Mike and Rosemary Dean, organizers of the annual Tillsonburg Family Fishing Derby at Lake Lisgar, love to see families ‘catch them all, big or small.’
Not literally ‘all’ – even with catch and release – but it accurately describes the range of fish caught during this year’s July 3-11 virtual derby.
Participants were asked to submit photos of their fish, or themselves fishing, or even just enjoying time outdoors in the Tillsonburg and/or Lake Lisgar area.
“We had 151 entries,” said Rosemary. “Most of them were pictures of fishing, but there were some just out enjoying our beautiful town. One was a photo of their daughter out on a kayak in the lake. We had some people sitting at the gazebo enjoying the view sent in. One family, new to Tillsonburg, they didn’t fish but they sent photos enjoying Lake Lisgar and the stuff around it, so that was nice.”
Everybody who entered a photo received a prize, whether in buckets or bags that included (donated) hand sanitizer and face masks, T-shirts and colouring sheets. Some received small camping lanterns. A couple bicycles were given away, a boat, a floating ‘Big Horn’ lounge tube, fishing rods, tackle boxes, sunglasses, bandanas, sticker sets, frisbees and more.
“Some of the kids were only 2-3 years old,” Dean added, noting that prizes were adjusted for age. Some of the bigger fish warranted bigger prizes.
“We had a lot of variety of good stuff. It was really just making sure that everybody that submitted got something.”
Most of the prizes were purchased at Canadian Tire, a long-time sponsor of the derby.
“We support Canadian Tire locally when we do this event… and they give us an amazing deal.
“We got some unexpected donations this year, which was nice. We got an in-kind donation from Jim McKibbin from Tillsonburg to put toward the fishing derby – he was an old Optimist (organizers of Tillsonburg’s fishing derby in years past). Otter Lodge No. 50 also gave us $600 towards this derby.”
Unsure how many entries they would have, the Deans did not approach the Kinsmen Club, annually generous supporters, but they will again next year when things hopefully return to a one-day, traditional derby in July 2022.
“We were really happy – people have been coming to our house to pick up their prizes. People are thankful we put this on event and we hope to see them back in 2022.”
Dean said ‘at the end of the day, everyone was a winner just getting out.’
“We’re just happy for everybody, they’re all winners in our eyes. And we are thankful they were able to support us this year virtually.”
The biggest fish this year were carp.
“We had some massive fish and we had lots of little fish, that’s normal. We had a lot of carp – and big carp – this year. Huge. One probably weighed 35 pounds.
“We had some bass. One of the adults caught some nice size bass. And we had one catfish photo sent in – it was a small one.”
The Deans did not get too detailed in awarding prizes – there was no 1st, 2nd, 3rd in any division because there wasn’t any official measuring this year.
“Usually we have more adults enter, but this year I think people were more focused on getting pictures with their kids, or families, together doing something together.”