• Outdoors July 17. 2014

    Devon Samson of Sauble Beach with a nice Chinook salmon taken last summer during the 30th annual Chantry Chinook Classic.  The salmon bit a anchovy trolled behind a rotating flasher down 100 feet off the east side of the Bruce Peninsula.For anglers throughout southern Ontario, mid summer means the return of salmon. Whether you fish the deep clear waters of Georgian Bay, or the large offshore expanses on Lake Huron, late July provides the first shot at connecting with mature Chinook and Coho salmon as they enter into their migration patterns on route to the spawning grounds of local watersheds. Mid summer also marks the start of derby season in our area, and with that comes the 31st Annual Chantry Chinook Classic.

    Last week I joined in the 2014 Chantry Chinook Classic Media Day festivities with Lake Huron Fishing Club President Mike Hahn and Bruce County Tourism’s Social Media Coordinator Shane Bage. We hit the water early in the morning for a few hours of fishing prior to the meet and greet lunch in Tiverton. Boat loads of sponsor representatives, media personnel, and politicians hit the water for the morning of fishing with more than a few salmon and trout finding their way into the ice boxes of some lucky anglers. As usual, Media Day was filled with handshakes, speeches, and pats on the back for the hard working volunteers of the LHFC, and news about the event. This year, the news is big.

    2014 marks the beginning of a new era in the Chantry Derby. Following the success of the extended boundaries which included the waters off Lion’s Head in recent years, the LHFC has now opened up the waters south to include Colpoy’s Bay. This is major news for anglers and for the local community. Mike Hahn noted, “expanding the derby waters to Wiarton provides local small boat anglers with protected waters on the eastern side of the Peninsula. With Colpoys being so close to Owen Sound, I am sure we will attract a good number of new anglers from the area”. Adding to this Hahn said, “We stayed away from expanding to this area in the past, as there was no volunteer commitment to support a weigh station, but that has changed.”

    Bob Bell, owner of the Spirit Rock Outpost and Lodge in Wiarton has been instrumental in seeing the Chantry expand to the waters of Colpoys. After dialogue with the Derby committee late last year, Bell stepped up by providing a weigh station at his business location, right on the highway, just outside of town. When asked about the benefit to anglers and area Bell said, “The derby is a great way to bring people into our area and of course to our doorstep as a business. We hope people will come here for the derby, and have their eyes opened to all that we have to offer, such as places to stay, sights to see, and great things to do outdoors. Hopefully, these people return to the area for more than just the derby.” Bell is right on the money, as the geographical areas for the Chantry derby expands, so do the options for off-the-water activities. More opportunity for families exist on top of what has been added for the anglers.

    The addition of Colpoys Bay to the Chantry waters means more protected areas for anglers to fish during the contest. West winds often blow up over the course of the derby, which can make Lake Huron a very unpleasant place to troll. A few years back the LHFC added the waters of Lions Head, Dyers, and Barrow Bay to the contest to allow anglers a refuge during poor weather on Huron. This move became very successful as anglers flocked to Lions Head to target the mature Chinooks that feed off the bluffs in late summer. West winds on the eastern side of the peninsula result in calm seas close to shore and small boat anglers reap the benefits. Now with Wiarton in play, the options are greater. A full service marina, multiple launching facilities, a cleaning station, restaurants, and accommodations all exist in Wiarton to cater to the anglers of the Chantry derby. Bob Bell’s Spirit Rock is not only a weigh station for the event, but it is also a fully stocked tackle shop for anglers in need.

    The 31st annual Chantry Chinook Classic kicks off on July 26 and runs to August 10 this year. Weigh stations can be found in Wiarton, Pike Bay, Saugeen Shores, and Kincardine. Special events continue to dot the agenda again this year with Ladies Day taking place on Sunday the 27th and again the following Sunday the 3rd of August. Seniors Days are Wednesday July 30th and Wednesday August 6th. Kids Day takes place on Saturday August 2nd at each weigh station as well as the Sauble River Marina and Lodge. A monster-sized fish fry is set to go on Saturday August 9th at 4pm at the Kincardine Harbor.

    In addition to fun-filled events, just like last year, the Chantry provides a wide array of prize categories for those looking to score with a big fish. Overall salmon and trout divisions are the main attraction (awarding cash for top fish), as well as largest daily fish at each weigh station, largest aggregate 5 salmon over the course of the derby and another category for largest 5 trout. The aggregate divisions are very attractive to those anglers who put their time in over the course of the derby, landing quality-sized fish but not quite leaderboard toppers. Once again, the leaderboard for the top 25 salmon will be in the sights of all entrants as they search the waters of Huron and Georgian Bay for a prize catch.

    Huron’s largest derby is just over a week away. Have you purchased your ticket yet? Remember that all proceeds from the Chantry Chinook Classic go directly back into the fishery through the hard work of the volunteers at the Lake Huron Fishing Club. Whether it be stocking the waters of Huron with over 100,000 salmon annually, or raising brown trout and steelhead, the LHFC is a driving force behind the great angling opportunities Huron has to offer. With the expansion of derby waters that much closer to major population centers such as Owen Sound, local anglers are sure to benefit from the new opportunities to get on the water. Good luck to all the anglers looking to score with a big salmon or trout during the 31st annual Chantry Chinook Classic . . . I will see you on the water.
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