Anglers net $1,800 in tagged fish during a year for big fish

    The weather cooperated this past week, as the Kankakee River Fishing Derby came to a close on Sunday.
    Fishing results were improved over last year with six tagged fish getting caught (four in 2016), but it still was below par compared to the long-term average (eight per year). That didn’t stop registered anglers from competing.
    “This is my third year being involved directly with the derby, and it was by far the best one,” said Ken Munjoy, one of the organizers. “The weather cooperated, the water level cooperated, and there were a lot of people out fishing.”
    Overall, out of the 98 fish tagged and released in the river, six were caught, resulting in $1,800 in cash prizes.
    “Three of them were caught by kids at the Bird Park quarry, and three by adults in the river,” Munjoy noted. “...The number of large fish on the big board is up substantially.”
    Five of the six tagged fish caught were hooked by sportsmen from Kankakee, while one was caught by Darrell Benoit from Bourbonnais.  Benoit caught Jean Alice worth $500 cash, sponsored by Northern Illinois Anglers Association.
    Ryan McGinnis and Parks Mullady each landed a tagged fish worth $500 cash. McGinnis’ fish was Capt. Cody, sponsored by Manteno Sportsmens Club, while Mullady caught Hammerhead, sponsored by Carpenters Local 496.
    In the quarry, Gavin Cartelli caught two fish for $100 each, while Ailton Avalos caught a fish for another $100. All three were sponsored by United Disposal.
    Along with the tagged fish, the NIAA was thrilled with the sizes of fish caught that were put on the big board.
    Three locals were able to get their names on the big board, with Glen Anderson from Custer Park holding the number one spot in the rough fish category. Anderson reeled in a catch weighing 19 lbs. 11 oz.
    Bill Osborne from Braidwood holds third in the Channel Catfish category with a cat weighing 13 lbs 6 oz., while Carol Rieck from Wilmington holds fourth in the rough fish category with a weight of 14 lbs. 10 oz.
    Osborne is no stranger to the big board, as he earned first place last year with a channel catfish weighing 14 lbs. 11 oz.
    “We had big fish in every category, it has really been a great year for the fishermen,” Munjoy said. “We couldn’t be more happy about that. We saw a few new names on the board, that is always nice, and we always have the perennial folks that are out there year after year. They are really devoted.”
    The grand champion fish of the derby was voted on Monday night, and will be announced at the awards banquet tonight (Wednesday). The banquet starts at 6 p.m., and will be held at the Bradley-Bourbonnais Sportsmens Club.
    A couple of youngsters picked up $100 each through the Kid’s Corkin’ Day this year. Justin Osborne of Braidwood, a 10-year-old, hauled in a smallmouth bass (1lb. 8 oz.), while Riley Arseneau of Bourbonnais turned in a 3 oz. rock bass.
    After all, kids getting out and fishing is one of the goals of the NIAA.
    “When I see kids winning prizes, I know they aren’t out there by themselves,” Munjoy said. “It is usually a parent, or someone the kid looks up to taking them out fishing. That is one of the goals of the NIAA. Last year we had three kids on the big board, I really get excited about that.”
    Overall, it highlights another successful year for the derby, with enrollment near average, with 400 individuals signing up, and most sign ups averaging two people per ticket.
    “Northern Illinois Anglers Association has been sponsoring this event for 34 years, and we have the full intention of doing that for many years to come,” Munjoy said. “We couldn’t do that without the media, without people participating, and without sponsors. We are just organizers, but this event is made possible by many, many people, and we appreciate all of them.”