LACONIA — Clyde LeMay knew he had a good catch on the opening day of the Winni Derby when he pulled in a 4.14 pound salmon in the Broads section of Lake Winnipesaukee, near Welch Island.
''It was 8:30 Friday morning and we brought it right into the weigh station around nine o'clock,'' says LeMay, who has been fishing in the derby for 25 years, the last 14 with his son Spencer, who was in the boat with him. They live in Wilder, Vermont.
Neither father nor son has ever landed anything in the derby which won a prize and have had many big fish get away from them at the last minute.
But it turned out to be their year as the catch, one of the very first on the leader board, held up throughout the weekend to win the $12,000 first place prize, by just .04 of a pound over Paul Bilotta of Foxboro, Mass..
LeMay said that he wasn't taking any chances and continued to fish throughout the weekend, hoping for an ever larger catch and nearly landing a salmon on Sunday morning which he thinks might have been bigger than his winning fish.
LeMay works at Bond Optics in Lebanon and noted that he and his son were fishing out a 14-foot Sea Nymph boat, which he says was one of the smaller ones on the lake over the weekend, and that they'll replace with a boat at least 16 feet long in next year's derby.
''I was nerve wracking waiting all weekend to see if I'd win,'' says LeMay, who used live smelt for bait and says that he and his son have always had better luck with live bait.
LeMay had to wait it out to see if he'd won, but for the winner of the Lake Trout division, Scott Roth of Meredith, it was a question of whether he'd make it to the weigh-in station before the derby ended.
Roth landed a 7.28 pound Lake Trout at 11:45 a.m. Sunday and just made it to the derby weigh-in station at Weirs Beach before the clock struck noon, which would more or less have turned his prize winning fish into a pumpkin instead of the $5,000 cash prize that he won.
Winning a $3,000 prize for the largest salmon caught in the Junior Division was Hunter Durant, 9, of Manchester, who landed a 3.78-pounder.
Winner of the Rick Davis Sportsmanship Award for the hitting closest to the average weight salmon was Dwayne Thibeault of Osteen, Florida, who landed a 3.12 pound salmon.
The three-day derby attracted 1,100 anglers, about the same as last year according to Diane LaBrie of the Laconia Rotary Club, who has chaired the derby ever since the Rotary Club took over sponsorship of the derby from Davis in 2011.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department biologist Don Miller, who is retiring after 38 years with the department and has been at the last 30 Winni Derbies, says that this year's fish are larger than in recent years and show that department's efforts to improve the quality of the salmon catch are working.
CAPTION pix slugged winniderby 2015
$12,000 fish. Clyde LeMay of Wilder, Vt., holds the 4.14 pound salmon that he landed Friday morning near Welch Island and which was the winning fish in the 33rd annual Lake Winni Derby. (Courtesy photo)
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