1:30 p.m.
By Pauline Kerr