• Outdoors Column for July 25, 2013

    Salmon anglers throughout the region and beyond are sharpening hooks, spooling line, and stocking up on the hottest lures as they wait for “derby season” in Grey-Bruce to commence. This coming weekend marks the start of the 30th annual Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby, hosted by the Lake Huron Fishing Club. Hundreds of local and travelling anglers will be plying the waters of both Huron and Georgian Bay as they attempt to bring the heaviest salmon and trout to the scales during this long running event. It is hard to believe that the Chantry Chinook Classic has turned 30 years old, and it just keeps getting better with age.

    Touted as Lake Huron’s largest fishing derby, the Chantry has been an angler favorite for thirty years. Hosted by the Lake Huron Fishing Club, the derby acts as a major fundraiser for fisheries and conservation projects carried out by the Club. The LHFC is responsible for two major hatchery operations and the stocking of steelhead, Chinook salmon and Brown trout in Lake Huron and local watersheds. Without major events like the Chantry derby, the LHFC and other local conservations clubs would find it difficult to generate the funds to provide anglers with the local offshore fisheries we have today.

    The Chantry runs from July 27 until August 11th, providing anglers with 16 days of angling opportunities. Tickets for the event cost $30 per single entry or $60 for a family ticket. Weigh-stations for the event can be found at the Kincardine marina, Port Elgin harbor and in Pike Bay at “By the Bay Resort”. The Chantry boundaries allow anglers to fish not only the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula, but also a section of Georgian Bay which provides anglers with the opportunity to safely fish when west winds kick up large waves on Huron. Waters open to derby anglers include Lake Huron from Point Albert north to Stokes Bay, and Georgian Bay waters that include Lion’s Head, Barrow Bay, and Dyer’s Bay. Exact limits for the boundary waters can be found in the Chantry Derby brochure or online at www.chantrychinook.com.

    The prize structure for the Chantry derby brings big cash to the table for winning anglers. Top salmon of the derby will take home $14,000, while the largest overall trout will win $6000. The top 3 fish in each category will win cash, while a boat load of prizes from the sponsor board will be awarded to the remaining top 25 salmon and trout. The Chantry Derby also awards a cash prize for the angler who catches the largest total weight for five salmon, and another prize for the largest total weight of five trout.

    Once again, the Chantry has provided a category for overall largest Rainbow Trout (steelhead) caught during the derby. This year, some lucky angler will reel in a steelhead that wins a custom created centerpin float reel and custom float rod package worth $2,500. All steelhead stocked in the Saugeen are raised in LHFC hatcheries, so this category shines light on the hard work undertaken on the Saugeen by the LHFC and the Ontario Steelheaders.

    The opportunities to win prizes during the Chantry do not stop there! The salmon entered that tips the scales closest to 13.0lbs will win a hidden weight prize, there are daily hidden weight prizes, a cash prize for the top salmon entered by a junior angler, a prize for largest salmon entered on Kid’s Day (Aug. 3) and a prize for the largest salmon entered each day at each separate weigh station.

    Along with the opportunity to win prizes for catching large salmon and trout, the Chantry provides anglers and the public alike with a number of special events during the course of the derby. There will be two separate “Ladies Days” on July 28 and August 4. Seniors Days will take place on July 31 and August 7. Kids Day will take place on August 3rd, with activities available at each weigh station as well as the Sauble River Marina. The “all you can eat” fish fry will take place on Saturday August 10th at the Kincardine harbor along with the closing ceremony on Sunday August 11th at the Tiverton Community Center. There is plenty to do during the Chantry so make the most out of this event that has become a tradition throughout the Saugeen Shores region.

    Angling reports for Huron have been coming in with some positive outlook for the Chantry derby. Last week, there was a hot salmon bite reported off Kincardine, north to the BNPD site. Anglers trolling Hotfish Spoons, Silver Fox and Northern Kings were reporting good catches of Chinooks over deep water from 70 to 150 feet. The heavy winds during the storm on the weekend would have spread some of those fish out both north and south providing further opportunity for anglers during the Chantry. Anglers who ventured away from the boats fishing the stretch near Kincardine reported large numbers of steelhead being caught high in the water column. Last year, the Chantry derby broke an all time record for number of steelhead entered during the derby, partly because of the success of the stocking program on the Saugeen. Anglers looking to target these silver rockets should concentrate on surface temperature breaks, and debris slicks far offshore. Steelhead tend to spend more time near the surface than Chinooks and can provide heart pounding excitement with their acrobatics when hooked. Planer boards, Dipsy Divers and Leadcore lines trolled on or near the surface are sure bets for boxing a number of rainbows.

    Often we take things like our resources and angling opportunities for granted. We are pretty lucky to have two large salmon derbies right here in our region with the Chinook Chantry Classic and the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular, which takes place later in August. Plenty of travelling anglers book their summer holidays according to these events. They rent motels, book campsites, eat at local restaurants, splurge at local gas pumps and continue to invest money in our tourism dependent region. Most anglers venturing to our region to take part in these derbies bring their families along as well, making Grey-Bruce a destination for summer fun. I may sound like a broken record, but this is a perfect example of how far reaching and important our local fisheries are to the region. Good luck to all those who take part in the 2013 Chantry Chinook Classic, maybe I will see you on the water!