13th Annual Walleye Derby to start Friday

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek: Pictured are Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby Committee members. From left, in front: Sue Buck, Susan Bell, Jackie Edwards, Diane Steel and Micki Feeney. In the back row: Mike Stanton, Alicia Munch, Cindy Zolnoske, Don Salemi, Zen Olow, Don Merckel and Jim Steel.

The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club would like to welcome all the participants of the 13th Annual Walleye Derby. The Captain’s meeting took place at the Con Club Thursday evening, with 100 team captains and/or their representatives in attendance. Derby Chairman Zen Olow, who once again did an outstanding job of organizing this year’s event, went over the rules and greeted the crowd with a reminder — that states in the rules — that it is up to the individuals in the team whether or not they choose to fish each day from Friday until Sunday.

The entry fee for this event is $200 per team. Teams can consist of a minimum of two persons and a maximum of four. However, no more than three team members can fish at one time. That fourth person is convenient if you need a substitute.

The main topic of discussion during the meeting was the weather. With thunder approaching in the distance on Thursday evening, each team is well aware that the opportunity to fish each or any of the three days may be brief.

The highlights of the derby state that it begins on Friday, Aug. 4 at 6 a.m. and concludes on Sunday, Aug. 6. New for 2017 is the addition of a new weigh-in station/program graciously donated by Jim and Diane Steel of Innovative Outdoors. This system is used during its tournament later in August and also utilized by the Sunset Bay Shoot Out, which will add to the integrity of the Con Club event.

The Con Club derby is unique by design and takes place over the period of three days. Anglers can weigh their walleye (only) at the weigh-in station located at the Con Club from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a short day so the weigh-in station is open from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. sharp!

Contestants are allowed to start fishing for Saturday and Sunday, after the weigh-in station closes on Friday and Saturday. The objective of the Con Club Walleye Derby is to catch the largest walleye during the three days. There is a prize awarded for the largest three walleye caught each day. Contestants are allowed to weigh-in a maximum of three walleye daily. The largest of the three needs to have a supplied zip tie attached to its jaw.

That fish will be weighed first, then any additional walleye will be added to the “box” for a potential three fish total. Catching any fish, let alone three walleye daily, is never guaranteed. There is a prize structure for the teams that weigh in the heaviest accumulation of nine walleye over the three-day time frame. In addition the Con Club event pays out prizes for the heaviest 15 walleye caught during the three-day event.

There are numerous chances to win prize money. This year, the Lake Erie Fishery provides a unique challenge to the fishermen. Lake Erie is experiencing a lake-wide abundance of smaller sized walleye in the 12- to 17-inch range as a result of several back to back successful/plentiful walleye hatches. Anglers have been reporting hooking up with large numbers of walleye, even in deep water offshore, but these fish are in the one-to-two pound range.

Traditionally, walleye that win this contest weigh close to 10 pounds or more, and the total box weight for three days is over 60 pounds.

The Con Club event is for the New York waters of Lake Erie only. State regulations dictate that a legal length for walleye is a minimum of 15 inches in length. Walleye that measure 15 inches at 7 a.m. can shrink in size later in the day — it happens. In addition, each day has a sponsor: Ultimate Outdoors of WNY is the Friday sponsor, Three D Worm harnesses and Challenger Lures are the sponsor on Saturday and Bill’s Hooks is the Sunday sponsor. In addition, gold sponsors who helped to make this year’s event possible are: Innovative Outdoors, Walmart Dunkirk-Fredonia, Cannon Daiwa, Jim Nichols Home Town Service, Bill’s Hooks, Certo Brothers Distributing Co., Ultimate Outdoors of WNY, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, DFT Communications, 3D Fishing-Challenger Lures and the city of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas. Silver sponsors are: Holiday Harbor/Chadwick Bay marina, Barcelona HarborPier, Reef Runner tackle co, Lake Shore Savings, McDonalds Fredonia, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, O’Mallia liquor Store, Merritt Estate Winery, Inc. Upper Crust Bake House, County Fair Dunkirk, XOAR Communications, Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill and Liberty Vineyards & Winery. Weather permitting, the weigh-ins will take place outdoors in the lower parking lot at the Con Club located on Mullet Street. Take Route 5 west past the city of Dunkirk pier, turn north at the Country Fair store. Food and beverages will be available for sale as well as T-shirts. The public is invited to attend and cheer on their favorite team each day.


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