Kankakee fish derby pays plenty

July 08, 2009 at 03:43 PM

The Kankakee River Fishing Derby provided a $14,350 economic stimulus to area anglers Monday night in the largest payday in recent derby history.

“This is our biggest prize night in years, that’s for sure,’’ said derby chairman Sam Thomas of Bourbonnais. Indeed the largest payout in derby history was in 1999 with $17,700 awarded on 11 tagged fish and other contests.

A total of $10,100 in prizes was awarded this year to 12 fishermen who captured 13 tagged fish. Brent Flynn won a total of $400 on two tagged fish at Bird Park Quarry. He also picked up a $100 cash bonus for capturing two derby tags.

That $10,100 figure represents tagged fish prizes, and winners of the Big Board contest and Derby Dollar days. The remaining prize total comes from miscellaneous merchandise items.

“An estimated 1,161 people participated in this year’s derby,” Thomas said. Turnout is roughly 573 below last year’s 1,734 participants.

Registration fees totaled $11,800 according to preliminary estimates. “We’ve had some prizes donated and the fish we sponsored were all insured,” said derby treasurer Jim Reed of Kankakee. “It’s still too early to tell, but I’m hoping to break even this year.”

Successful chase

Jeff Dummer of Kankakee won the derby’s grand prize with the 11-pound, 8-ounce northern pike that he caught late Thursday fishing near Momence.

“I guess that I’ve been chasing the grand prize for several years now,” Dummer said after receiving his trophy. “I’ve won the pike contest five times and won in rock bass and largemouth bass.’‘

The competition between Dummer and Joyce Siwicki for the best northern has become a derby attraction. Siwicki finished second with a 9-pound, 10-ounce pike.

“I really thought that this year’s grand champion would go to the walleye (Kevin Reiners of Crete, 6 pounds, 11 ounces) or to the rock bass (Willie Thompson of Momence, at 1 pound, 4 ounces),” Dummer said.

In all, 36 of the derby’s best fishermen collected prizes. Some winners were absent Monday and will receive their prizes later.

The biggest winners were Adrian Maiden, who collected $2,500 in diamond jewelry from Volkmann’s Diamonds in Kankakee, and Mike Quigley, who won a $2,500 check from The Daily Journal.

Dexter Price of Kankakee also pocketed a $1,000 cash prize from Pepsi Americas.

Russell Moutrey of Bradley finally made it on the list of tagged fish winners after waiting several days for his registration to be confirmed.

Moutrey caught a 15-ounce smallmouth named “Reject’’ while fishing near the Momence dam Saturday morning. The tag paid $500 in cash from the Momence Anchor Club.

“The derby has always relied on the honesty and integrity of the people in our weight stations,” Thomas said, addressing some controversy raised over one of the finalists on the Big Board.

Brett Burson, owner of Taz’s Bait and Archery in Kankakee, won second place in the smallmouth bass division with a 3-pound, 2-ounce fish that had been weighed in at his shop.

“We looked into that and Brett did not weigh the fish,” Thomas said. The fish was weighed in by Burson’s father, Don Burson. Both father and son are avid bass tournament fishermen. “We have no reason to question the weight,” Thomas said.

The derby’s top prize, an 11-ounce smallmouth named “Sparky,” once again eluded capture. “That fish was released along Kennedy Drive,” Thomas said as a collective groan went up from the audience.

“Sparky,” sponsored by NECA/IBEW Local 176, was worth a new fishing boat, motor and trailer package valued at $5,000.