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'Last cast' results in $10,000 (and change) derby payday

Timing is everything. Whether it’s a first cast (or troll) into a new area or that infamous “one more cast” with the hopes of catching that trophy fish. For Sandra Brown of Clearfield, Pa., who was fishing with her husband Ed and friend Joe Yaeger of East Amherst, it was a different kind of timing that was coming into play -- and they were fishing in three contests at the same time.

“We were fishing in the Curt Meddaugh Memorial 3-Fish Tournament with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) on July 21,” said Brown at the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Summer Trout and Salmon Derby Awards Ceremony in Sodus Point last Sunday. “Because we were fishing on the Niagara Bar and the weigh in for the club contest had to be by 3 p.m. in Olcott, we planned on pulling rods by 1 p.m.”

Just prior to packing it in, Yaeger pulled their best rod for the day and added some Kishel’s Fish Scent to a white Dreamweaver Spin Doctor (with some added tape from Ed) and a purple Mirage A-Tom-Mik fly because it hadn’t had a hit for 90 minutes – putting it back down at the 60-foot mark in 52-degree water.

Fishing off Yaeger’s 22-foot Grady White named Salmonella, the crew slowly started to pull rods and put them away. One rod was left, like a “last cast” effort – the rod that had been their best stick all morning. They didn’t want the day to end just yet and almost on cue the reel started screaming. “Fish On!” Twenty minutes later, Sandra hauled in a 32-pound, 4-ounce king salmon.

They made it back in time for the LOTSA weigh in and also weighed their catch at the Slippery Sinker to take over the lead for the LOC Derby grand prize. The fish would hold up for the $10,000 grand prize and a $1,000 weekly big fish prize in the lakewide contest. As a member of LOTSA, she won an extra $500 for the largest salmon caught by a member.

For the LOTSA contest, they placed fourth in the Meddaugh competition but the team did win the 3-2-3 (best three fish over two days of fishing, paying out the top three total weights). Yes, timing is everything.

Kristin Wilson of Rockstream.

First place in the salmon division was a 31-pound, 10-ounce king hauled in by Kristin Wilson of Rockstream. She was fishing out of Point Breeze with Chris Bernal of Watkins Glen (aboard his 22-foot Grady White named “Smokin’ Reels”), Ryan Angle of Montour Falls and his sister Renee Angle of Watkins Glen. They were trolling a 300-foot copper rod set-up over 175-feet of water with a DW nuke spin doctor and an A-Tom-Mik TG fly. At 8 a.m., the king salmon hit. It was 45 minutes before Wilson pulled the fish to the back of the boat – only to have Bernal miss it with the net the first time. He made no mistake the second time and once they had it on board, they motored into Narby’s Superette and Tackle to take over the grand prize lead at the time … for three days.

First place in the Lake Trout Division was no stranger to the winner’s circle for these annual contests. Steve Klejdys of North Tonawanda did it again, this time with a 23-pound, 13-ounce fish from the Niagara Bar. “I was fishing in 108 feet of water on the bottom with my homemade spoon when the laker hit,” said Klejdys. “It stripped out over 500 feet of line so I knew I had a good one.” He was fishing with his dad, Ed, who also had a fish on the leaderboard, a 29-pound, 8-ounce salmon that placed third overall in the division. He caught it while he was fishing for lake trout on the Bar.

Dan Robinson of LeRoy shows off the Olcott steelhead caught by his brother, Adam of Portland, Ore.

The timing was good for Adam Robinson of Portland, Ore., too. He was in New York visiting with his girlfriend Kari Young of Portland, his brother Dan from LeRoy and his dad, Dick who is living in Greenville, S.C.. They decided to take an afternoon trip out of Olcott with Capt. Vince Pierleoni and Thrillseeker II. He didn’t disappoint. In a little over two hours they caught a dozen fish including nine salmon and a 17-pound, 4-ounce winning steelhead that was a personal best. It was also the first time they fished in the derby. The lunker hit a chartreuse Dreamweaver Signature Series spoon 95 feet down over 200 feet of water.

In the brown trout division, Joey Guernsey of McGraw caught the $1,000 winner while fishing with Capt. Rich Peaslee of Yankee One and Eric Clark of Binghamton out of Fair Haven. “I wanted to fish for browns,” said Guernsey, who usually fishes in the derbies. “We were fishing all spoons in 100 feet of water when the DW Super Slim “Moon Cricket” went off. I ended up with the brown trout of a lifetime.”  Capt. Peaslee had another fish on the board, too – the second-place salmon that weighed in at 30 pounds, 13 ounces.

Fishing has been great on Lake Ontario this year, as the results of this contest show. Salmon fishing has been outstanding, which should be perfect timing for the next LOC event, focusing on the return of the king salmon – Aug. 18 to Sept. 4. With $25,000 up for grabs for the grand prize salmon, and a total of over $66,000 in cash, this year’s competition should be a good one. Remember, you have to be in it to win it.

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