• Salmon get jump on spawning run

    The pleas for rain from farmers, gardeners, and Grey Bruce residents were finally answered late last week as the skies opened up and the down pours began. Almost immediately, local yards in Owen Sound appeared to green up and the nearly dry creeks along Owen Sound Bay began to flow. Running water, a vital element, began to seep into the stream environments. None of this could come too soon; crops were in danger and the extending drought-like conditions were beginning to take a toll on our local ecosystem.

    The heavy rainfall over the past few days has also sent some Lake Huron and Georgian Bay Chinook salmon on their spawning migration journey. I stopped by Denny’s Dam on the Saugeen as well as the Owen Sound Mill Dam this week, and was surprised to see some early running salmon already climbing the fish ladders. These fish obviously sensed the influx of river water from out in the lake and packed their bags for the upriver sections where they will spawn and then die in the coming months. The instincts of these fish never cease to surprise me. They knew the water levels were incredibly low and literally jumped at the opportunity to begin their journeys once the rains began to fall. Over the next two months, the mass spawning run will take place on area tributaries and provide interested spectators the opportunity to view the largest members of the salmon family as they jump fish ladders and waterfalls throughout Grey and Bruce.

    Salmon Spectacular

    While on the topic of salmon, it is important to note that Owen Sound’s premier event will once again take place on the waters of Owen Sound Bay. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Sydenham Sportsman’s Association’s flag ship fishing event. The “derby” as most residents have come to know it, has been monumental in terms of growth over the past two and a half decades. Originally created to generate revenue to support the costs of raising hatchery fish and stocking the waters of Georgian Bay, the Spectacular has become an annual event that draws the attention of local residents and visitors from all across the province and beyond. Proceeds from the derby still go back into the Sydenham Sportsman’s activities such as fish stocking and conservation efforts throughout the area. Anglers who have been returning to the event year after year tout the fishing, attractive prize packages, and festival atmosphere provided by the large derby tent and entertainment.

    The 2012 Salmon Spectacular kicks off on August 24th and wraps up September 2nd this year. The Grand Prize package for largest overall salmon is a G3 17ft boat with a 115hp Yamaha outboard, rigged with Scotty Downriggers and a custom trailer. The Grand Prize trout winner will receive a 14ft G3 boat, Yamaha outboard, Scotty Downriggers and trailer. Both overall prize winners will also receive a fiberglass replica of their winning catches. These attractive Grand Prize packages are just the icing on the cake, as the Spectacular awards 10 prize packages each day for the top 10 daily salmon entered, as well as packages for the largest 5 trout each day.

    The entertainment under the derby tent is sure to continue to please those in attendance again this year. Each day of the derby is celebrated with numerous themes such as Kid’s Day, Friday Fishermen’s Evenings, Sun-Times Day (seniors afternoon), Ladies Afternoon and the two massive Fish Fries. Music guests at the event have always been a major draw and this year the acts performing will continue to please the ears of derby goers. Some of the acts in the evening lineups are as follows: Peter Irwin’s “Tribute to Elvis”, Hard Workin Men, Freddy Vette and the Flames, Shania Twin, The Beckett Family, Settler’s Creek, Wil Chalmers, Keep the Faith, The Geoff Stevens band, Steve Dickinson, Bruce Worthington, Roy LeBlanc, and Late Nite Radio.

    On August 9th, I spent an evening on the water with SSA President Mike Prevost during the media day celebrations for the Salmon Spectacular. Prevost and I were some of the few who ventured out into Owen Sound Bay for the scheduled fishing portion of the event. We braved some heavy rain and large waves but managed to box a couple salmon for our troubles and do battle with a few that got away. We discussed the derby, the club, the history of the event and the changing ecosystem which as brought smaller and fewer salmon to the scales over the past 25 years. Our conversation ended with the idea that salmon still return to Owen Sound in catchable numbers, the anglers follow, and the derby continues to thrive off the support of valued sponsors and participants. I have no doubt that this year’s 25th anniversary of the Salmon Spectacular will be a success and prove, once again, to be a huge draw in terms of tourism for the City of Owen Sound. Here is to your luck in catching the big one, I am sure I will be trying every chance I get!

    Chantry Results
    August 12th marked the final day of the Lake Huron Fishing Club’s Chantry Chinook Classic. The Chantry hit a benchmark in entries this season and the overall trout entries were surpassed in record numbers. I spent plenty of time on the waters of Huron during the event and was astonished by the number of rainbow trout that were caught. The Chantry website indicates 675 trout were weighed in during the event, as well as 497 salmon. A large portion of the entered trout were steelhead raised in joint by the LHFC and Ontario Steelheaders; another example of how this stocking program on the Saugeen River has demonstrated overwhelming success. Observations from those in the derby suggest that the overall condition of Chinook salmon was better than some of the previous years, indicating that numbers of salmon in Huron may be balancing out with the prey base. Final Results area as follows:

    1. 18.83 lb Salmon -- Chinook caught by Andy Varga from Mar
    2. 17.73 lb Salmon -- Chinook caught by Keith Miller from Owen Sound
    3. 17.47 lb Salmon -- Chinook caught by David Bedford from Stratford
    4. 17.32 lb Salmon -- Chinook caught by Sean Dalcourt from Kincardine
    5. 17.06 lb Salmon -- Chinook caught by Bob Brydges from Guelph

    1. 18.19 lb Trout – Lake Trout caught by Jeff Wilson from Wiarton
    2. 16.01 lb Trout -- Lake Trout caught by Corey McCrae from Kincardine
    3. 14.69 lb Trout -- Lake Trout caught by Tom Watson from Kincardine
    4. 13.65 lb Trout -- Brown Trout caught by Greg Barnard from Ingersoll
    5. 13.06 lb Trout -- Lake Trout caught by Corey Engler from Wellesley

    Andy Varga took home $14, 000 in cash for his winning salmon caught during the derby. Wiarton resident Jeff Wilson took home $6000 for his whopper Lake Trout. Largest rainbow trout went to Doug Legg from Komoka with a steelhead that topped out at 11.58lbs. Scott MacDonald from Port Elgin won the junior salmon category with a 15.54lb Chinook. Keith Miller of Owen Sound took home the honors of the largest 5 salmon aggregate weight during the event with 59.58lbs and an extra $1000 to add to his second place finish in the salmon division. Harry Van Moorsel of Mitchell plugged away to take the aggregate trout weight with 5 fish topping the scales at 48.79lbs and an extra $500 to add to his winnings. Congrats anglers!
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