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Derby wrap-up

16th annual Con Club walleye event by the numbers

Photo by Gene Pauszek Pictured, from left: Vinny and Russ Tenamore along with Scott Korzenski were the Saturday leaders in the 16th annual Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby with a total weight of 20.19 pounds and a two-day total of 38.32 pounds.

Now that the 16th annual Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby is in the books, there is an opportunity to share some behind-the-scenes information.

The state-of-the-art computerized scale/weight read-out screen owned and operated by Jim and Diane Steel has proven to be an asset at a number of the local walleye tournaments, including their own event which is coming up on Aug. 20-21.

As soon as the fish are weighed the information is displayed on the screen. Anglers can keep track of where their fish stand in the derby. The names of each team captain is available on spreadsheets with a report of how they did daily.

For instance on day one, 88 teams weighed in at least one fish. There were 12 teams that chose not to weigh in for various reasons. The total fish weight for the walleye weighed in on Friday was 1,222.95 pounds. The total amount of walleye weighed in was 257. Remember that there were more fish than that caught, but the anglers were allowed to bring only three fish to the scale each day. The average fish weight for those fish was 4.76 pounds.

On Saturday, the second day of the derby, 88 teams brought in at least one walleye for weigh-in. There were 519 walleye weighed over two days with a combined two-day total weight of 2,485.53 pounds. The average fish weight was 4.79 pounds. By Sunday, many of the anglers realize they are out of contention for the three-day total weight, especially if they previously weighed in smaller-sized walleye or chose not to weigh in any fish. Sunday the tournament ends at 1 p.m., which is a short day of fishing by five hours compared to Friday and Saturday.

Photo by Gene Pauszek Tournament Chairman Zen Olow is pictured with former two-time derby winner Herb Schultz as well as former derby champion and 16-year derby veteran Jim “Looney Tunes” Tunney. All three are fishermen who have spent their lives improving fishing opportunities for anglers on Lake Erie.

The three-day total of walleye weighed was 725 for a total weight of 3,469.88 pounds and volunteer Frank Solares handled every ounce. The average fish weight was 4.79 pounds.

Two local teams did well this year. Team No. 28 the Paul Port team, with Jim Schrantz and Dave Liberati, had the heaviest box of three walleye on Friday, as well as the heaviest fish of the day. On Saturday, they had another three-fish total that put them in the money and they ended up with two walleye being in the top 15 heaviest walleye of the event. Scrantz and Port have been lifetime fishing buddies and they have competed in all 16 of the Con Club events. Schrantz reminded me that years ago they were involved as being on the receiving end of a dramatic Lake Erie rescue when their small boat lost anchor while thy were fishing in the former hot-water discharge area by Niagara Mohawk in the dead of winter. Joe Vacanti owner operator of Joe’s Marina located on Lake Shore Drive (the former Stefan’s ) attempted to rescue them and in turn had to be rescued.

Port reported that they caught their fish all three days on a program that utilized dipsey divers set back about 150 to 200 feet. They also use jet divers instead of lead core line. The size 3 and 4 jets with the release mechanisms are very productive especially on a one way trolling course. They were fishing out of their 26 foot Baha cruiser about 3 miles from Barcelona and west of the Brocton Shoals. Their favorite lure was the old style renosky stick baits in black & silver and watermelon pattern.

One day, Port was wearing a lucky T-shirt from the former Con Club Beach Bash III. One of the reasons the Con Club Derby is so popular is that there are numerous ways to win money. Chairman Zen Olow commented that they give away 77 different cash/check prizes over the course of three days.

Have you ever watched the TV survival show Naked and Afraid? Team No. 43 leader John Ferdinand was neither during the weigh-in, but he was barefoot walking across the hot blacktop and gravel parking lot. On Sunday, he brought in three identical walleye that each weighed 5.88 pounds that won a special prize. Those are called “Cookie cutter fish” in fisherman lingo.

Saturday was a big day for team No. 73 led by Russ Tenamore, his son Vinny and Scott Korzenski. They were in the lead after two days and had some bad luck on Sunday, but still managed to come in the top-10 heaviest total weight category. Tenamore’s program involved fishing with the big turtle blade worm harnesses right out front of Dunkirk. Russ missed out on big money just a few years ago also.

So after a few days rest, Zen Olow will get back to planning for next year’s event. It is very likely they will expand the derby to allow more competitors. A price increase is possible, but that will allow for a larger prize structure. None of the fish went to waste. There was an intention of hosting a fish fry for the workers, etc., but not quite enough fish were donated. There is a plan for the future.

Boat trailer parking for 100 teams is a head scratcher, let alone even more teams in an expanded version. Good weather, good planning and good leadership, an they will “Get ‘er done!”

Again thanks go out to everyone who helped make this year’s event a huge success.

Next up is the Innovative Outdoor Walleye tournament with a Big Fish Friday on Aug. 20 and the Main Event on Saturday, Aug. 21. Today is the deadline to sign up. Call 481-5348, go to info@innovativeoutdoors.com or call 726-481-5348. Look for coverage in the OBSERVER.

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