First up on the derby calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, set for August 1-16, 2015. Open waters include the area in Lake Ontario from the Niagara River to the Genesee River, as well as the tributaries. There is a weigh station in Niagara County out of Olcott � The Slippery Sinker. You can also register at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Species include salmon, lake trout, brown trout and rainbow/steelhead trout. For more information call 585-589-9881 or visit their website at rotaryfishingderby.com.
Before the smoke even settles from the first derby of the month, the big one � the Lake Ontario Counties Fall Trout and Salmon Derby � celebrates the return of the king salmon with its 18-day contest August 21-September 7. Grand Prize for the biggest salmon is $25,000 along with another $50,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs for the top 20 fish catchers in the brown trout and rainbow/steelhead categories. Weigh stations can be found all along the lake, from Lewiston to Henderson Harbor. Check out their website at loc.org to find out the list of weigh stations and registration points � or register online. While more than 7,000 fishermen register for this one every year, the odds of winning the big prize are actually pretty good when compared with things like the state lottery. Every year, winners include people who have never fished before, people who have never fished the derby before and people who have never caught a salmon and trout in their lives. If you are going to be out fishing in Lake Ontario, you better be in the LOC Derby.
Coinciding with the Fall LOC Derby is a local favorite that has been going for 39 years � the Greater Niagara �Fall Classic� Derby � 2015: A Fish Odyssey set for August 22-30, 2015. In what started out as the Niagara County Fishing Derby, this competition is now opened to three counties (Niagara, Erie and Orleans) in an attempt to encourage more involvement in this family-oriented event. With a big focus on the Junior Division, it will give the kids more opportunity to wet a line because of the fact that they are out of school.
Categories include bass, salmon, walleye, trout and carp. Charter captains and mates are now exempt from registering in an effort to encourage their customers into signing up � unless those captains and mates want to enter fish themselves. While most everything else is the same, there are a few new twists that could land you a few extra dollars. First, a daily $100 prize for the biggest salmon caught each day � taking a page out of the LOC event � is being offered August 22-29. Second, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) is back again with a special $500 cash prize for the largest salmon caught by a LOTSA member while competing in the derby. In addition to that, the witness (which also has to be a LOTSA member) will also receive a check for $200. When you register for the Fish Odyssey, toss in another $10 for your LOTSA membership and you�ll be considered registered in that fine organization. You can also register online at lotsa.org.
For the kids 15 years and under, categories will be salmon, trout, bass, walleye, carp and panfish. Entry fee will stay the same at $20 for the adults; free for the kids. A one day pass will also be available for $10. It doesn�t get any easier than that. Kids can register online at fishodyssey.net. The adults can, too!
Changes to the Odyssey website should be in place very soon thanks to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors. Check out www.fishodyssey.net regularly. Registrations should be out by Aug. 1 wherever LOC registrations are available in Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.
Every year the derby remembers someone we lost previously that meant a lot to the fishery and this year it�s Ken Sprenger of North Tonawanda who passed on in 2014. He was on the original Derby Board, Niagara County Fisheries Board and an outdoor writer in area papers. We were sad to see Ken go, but his memory will live on through the Fish Odyssey this year. Once again, The Primate Sanctuary (thanks to Carmen and Christie Presti) will be donating a new bike that will be drawn at the awards ceremony for every kid that�s registered in the fun contest. Get those kids out fishing!!