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Opening of walleye season is a family tradition

By Gail Paquette

Mike Frost hasn’t missed the annual walleye fishing derby in 30 years.

Every year he makes the 4,883-km trek across Canada from Carmacks, Yukon, to join family and friends and fish the Bay of Quinte, where he grew up.

“I arrived early Friday got into my boat and waited for the season to open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.” said Frost.

Frost left behind two feet of snow in the Yukon for the balmy plus 20 degree temperatures all weekend.

Methods have changed and gear has become more sophisticated over the 32 years the Kiwanis Walleye Fishing Derby has taken place but for many it is just for the love of it all.

Cathy Haggarty of Cobourg couldn’t think of a better place to be.

“I’ve been coming to this derby since 1989. The prizes are great but the last few years I have come just to enjoy getting away for the weekend. It is so tranquil.” said Haggarty.

Over $250,000 in cash and prizes could be won including Lund fishing boats, tackle, rods, reels and trips.  Youth prizes included bikes, helmets and tickets to next year’s derby.

The Kiwanis also tagged and released 150 fish in different locations around the bay offering $1000 for each caught.

“One of the greatest things about this derby besides this bay being the best walleye fishing in the world is that all money raised goes into the community.” said organizer Remco DeGooyer .

Centennial Park in Trenton was home to hundreds who set up camp Friday and stayed for the weekend.

“Where else for $35 can you get a campsite, boat docking, electricity and a really cool hat,” said Trenton resident Steve Whiteford, who has been attending the derby for 21 years.

” We picked our spot two weeks ago and brought the trailer down to reserve it.”

The derby officially opens the beginning of walleye season on the Bay of Quinte the first weekend in May every year.