PULASKI, N.Y. – Not that anglers who enjoy battling those big "Kings of the River" every fall on the tributaries of Lake Ontario in upstate New York need a special reason to make their annual pilgrimages north on Interstate 81. If they make just one trip this year to Oswego County, however, the weekend of Friday-Sunday, Oct. 5-7, is when to make that trip.
That weekend is when the Second Annual Salmon River Fishing Derby will be held on the famous Salmon River in Oswego County as the focal point of the annual Salmon River Festival in Pulaski. This is a 100-percent payout tournament, with the grand prize going to the angler who catches the largest king salmon caught over the three-day event.
There will be daily weigh-ins and thousands of dollars in smaller prizes awarded for various additional categories. All derby participants must be pre-registered, and the registration and weigh-in station will be located at the Ringgold Firemen's Dunbar Field at the end of Lewis Street, just off Route 11.
Derby organizer Vern Chamberlain, who is president of the Salmon River International Sportfishing Museum, said daily cash prizes are awarded for the top three catches of the largest coho salmon. And there are also raffles for many handcrafted prizes and merchandise.
This year, derby organizers once again have teamed with the Pulaski Ringgold Fire Department to assemble a wide selection of live entertainment and vendors with items and displays specific to the fishing industry. Fred Betts, curator of the Salmon River International Sportfishing Museum, said many collectors will display their antique lures and reels and talk about the history of their collections.
"More record-size salmon caught in the Salmon River each year than any river in the eastern United States," Chamberlain said. "The beauty and hospitality of the region, the majesty of the river and the size of the salmon caught make our angler's experience uniquely rewarding. We hope this derby helps get that word out.
"Last year, 75 anglers competed for cash prizes in the derby, and the big winner of the 100 percent payout was Kenneth Green from Altmar, New York. He won $2,100 for bringing in the event's largest king salmon, which weighed in at 31.8 pounds.
"Area businesses were excited to see this event come to the region last year. People from all over the Northeast came to the derby and many are planning to return again this year."
Festival organizer Brian Leary said there will be plenty of activities for both angling and non-angling visitors. In addition to the family-friendly attractions, there will be entertainment, and food and other vendors located at the South Park on Route 11 in Pulaski.
"Together, both events offer a fun-filled weekend for visitors and residents," Leary said. "Whether they are serious and aspiring anglers, families, or craft and antique lovers, we have something for everyone.
"We have an impressive list of sponsors for the tournament such as the head liners Lake Ontario Outdoors Magazine, All Seasons Sports, Team E Media Outdoors, Tug Edge Outdoors, Lakeshore Hardwoods, Salmon Hills and the Salmon River International Sportfishing Museum. Other sponsors include many fine small businesses along the Eastern Basin region of Lake Ontario."
During the derby, which is a major fundraiser for the Salmon River International Sportfishing Museum, the facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the event. Guides will accompany guests through the extensive and unique collection of fishing memorabilia, which features a variety of antique and vintage items from around the world.
During the tournament, the New York State DEC Salmon River Fish Hatchery on county Route 22 in Altmar will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. A significant attraction for first-time visitors to the region and anyone who loves fish, the hatchery provides an in-depth look at how New York State maintains and preserves this world-class fishery.
For information about the derby questions, contact Vernon Chamberlain at 315-298-2213 or by e-mail at vernon@ lakeshorehardwoods.com. For rules and weigh-ins, visit the derby Web site at www.salmonriverderby.com.
For information about upcoming events in Oswego County, call the Oswego County Tourism Office at 1-800-596-3200 ext. 8322 or go to www.visitoswegocounty .com.