Opinion: What happened to Hammond fishing derby money?
Monday, January 30, 2017 - 8:28 am

Editor's note: The shop owner later responded to the allegations made in this letter. The response is here.

To the Editor:

Some friends and I entered the “Fish Pink” ice fishing derby a couple weeks ago sponsored by Fish Creek Bait & Tackle in Hammond.

I was thinking that $5 to a great cause for something we are going to do anyway is win-win!

After an amazing day of fishing on Black Lake, I excitedly brought my 7 lbs. 7 oz. (personal record!) and a 5 lbs. something ounce northern pike to be weighed in.

After waiting more than an hour and a half outside in the dark for the winning fish sizes, the end was still not in sight. We left. I was so cold and tired!

Fast forward a week at the Alex Bay ice fishing derby weigh in…we see an acquaintance we see regularly while fishing both on the ice and for carp. He says “you're Mary right? You beat me last weekend for third place by 2 ounces! You won $300-something?”

The next day I call the bait shop and ask who won. He tells me he doesn't know and asks who I am. So I tell him my name and what I was told. He said I needed to be present to win. I said it did not say that on the fliers and he told me it didn't have to say it (although other fliers do say it specifically and also when registering occasionally one needs to provide a phone number, and why would it be needed unless it was to notify you that you had won?)

Okay, fine. When I asked who won he rudely told me “whoever was under me.” I said “No he didn't…he's the one who told me that I won because I beat him by 2 ounces. So who walked away with the cash?” And then he hung up on me!

Who got the money? I don't want to believe that he pocketed it, but where else did it go? I'd think that the winner's names and stats of winning fish would be written down to avoid something like this and just to keep track over the years.

It isn't that I didn't get money -- we do it for fun every weekend anyway and just wanted to support a great cause. It's the fact that the derby was not fair and the person who was supposed to place, whether not needing to be present (Me) or having to be there (Shawn) did not.

I ask again, where did the money go? If anyone reading this actually won something at that derby, please write a letter letting the public know! Set me straight. Anything to change my opinion that someone involved with the derby or bait store simply took the prize money for themselves.

Mary Vaisey