FAYETTE — On Saturday, day 1 of National Lake Trout Derby, anglers experienced some hit-and-miss storms.However, that didn’t deter the team of the Campbell brothers.
“We fished early morning and then came in between storms,” Chris Campbell said during Monday’s awards ceremony at Stivers Seneca Marine.
The 25-year-old winner and his brother, Justin, went back out after resting. They were jigging in 50 feet of water, near the pump station on the northeast side of the lake. They were vertical-jigging when the fish hit.
“It was just a lead jig, like an alewife imitation,” Chris said.
It may have been just a simple jig, but it was enough to excite a lake trout to bite — and that 10.85-pound fish took the grand prize of $10,000 in the 55th annual trout contest.
It was the lightest grand-prize winner since 2000.
Campbell, who lives in Naples and works for the city of Geneva, caught his fish at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and remained at the top of the leaderboard for the remainder of the event.
The difference between grand prize and first place in the Lake Trout Division was scant: 0.03 pounds, to be precise. Mike Rollo entered his 10.82-pound fish on Sunday.
The difference is probably the weight of one alewife bait fish.
When asked what the plan was for the $10,000, Campbell said he would split it with his brother. “Some of my winnings will go to help pay for my new car, and then I want to build some savings for a house,” he said.
He added that some of his winnings might be spent on a new outboard motor for the 17-foot Lund boat he brought to Seneca Lake.
Campbell has been fishing the National Lake Trout Derby since he was 14 years old and said it was an honor to win the contest.
“People should get off their phones and fish the derby,” was Chris Campbell’s parting advice.
Bob Stivers, president of Finger Lakes Sports-O-Rama, the organization that oversees the derby, said that the 2019 event had 839 registrations. Although the numbers were down from years past, the derby paid out the full cash prizes, Stivers noted.