O ne of the oldest freshwater family fishing events in the country returns to the waters of Lake Champlain this weekend.
The 31st annual Lake Champlain International Father’s Day Fishing Derby will be held Saturday, June 16, through Monday, June 18.
The derby is also one of the largest freshwater tournaments in the United States and attracts a wide range of anglers, from the professional to dads taking their children fishing for the first time.
The derby typically attracts several thousand participants each year.
Locally, anglers can register for the event at Honey’s Bait Shop in Whitehall until Friday evening.
The shop will also serve as one of the event’s official weigh-in stations and the only one at the southern end of the lake.
“It’s a great chance to get out and fish,” said Leonard Field, owner of Honey’s Bait and Tackle.
He said there have been few major changes made to this year’s event, although organizers have made a few minor tweaks, primarily to prizes.
There will once again be seven major prize categories that bring 11 species of fish into play. Anglers who catch the first place finish in each species category will win $3,000. Break the derby record in any particular category and the prize doubles.
To celebrate its 31st anniversary, organizers are offering a birthday fish bonus. Catch the 31st place fish in a species category and you’ll receive a $310 cash bonus.
There is also a $1,000 cash bonus for anyone who catches a fish that has been tagged by LCI biologists.
The derby begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, and continues until 4 p.m. on Monday, June 18. An awards ceremony will be held in Burlington on Saturday, June 23.
Honey’s Bait and Tackle will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.
Lake Champlain International is a federally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation, restoration and revitalization of Lake Champlain and its watershed.
The derby helps provide funds and resources for the organization and aids in their efforts to keep Lake Champlain a swimmable, drinkable and fishable waterway.
For more information, visit www.mychamplain.net.