Annual Sipekne’katik Striped bass derby a success

Community Online First

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by Keith Julian.

Photos by Pat Healey – The Weekly Press

STEWIACKE: Rain the evening before may have dampened the grounds and river banks of the Stewiacke River but it certainly did not dampen the spirits of 332 registered fishers on Saturday, May 11.

The opening cast was given by Chief Bob Gloade Millbrook First Nation, DFO officers, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group, Indian Brook RCMP, Striped Bass Research Team and Youth.

The Derby is a non-profit event with 3 primary goals: 1) Building healthy community relationships 2) Educating and raising awareness of the Striped Bass species 3) Promoting affordable family outdoor living, physical activity and wellness. The Derby is the tool used to help achieve our three goals.

It was FREE to enter and with the help of many local and surrounding area sponsors there was amazing prizes to be won including a Mother’s Day basket, winner take all draw. This year’s winner take-all was $1,020. Also available was approximately 120 random draw prizes to be won.

Anglers of all ages rushed to the river banks early to register in one of the three age categories available, 10 and under, 11- 17 years and 18 and over.

The morning started out slow but quickly picked up as 126 Bass, 22 Eels and one Tom Cod were caught, recorded and released back into the river during the event. Members from the Striped Bass Research (SBRT) were heavily involved with catches through-out the day. Continuously on standby to quickly move in and collect scale samples and even tag some of the Bass for future scientific research.

SBRT tagged 41 of the 126 Bass caught for scientific purposes where tracking and the location of catch are recorded for future research.

Taken home the Grand prize for the 10 and under division was Manson Pennel with a combined two fish total of 47” winning a 16-foot swimming pool. 1st longest Bass was Honour Stephens with 25 ½ “ winning a Kayak. 11-17 age category winner with 1st longest Bass was Harlem Syliboy with 23” winning a paddle board. Grand prize winner in the combined ages 11-17 and 18 and over was Victor Christmas with a combined total of top 3 Bass was 81” winning a John boat, E-motor, life vests, ores and marine battery. 1st place longest Bass for the 18 and over was Angela Slaunwhite with 29 ¾ “ winning a two person kayak.

I’m very pleased with this year’s attendance considering the heavy rain we had the Friday night and cooler temperatures. It’s a good feeling seeing kids having fun outdoors smiling ear to ear and meeting new friends. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves based on the many smiles and conversations with one another along the banks.

Booths were setup for information sharing and educational displays. Alanna Slyiboy and her team from Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) had interactive games to help promote Waste Diversion, Pollinator Project, Aquatic’s and Species at Risk. Garbage from the derby was brought to the MCG waste diversion tent to be properly sorted and bagged promoting proper waste, composting, sorting and recycling of house hold waste. Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing Supply and Bender Over Bait and Tackle had all the gear readily available for angler’s.

Hnatiuk’s received a plaque from the Sipekne’katik Bass Derby in memory of the late Jim Hnatiuk’s acknowledging his commitment in preserving the environment, animals and support of the derby.

Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO) had a display of instruments and equipment used in the line of daily work.

With the goals of the derby in mind officers engaged with anglers at the booth and up and down the banks given angler’s a chance to meet one-on-one or as a group to discuss fisheries related questions or concerns in a positive atmosphere.

Members from the Indian Brook and Bible Hill RCMP detachments took part in the event assisting volunteers and vendor’s setup and meeting anglers throughout the day.

Overall the derby was a success and an enjoyable day. Big Thank-You to all our volunteers and sponsor that help make our event possible.

We’re excited and planning for next year’s 10th annual event with the additions of some categories, pool options and side events. Next year’s Derby will be in May again.