Old-school skills at Big Rock Fishing Derby

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This year’s Big Rock Fishing Derby, held on Lake Mistissini July 14-16, posed a challenging twist to contestants. For the first time ever, fish-finder and GPS technologies that have become so common in the sport were forbidden.

“This year was very short notice and it was also very different,” said derby director Guy Poulin. “It was interesting to see who the best fishermen were without any of the technology. Turned out that the fishermen enjoyed the challenge.”

Poulin said that despite the late start organizing this year’s derby, everything came together smoothly in the end with security in place and fishing getting underway at 6 am on each of the three days. He noted that organizers and participants enjoyed excellent weather throughout the entire event and said there were plenty of smiles and lots of action.

“We saw happy fishermen throughout the weekend,” he said. “Everyone was running to and from the scale to be able to release their fish alive, as it is a catch-and-release derby.”

Poulin was pleased to share that this year’s Big Rock Fishing Derby brought out the best in the people who competed and demonstrated what the fishing competitions are all about – sportsmanship. He said that throughout the event exceptional sportsmanship was displayed by all, citing one story as a prime example.

“When there’s a derby, there are always accusations of cheating but this year was different,” he said. “A fellow named Nathaniel from Mistissini caught a seven-pounder [walleye] but had already logged his catches for the day. There were three other fishermen in the boat with him and rather than giving it to a friend, he threw it back in. The sportsmanship was very good this year.”

Impressive stuff considering how much money was on the line. This year’s big winner was René Picard, who took first place in the walleye category with a total weight of 158.91 pounds and went home with a cool $20,000.

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Rounding out the top five in the walleye category were Sylvain Ménard (153.84 lbs), Abel Mianscum (143.16 lbs), Lawrence Petawabano (142.7 lbs) and Joanne Sam (140.41 lbs).

The biggest walleye catch of the weekend went to Jerome Happyjack, who earned $5000 for his 7.65-pound, 28.5-inch long snag. Happyjack won the daily prize on Day 3 with the same catch, while Leslie Tent and Sylvain Ménard won largest walleye on Days 1 and 2 respectively.

In the pike category, Abel Mianscum’s 16.37 lbs catch won first place and $3000 as well as Day 2’s daily prize and the biggest pike overall at the weekend derby. Finishing second to fifth overall for pike were Didier Germain, Philip M. Shecapio, Robert Jimiken Jr. and Wejawabiano Neacappo. Shecapio and Neacappo were the daily pike winners on Days 1 and 2.


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