Whitehall fishing derby gets more lines in the water, and fewer fish thrown out

WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A hot and humid Monday marked the final day of a competition that’s brought anglers to the north end of Washington County all weekend.

And the heat didn’t change the fact that there were still more fish to catch.

The weekend’s Father’s Day fishing derby pulled over 100 families to cast lines at Whitehall’s state boat launch along South Bay. Those numbers have only gone up from last year.

“This is probably the best season we’ve had, weather and fishwise,” said Everett Mattison, one of the organizers for the South Bay event waiting to chronicle more fisher’s catch on Monday. “Even considering the hot, hazy weather, it’s still good.”

Mattison and his wife are the owners of Mattison’s Workshop on Route 4, where raffles were held. Fishers took home equipment, fish poles, gift certificates and more.

That’s because the derby’s main awards are all digital. The event was part of a bigger event held by Lake Champlain International, which is judging entrants fishing from Whitehall up to Lake Champlain with 80 awards up for grabs.

But Mattison says he wanted the anglers onsite in town to have something to take home with them at the end of the day.

“They really need it here,” he said. “There’s not a lot else that they can do in Whitehall.”

What’s swimming around in there?

Families coming through the weekend have been catching bowfin, catfish and sheephead. Some anglers take their fish home.

“Not me,” said fisherman Matt Baker, “I’m catch and release.”

Baker and Mattison said releasing most fish that are caught is important, and respecting the local ecosystem is something anglers keep in mind.

Last weekend was the first time the Whitehall competition has been held at the state boat launch. Previously it was hosted by a local marina, but the location caused problems for fish after they were caught.

“A lot of people fish up the canal more, and they had to drive all the way to Whitehall to get weighed,” Mattison explained. “If they didn’t have good live wells, the fish were dying.”

Live wells are containment units used to transfer live fish after they’ve been caught. Mattison estimated over 100 pounds of fish were thrown out this year because they didn’t make the trip to get evaluated.

Since moving to the boat launch, it’s a different story.

“We’ve had three dead fish all weekend.”

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