The 40th annual Canandaigua Lake Trout Derby was held on the hottest weekend of the year to date, June 5-6. While the temperatures hovered near 90 degrees, no records were set. The same can’t be said about the winning fish.
Justin Schwenzer clobbered the old record by catching a 29.25-pound lake trout, setting a new standard for the heaviest fish caught in the derby. The previous record holder was Les Breuer, who won the 2016 event with a 16.18-pound brown trout.
Schwenzer caught his monster laker the morning of June 5 at 9 a.m. He was fishing over 250 feet of water with a setup of inline planer boards and a Seth Green rig.
“I was fishing with my friend, Greg Bugbee, and we had Bay Rat stick baits 20 feet down,” Schwenzer said during a recent telephone conversation. “Something hit the bait and I started reeling in. There weren’t any head shakes, and we both thought we were tangled with the other lines.”
Schwenzer, a 42-year-old Dansville resident, said it felt like a dead weight until about 40 feet from the boat.
“At 40 feet I felt the head shakes of a large fish,” he said. “It took 20 minutes to get the laker to the boat and it was just an amazing experience, and it makes you realize how important a really good net man to have on your boat.”
The pair were fishing from Schwenzer’s 16-foot Smokercraft, powered by a 4-stroke 50hp Yamaha. The lake trout was 39.5 inches long.
The Canandaigua Lake Trout Derby is a classic event for local fisherman, but it’s also a significant fundraiser for Camp Good Days & Special Times, Mercy Flight Central, and Naples Hospeace House. This year, each charity was presented with a check for $5,000.
Since its inception, the derby has raised more than $240,000 for local charities.
Schwenzer took home the $1,000 top prize with his massive fish. John Axtell was second with a 12.26-pound brown trout, good for $750, while Paul Sandroni took third with a 12-pound brown. Sandroni won $500.
The division awards broke down as follows:
1. Terry Bodine, 11.92.
2. Bill Welch, 10.88.
3. Jeff Rogers, 10.67.
1. Quinn Sadler, 10.82.
2. Porter Hunt, 9.55.
3. Kevin Merring, 9.17.
1. Dave Merring, 6.97.
2. Nick Hauman, 6.68.
3. Chris Sherman, 5.70.
“Our 40th anniversary year was incredibly exciting and successful,” derby Chair Lindsay Morrow said. “Not only did we have an outstanding turnout of more than 300 participants, but to break the derby record and be able to provide substantial donations to our charities was incredibly satisfying.”
The derby committee recognized the work of one of the event’s founding members, Al Woodhead. Woodhead has devoted 40 years to this annual fundraising effort, with many years served as chair of the committee.
T-Mobile was the derby’s Grand Prize Sponsor. The Platinum and Gold Sponsors were Canandaigua Country Club, Canandaigua Federal Credit Union 16176, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, Heron Hill Winery, The Sawmill Restaurant/Field’s Construction, Yaw Automation, Flint Creek Taxidermy Studio, and Brew and Brats at Arbor Hill.
For more information, visit canandaiguatroutderby.org or find the derby on Facebook.
Young deer hunters benefit from change
The 2021-22 state budget signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo included legislation that allows those 12-13 years old to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter in upstate counties that opt to participate.
Several counties already have passed laws allowing it.
The new opportunity is temporary because the law sunsets in 2023. It specifically includes the following provisions:
• Allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm in areas such firearms may be used during hunting seasons, including the youth big game hunting weekend.
• Allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a crossbow during the times when other hunters may use crossbows.
• Requires supervision of an experienced and licensed adult hunter who maintains physical control over the youth hunter at all times.
• Requires the youth hunter and adult mentor to wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing and to remain at ground level while hunting deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has posted a map depicting counties that have opted into the program on its Junior Big Game Hunting webpage and will regularly update the map as more counties adopt local laws to participate. The webpage also describes the details and rules for these young hunters.
While there is no deadline for counties to opt in, doing so by early September will allow DEC to provide information to hunters through DEC’s website, social media, and other platforms prior to the beginning of 2021 big game seasons.
Hunters seeking to have this new law apply in their area should work with their county officials to pass a law opting into this opportunity.