WIKWEMIKONG—Not too hot, not too cold, the Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby hit the sweet spot this year in weather, and the overcast skies enticed plenty of bites—although the tally came to eight fish hauled up through the ice to be entered in the contest.
Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby organizer Luke Wassegijig of Wikwemikong Tourism was beaming as he thanked the derby sponsors at the start of the awards ceremony, centering out Fuel the Fire Television. “How many people were here last year?” he asked, drawing a response of about half the hands in the audience, the other half raised their hands when asked who was there for the first time.
Mr. Wassegijig read a welcome to the community from Chief Duke Peltier, who thanked the fisherfolk for taking part in the community.
Several volunteers came up to accept certificates of appreciation from the organizer. “We owe a great deal to our volunteers,” he said. “A special thanks goes out to Peter Jones and his crew.”
But after that it was quickly down to the business at hand.
“One of the things that makes us so successful are the prizes,” laughed Mr. Wassegijig as he launched into the awarding of prizes.
Seven year-old Javier Salas-Cooper did the honours of pulling the winning early bird ticket from the drum, to the delight of winner Lyndon Peltier of Aundeck Omni Kaning.
With eight fish caught this year, only two winners had to be drawn from the drum. Robin A. Peltier took the 10th prize of a Lucky Strike fishing bundle home while Ron Dominic snagged the 9th place prize of a $250 gift certificate from Manitowaning Mill Home Hardware.
The untagged 1.3 lb rainbow hauled up at 9:03 am by Chris Palowich secured the eighth prize UCCM Building Supplies generator; seventh prize of a gas auger from the Manitowaning NAPA dealership (NAPA Auto Parts—Allen’s Automotive Group (Manitoulin) Inc.) was won by Diane Recollet with her 1.45 lb tagged fish pulled in at 8:25 am; sixth place prize of the Ice Flasher 55 (winter time fish finder) was won with a 1.54 lb untagged fish hauled up at 8:28 am by Matt Foley; fifth prize of a 58-inch flat screen television was won by Shelly Trudeau with a wild rainbow weighing 2.07 lbs. Fourth prize of a one-year membership to Rainbow Ridge Golf Course was won by golfer James Lungren, with a 2.09 lb fish hauled up at 9:32 am.
Then it was into the big money, with the $1,500 third prize going to Kyle Verna for the 2.55 lb fish he caught at 10:11 am. Second prize of $2,000 went to Yves Foyer for his untagged 3.17 lb fish caught at 9:23 am.
The grand prize of $3,500 went to Mitch Dane, who pulled in a 3.3. pound tagged fish at 9:53 am. Mr. Dane wasn’t done winning, however, as he also won the Pimped Hut prize valued at $4,500, making his winnings a cool $8,000.
Anticipation was high as the assembly awaited the announcement of the $10,000 first tagged prize winning ticket and it was all smiles for Diane Recollet, whose 8:25 am 1.45 tagged rainbow secured the fist full of 100-dollar bills. Her secret? “Just a minnow I bought at Andy’s,” she laughed. “There you have it folks, get your minnows at Andy’s,” responded Mr. Wassegijig.
As has been the tradition at the derby, the furthest away at the luncheon won the Fish and Stay prize valued at $700. Casey Sorlano of Vancouver won, having enjoyed his very first ice fishing experience.
But the biggest grin of the day award has to go to Mahlon Streicher of Tehkummah, who won the 2017 Polaris Voyageur snowmobile. Mr. Streicher had been given a ticket by his friend Sheila Armstrong and Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong were on hand to help celebrate his win. It was hard to tell who was the most pleased at the news.