LACONIA — After a one-year hiatus, the Winni Derby, Lake Winnipesaukee's spring salmon and lake trout tournament, will be held for the 34th time May 19 through 21.
The Daniel Webster Council of the Boy Scouts of America has partnered with the Laconia Rotary Club to promote and produce this year's tournament. The Laconia Rotary Club took over management of the Winni Derby from the Lakes Region Inland Fishing Association and tournament founder Rick Davis in 2011. Davis intended to support the Rotary Club and the tournament in an advisory capacity at the time, so his death in November 2011 was a blow to tournament organizers. After producing the Winni Derby for four more years on its own, the Laconia Rotary Club canceled the 2016 derby and announced that they were looking for a partner to help bring back the tournament for 2017.
The Daniel Webster Council responded and has committed to keeping the Winni Derby going on an annual basis.
"We are pleased that the Scouts stepped up to help us bring back the Winni Derby and look forward to seeing it grow under their leadership," said Jon Nivus, treasurer of the Laconia Rotary Club. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the character-building youth programs of the Boy Scouts of America.
The 34th annual Winni Derby will introduce new elements to the tournament, including a women's division and a Friday evening social and expo at the Merrill Fay Arena in Laconia on May 19. Admission to the expo is included in the price of a derby ticket and will feature food, entertainment, and exhibitors as well as door prizes and announcement of Friday's daily awards.
This year's tournament will also include 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.
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials are looking forward to the Winni Derby as part of their ongoing effort to monitor the health of the fishery and educate fishermen about ways to be good stewards of Lake Winnipesaukee's limited population of landlocked salmon.
"The Winni Derby has been an important part of our management of the salmon fishery for over 30 years and we look forward to partnering with the Boy Scouts to continue our efforts," said John Viar, biologist with the Inland Fisheries Division of New Hampshire's Fish & Game Department.
Alan "A.J" Nute, owner of A.J.'s Bait & Tackle in Meredith, said there is a lot of excitement among fishermen and Lake's Region business owners about the Winni Derby's return.
"The Derby's going to be a busy weekend for all of us on the lake. We're thrilled that it's back," said Nute.
Tickets to participate in the derby are available at select retailers around the state or online. Sales locations and online registration can be found at www.winniderby.com.