The weather was just about perfect and the fish were definitely biting as 123 anglers took part in the 4th annual Garry Banford Memorial Fishing Derby. Fishing began just after midnight on May 3, with the final weigh-in at the Iroquois marina at 2 p.m.
The Pike and Pickerel Derby was organized by Bruce Mullin, with his wife Pam recording the vital stats. Fishermen had the opportunity to enjoy a hearty fish and chips, sausage and coleslaw dinner served up by Brian Dawley and Ronnie Baker and their helpers after a long day on the rivers and local creeks.
While a lot of fish stories were undoubtedly being exchanged at the dock, the fishermen, and this year, one fisherwoman, Heather Irvine, eagerly awaited final results as Bruce Mullin weighed each pike or walleye in.
Ernie Beckstead’s 13.95 pound pike came in first, with Tanner Hummel (9.10 lbs) second and Steve McMillan (8.97 lbs.) third.
Shawn Lapier took top honours with a 10.82 walleye, with Ron Baker’s 9.61 fish and Scott Cooke’s 9.39 walleye placing second and third.
The two first place winners each took home $500, while second place finishers each won $100. (Ron Baker turned his win back to the SDHS bursary fund.)
Cory Casselman had the Hidden Weight win, closest to 7.12 lbs pike.
The funds raised at the annual fishing derby go to support a bursary, in memory of Garry, at Seaway District High School.
Beckstead and Lapier shared some fishing tips.
“My secret?” Ernie said. “Live bait and Nash Creek in Morrisburg. My son Marc as my net man and wearing my lucky striped socks all day also contributed.”
“It’s all in the wrist action,” Shawn said. “You also have to have a good net man, and, for me, borrowed tackle works best.”
“I think this entire event is a wonderful tribute to Garry’s memory,” said Ann Banford, who took part in the derby along with several family members. “And I am proud that the money supports a bursary at the high school.”
She praised the hard work and dedication of Derby organizer, Bruce Mullin. “He did an outstanding job. And I also want to thank all the fishermen who supported us. We lucked out with the weather. Lots of friends came in to cook and help in any way: we didn’t have to ask anybody twice.
It was just a great day for everyone.”
“Any day with Garry was a great day,” added Danny McLaughlin who was helping barbecue.