SOUTH BAYMOUTH – In what can only be described as the most exciting finish in the Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic’s four-year history, Sean Leduc of Sudbury and Dave Adamczak of Espanola pulled through with the top fish at the 11th hour, just before the end of the annual derby last Sunday morning.
The pair told The Expositor they launched the boat at around 5 am Sunday morning at Providence Bay. The night before they had made the decision to try their luck a little deeper than they had normally been fishing—that gut feeling paid off to the tune of $12,000.
It was just after 7 am when the rod went off.
“When I set the hook I said ‘this is it’,” Mr. Leduc said.
“We just kept saying ‘this is it!’ This is it!’,” a grinning Mr. Adamczak added.
“I knew for sure it was either going to be first or second place,” Mr. Leduc said, noting the 45-minute fight it took to land the 31.18-pound salmon.
The fishermen said they made a deal before their first Salmon Classic a few years ago that they would share the take if they found themselves in the winners’ circle. Mr. Leduc said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with his share, but knew that it would help contribute toward his taxidermy costs. He also might use the funds to make a special trip to New York to try to fish there with one of their angling idols.
When asked what they used to lure in the big fish the pair just laughed. “Something green and white and silver,” was all they’d say.
Leonard Mooney of Sudbury came in a close second with his 30.73-pound salmon caught in the North Channel’s West Bay. His massive fish had hung in at the top spot since August 8. Most were sure he had the derby in the bag.
Mr. Mooney said he caught his lunker in the early evening. Alone in the boat, it took him 40 minutes to maneuver it in singlehandedly.
“I knew it was a good one,” he said. “Right away it let out over 400 feet of line.”
Mr. Mooney is no stranger to catching big fish. Back in the heyday of salmon fishing, before the alewife collapse, Mr. Mooney had landed a salmon over 36 pounds and never forgot the feeling. “So I knew it was definitely over 20 pounds.”
“It’s been 20 years since this caliber of fish has been caught,” he added. “It was a great tournament.” Mr. Mooney took home $4,000 for his efforts.
In third place for heaviest salmon was James Michlouski with his 27.56-pound salmon caught at Providence Bay ($2,000); fourth was Moe Gauthier with his 26.14-pound offering brought in at South Baymouth ($1,000); and fifth, Tehkummah’s Jason Millette for his 25.94-pound fish caught at Providence Bay ($500).
Mr. Patterson noted that for the first time since the derby’s inception, the top 25 fish were all over 21 pounds—a testament to the salmon’s rebound in Lake Huron’s waters, something Mr. Patterson had publicly predicted at the windup of the first tournament.
In the heaviest trout division, Dave Jordan came first for his 17.20-pound trout caught at Meldrum Bay ($2,500); second was Dave Spencer and his 17.05-pound trout, also weighed in at Meldrum Bay; third was Bob Hore and his 16.9-pound trout weighed in at Gore Bay; and fourth and fifth prizes both went to Louise Spencer for her fish weighing in 16.04 and 16.10 pounds, respectively.
In the youth division, Logan Sullivan won the top spot with his 22.73-pound salmon caught at Providence Bay ($500). Kiyana Drovin Pinkos came second with a 20.11-pound salmon; Hudson Byck in third with his 19.85-pound salmon; Noah Coyne in fourth with his 19.22-pound salmon; and fifth, Macey Kiviaho with her 16.88-pound salmon.
Winner of the heaviest fish for week one and $1,000 was Jasen Millette for his 25.94-pound salmon.
Ron LeClair was the lucky winner of the Jake’s Home Centres target weight contest for his 16.37-pound salmon. The target weight was 16.39 pounds. Mr. LeClair took home a Broil King smoker valued at $1,000 thanks to Jake’s Home Centres.
“It was a really good derby,” Dave Patterson, Salmon Classic organizer and emcee for the wrap-up event began. “Next year the fish will be even bigger, I promise.”
Mr. Patterson told the large crowd on hand at South Baymouth’s John Budd Park that funds from this year’s Salmon Classic will be going to help Manitoulin salmon restocking efforts, beginning with the Manitou River. His news was met with a big round of applause.
Mr. Patterson thanked the many anglers that took part in the 2019 edition of the Salmon Classic as well the weigh-in station operators, ticket sellers and sponsors who helped to make the derby possible.
To start things off Mr. Patterson drew five names at random to win tickets to next year’s derby, all of whom were women: Shelley Moreau, Tanya Cannell, Diane Sullivan, Lorraine Mooney and Jessica Sterrett.
Up Top Sports Shop donated many great prizes to the event including a sonar unit for cell phones, which was won by Sylvio Vaillancourt; a depth-finder won by Bob Moreau; an inflatable bag won by Adrianne Merrylees; a fishing line camera won by Terry Sagle; a bag of lures won by Jason Michlouski; and a mini Scotty downrigger won by Al Murdoch. Up Top goodie bags were won by Paul Heastont, Deanna McChristie, Jim Michlouski, Janet James and Darrell James.
“A big thank you to everyone who makes this derby possible,” Mr. Patterson said. “Until next year.”
To view the final results, visit FishManitoulin.com and click on ‘past winners.’