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Boreal Community Media

Thunder Bay anglers look to hook the big one

Jul 16, 2019 06:45AM ● By Editor
Sam Rojik (left), Carson Wrigley, and Mike Wrigley, hold up their catch of the day during the Thunder Bay Salmon Association Salmon Derby on Sunday. Photo: Doug Diaczuk -

By Doug Diaczuk from - July 15, 2019

It might cost a bit of money and a whole lot of patience, but there’s just something about being out on the lake with family and friends that make for memorable moments, and some big cash prizes and bragging rights for netting the big one helps, too.

“I like getting out there early to watch the sun come up,” said Mike Wrigley. “We’ve been getting up at four in the morning all weekend.”

Wrigley, along with Carson and Sam Rojik, were among the more than 230 anglers taking part in the Thunder Bay Salmon Association annual Salmon Derby this past weekend.

On Sunday, the three anglers brought in a five-pound and a 3.25-pound salmon caught in Little Trout Bay for official weigh in.

“It was cold in the big part, but in the bay it wasn’t that cold,” Carson said.

“We were in the derby a few years ago but we decided to go back in it and taking Carson with us,” Rojik said. “It’s fun every year.”

Ken Mosley, director of the Thunder Bay Salmon Association, said 45 salmon were caught on Friday, the first day of the derby, and another 75 on day two.

The top fish this weekend was caught by Kevin Phillips of Nipigon, Ont. and it weighed in at 12.6-pounds, which Mosley said is average when it comes to the top fish.

“We’ve had first place up to 20 pounds and first place up to nine pounds,” he said.

This year also saw a much larger prize up for grabs, with the prize money doubled for first place. Phillips’ 12-pound salmon netted him $3,500 cash, a 14-foot Prince Craft boat, and a Garmin 6 chart plotter.

“I think it’s a huge fishing community,” Mosley said. “Just look at the boats coming out of the board launch right now. We usually get between 200 and 300 participants every year.”

And while all the anglers were out enjoying the beautiful weekend weather and hoping to hook that big one, the Salmon Association depends on the derby to keep the salmon population in Lake Superior strong.

“There’s been a salmon fishery here for years and years,” Mosley said. “The salmon association over its history has released more than one million salmon in Lake Superior. We released 100,000 this year alone.”

“Our hatchery is 100 per cent volunteer based and non-profit,” Mosley continued. “So running the derbies like this, all the money goes back to running the hatchery. It costs $35,000 to $40,000 a year just to keep the lights on and run the hatchery. So we rely on donations and support form the community to keep the hatchery.”

And those anglers who were out on the water are happy to be supporting the salmon fishery because it means more opportunities to get out on the lake, even if there are some costs that come with it.

“Lots of time and gas money and lots of patience,” Wrigley said.

“But we’ll be back next year for sure,” Rojik added.

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