THUNDER BAY – Summer in Thunder Bay is fishing season and the Kam River Fighting Walleye are hoping to hook a few hundred people into giving their fundraising effort a shot.
The Superior International Junior Hockey League team plans to hold the first annual socially distant Walleye Fishing Fest on July 10.
Abigail Dzuba, sales and marketing manager for the hockey club, said team officials were looking for a unique way to raise money, and given the outdoor nature of the Thunder Bay area, not to mention the team’s nickname, a fishing derby was a bit of a no-brainer.
“We came up with this idea a couple of months ago. Originally we had a plan to do a fish derby in the first place, but with COVID and everything, we wondered how we were going to make this event guaranteed,” Dzuba said.
“We decided to do it as a virtual event, so it’s done through an app.”
Participants must download the FirstDonkey app to a mobile device, and rather than measuring their best catch in person, they can do it themselves using an approved measuring board. Each submission must include two photographs, one of the participant holding the fish, the second of the same fish on the measuring board, with a closed mouth and pinched tail.
It’s also a catch-and-release event.
Dzuba said holding it virtually means anglers can essentially fish just about wherever they’d like in the region.
“They can cast their line on the Kam River or bring their boat to their favourite fishing spot and this app allows you to do that. Right now our boundaries are any body of water within Fisheries Management Zone 6, with a few exceptions, obviously,” Dzuba said.
The presenting sponsor of the event is the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company, which is providing the grand prize, a weekend fly-in fishing trip to Anderson’s Lodge in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
“I think the package is usually around $2,500 to $3,000.”
Money will also be raised to help out a worthy local cause, she added.
“We’re having a live auction, where 100 per cent of the proceeds are going to the Staal Foundation Open,” Dzuba said.
Started by the hockey-playing brothers and their families, the charity raises money for children with cancer.
Registration is $50 for adult-division prize qualification, while those younger than 16 may enter for free, if they are fishing alongside a registered adult. Youth can also register for the adult prizes, but must pay the $50 fee.
FishDonkey will post live leaderboards throughout the day of the derby. The app will work without Internet, but participants must have Internet at some point during the competition, which runs from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., in order to upload the photos, which much be taken using the FishDonkey app.
Officials at FishDonkey will judge the entries to determine if they’re valid.
There will be prizes for the top three walleye and the top three bass in the adult category and the top five walleye or bass in the youth category.
Registration for the event can be done through the app, with early bird pricing in effect until May 31. Prices will increase on June 1.