Better than expected turnout for re-born Winni Derby

LACONIA — The 34th Winni Derby drew a little more than 1,000 participants – short of a record for the late spring landlocked salmon and trout fishing derby but well above the modest expectations of the Daniel Webster Council of Boy Scouts, hosting the event for the first time.

"It was fantastic, we were very pleased with the turnout," said John Rainville, development director for the Daniel Webster Council. He said that the turnout was a "pleasant surprise," especially considering that the derby wasn't held at all last year.

The Winni Derby was founded by Rick Davis, a lifelong Moultonborough resident, business owner and sportsman. Davis ran the derby until shortly before his death in 2011. The Laconia Rotary Club took over the derby and operated it through 2015, but was unable to put on the event in 2016.

Leslie Sturgeon, Davis' daughter, said that her mother, Dianne Davis, was "devastated" to hear that the derby wouldn't be held last year. Dianne, who passed away about a year ago, was as much a part of the derby as her husband was, according to Sturgeon, even though she didn't always get the credit.

"Dad was the face of the Winni Derby, mom was the backbone. It very much was a family effort," Sturgeon said. "To see the event continue in very capable hands makes my family very, very happy."

She said that her father, who loved how fishing could bring friends and family together, was especially supportive of efforts to introduce the sport to children. With that in mind, she said, "The Boy Scouts are the perfect organization to be working with the derby now."

The Scouts added a new element to the derby this year, a Friday night expo at the Merrill Fay Arena in Laconia. The event offered food, live entertainment, exhibitors and a chance for derby participants to socialize. Rainville said that about a third of the overall participants came to the expo, and he expects to continue the event as a signature part of the Winni Derby for years to come.

Proceeds from the event will benefit scouting activities across the state, such as recruitment and training events for volunteers, and by keeping costs low for scouts attending summer camps. Locally, the Griswold Scout Reserve, which stretches across parts of Gilford, Gilmanton and Alton, serves about 2,500 scouts per year, who come for a week at a time.

Rainville said the Scouts are happy to carry on the Winni Derby tradition.

"We're very encouraged that the community embraced it coming back, and we're looking forward to continuing it in the future," he said.


Derby winners

First place in the adult Salmon Division, winning a Tracker Pro Guide fishing boat, with a 4.58-pound salmon, was Ed Dingman Jr. of Chesterfield, N.H.

First place in the Lake Trout Division, winning a Polaris Sportsman ATV, with a 4.56-pound lake trout, was Allan Beauvais of Auburn, Maine.

First place in the Women's Division, winning a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card, with a 3.56-pound salmon, was Jennifer Zdon of Hillsboro, N.H.

First place in the Junior Division, winning a $1,000 A.J.'s Bait & Tackle fishing package, with a 4.20-pound salmon, was Connor Glowa of Glenburn, Maine.

Drilling 2 wells to provide Robbie Mills fields with watger would cost $47,000

Possible solution to keep Robbie Mills Field watered

LACONIA — A potential solution has emerged to a water-supply problem for Robbie Mills Field, home to the Laconia Muskrats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
The city has been looking for a way to restore water service to the field at 15 Eastman Road, which depended on a water tower that is part of the former Laconia State School campus.. A water main servicing that tower failed a few weeks ago.
Rather than make expensive repairs, the state, which is under no obligation to provide water to the city's field, opted to tie into a water main on Route 106. That roadway is close to the state's property but a good distance from the ball field.
City Manager Scott Myers has been investigating ways to bring water back to the field, which would turn brown over the summer without irrigation. Also, bathroom facilities would not be operational and would have to be replaced with portable potties.
He has prepared a presentation for the Monday night's City Council meeting with a possible solution. Workers could dig two wells at a total cost of $47,000 to remedy the problem, presuming the city would be able to store the water in the state's tank.
The alternative would be to run a one-half mile trenched, temporary water line to Route 106. That would cost $97,000.
The city has a contingency fund that can be used to pay for unexpected repair projects.

The Robbie Mills Sports Complex land is owned by the State of N.H. and was leased to the city for 99 years at nominal cost.

Brisk wind produces 'salmon chop' on day 1 of Winni Derby

LACONIA — There was a "salmon chop" blowing across Lake Winnipesaukee Friday morning as hundreds of anglers took the water for the 34th annual Winni Derby.
"The wind is a good thing for fishermen. It makes for better action as long as it's not blowing too hard," said John Rainville, development officer for the Daniel Webster Council Boy Scouts of America, who have partnered with the Laconia Rotary Club to bring the popular spring salmon and lake trout tournament back after a year's hiatus.

Rainville said that as of Friday morning some 975 fishermen had signed up for the derby, which runs through Sunday, and that the good weather predicted for the weekend is likely to push the total to well over a thousand.

Among those scoring early successes were Connor Glowa of Glenburn, Maine, 14, who landed a 4.20 pound, 23.7675 inch salmon Friday morning that put him in the lead in the junior division. It was in fact, the largest salmon landed as of 11 Friday morning. The second largest weighed in at 4.16 pounds at the Wolfeboro weigh-in station.
Fishing the same boat with Glowa was Bruce Davis of Milford, Maine, who landed a 4-pound, 23.375 inch long salmon. The boat was piloted by Joe Glowa, who said he's been taking part in the Winni Derby for 15 years and that he and others fishing with him have won at least 10 prizes during that time.

This year's derby introduced new elements to the tournament, including a women's division and a Friday evening social and expo at the Merrill Fay Arena, where daily prizes are awarded and which will be site of the awarding of grand prizes Sunday at 1 p.m.

This year's tournament also includes a return to material prizes. First place in the salmon division wins a 16-foot 2017 Tracker Pro Guide fishing boat with a Mercury 75 horsepower motor and custom trailer. First place in the lake trout division wins a 2017 Polaris Sportsman 450 ATV. First place in the junior division wins a $1,000 fishing package from A.J.'s Bait & Tackle in Meredith. First place in the women's division wins a $1,000 gift card package from various retailers, including Bass Pro Shops. Runner up prizes include Lowrance touchscreen fish finders/chartplotters.

The derby, which in recent years has awarded nearly $50,000 in cash prizes, was started in 1983 by the late Rick Davis and was originally conceived of as a way to reduce the population of undersized salmon in Lake Winnipesaukee. Over the years it appeared to have achieved its goal and attracted as many 2,800 entries in 2001. Two years later, the average size of the salmon landed in the derby was over six pounds, but by 2009 it had dropped to just over four pounds.
The derby was canceled by Davis in 2010 as a way of reducing the pressure on the lake's salmon population after a 2009 fall survey showed them smaller than in recent years, with nearly a third of the salmon suffering from hook wounds caused by catch-and-release fishing.

The Laconia Rotary Club, at that time led by Diane LaBrie, took over sponsorship in 2011, and within a few years changed the awards to cash rather than fishing boats, for the major categories, which included landlocked salmon, lake trout and a junior division.
Participation in the derby has dropped from the 2,800 level of 16 years ago to 1,100 in 2015, a decline from the 1,300 in 2014.


Connor Glowa of Glenburn, Maine, 14, landed a 4.20 pound, 23.7675 inch salmon from Lake Winnipesaukee Friday morning, is shown with Bruce Davis of Milford, Maine, who landed a 4-pound, 23.375 inch long salmon. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)