Great Lakes Angler Blog

Weekend Heroics Mean Big Bucks for LOC Derby Winners

Thursday, September 08, 2016
Share |

By Bill Hilts Jr.

It was some last-minute heroics for several of the big winners in this year’s Fall Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held August 19-September 5, starting with the Grand Prize winner in the Salmon Division. Drew Kersic of Philadephia, Pennsylvania had his own story to tell as he caught the biggest Chinook overall to win the $25,000 check – his first salmon ever on his first fishing trip ever on Lake Ontario! Call it fate, chance or just being in the right place at the right time, Kersic was excited at the awards ceremony held Labor Day at Captain Jack’s in Sodus Point when he presented his 34 pound, 9 ounce king for photos.

On Saturday, September 4, he was fishing with Capt. Chad Gehrig of Oswego aboard the “Son of a Gun,” a 40 foot Jersey operating out of Oswego. On board were first mate Mike Ariola of Oswego; Kevin Trainor of Philadelphia; Rob Shaak of Philadephia; Pete Shaak of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania; Matt Stellabotte of Philadelphia; and Nick Norton of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. They were trolling in 75 feet of water in front of the power plant and had seen a few short hits when the eventual winner grabbed hold of a cut bait rig around 9:30 am. Kersic was up and he didn’t disappoint. At 9:55 am they were taking a picture of the fish that would be the eventual winner.

“We were trolling with a dipsy diver in 75 feet of water, 210 feet back on a No. 3 setting using a gold and chrome Golden Boy attractor and a charteuse Jon King cutbait head loaded with cut bait,” said Gehrig at the awards gathering. “The cut bait was Dreamweaver Ballyhoo that was colored with Pautzke blue brine. When we put the fish on the Boga scale on the boat, it wasn’t reading right so I contacted Capt. Tom Burke with Cold Steel nearby and he floated me over his scale. It bounced between 34 and 36. When we saw that, we headed right in to the official scales.”

Kersic, who works ground maintenance at the Philadelphia airport, was hoping to use some money on his kids and to help start up a new landscaping business. He will split some up among the other anglers, thankful they had invited him along. However, his winning catch was almost beat out the last day!

Lynn Thomson, Jr. of Syracuse was fishing with Paul Powers of Oswego and Matt Riebenfeld of Oswego on Labor Day when they hit a big fish around 10:15 am right in front of Oswego Harbor. Some 15 minutes later, they were holding up a big king that was jumping around 34 to 35 pounds on the hand-held scale and decided to run in for a quick weigh in, not taking any chances. They had been using a custom-taped Pro Troller flasher with chrome and green UV tape in front of an A-Tom-Mik meat rig, 60 feet down over 65 feet of water on a downrigger. They were fishing out of Powers’ 27 foot Sportcraft named “Ruka.”

When they hit the scales at K & G Lodge, they knew it was going to be close. The final weight was 34 pounds, six ounce – just three ounces shy of the overall winner. The trio still won $5,000 for first place in the Salmon Division. As far as what the money was going to be used for, Thomson declined to say. “It’s a secret for now … but I will let you know,” he said at Sodus Point.

Second place in the Salmon Division was Richard Clark of Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania with a 33 pound, 13 ounce king caught off the Salmon River on the second day of the derby, August 20. It led the contest for nearly 16 days. He was fishing with Dave Trachte of Sandgate, Vermont; Doug Bell of Stanhope, New Jersey; and Myrna Loy of Rock Hill, South Carolina aboard his 25-foot Carolina Classic named “Sinbad the Sinner.” They caught the fish at 8:30 am trolling a green Pro Troll flasher and a Big Weenie Pole Dancer fly 130 feet down over 140 feet of water. The fish was a personal best for Clark and he’s been fishing the derbies for 25 years. He won $2,000. 

First place brown trout was caught by Earl “Skip” Foster of Wilson, fishing with his son, Scott from North Tonawanda on August 30. The two second year anglers found a “secret” brown trout spot between Wilson and Olcott that produced not only the winning fish at 17 pounds, 4 ounces but also produced the third place fish at 15 pounds, 13 ounces. “We were fishing in 50 feet of water with our dipsy diver set back 120 feet on a No. 3.5 setting when the big brown hit,” said Foster. “The lure was called ‘My Secret’ from Bay Rat lures, a lime green and yellow stickbait.” It was his biggest brown trout ever. They were fishing out of Scott’s 22-foot Boston Whaler, quick to give credit to Capt. Roger Young with Papa Smurf Charters who gave them fishing advice prior to them going out. The Fosters won $2,500.

Ironically, the second place brown trout came from virtually the same area between Wilson and Olcott, but a little bit deeper. Dennis Stabler of Lockport was fishing with Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga aboard his 18.5 foot Fisher/Tracker named Ame-less on August 23, trolling a white and green spin doctor and A-Tom-Mik green hammer fly – targeting kings. At 9:30 am, a fish hit and they thought it was a small king, taken from 80 feet of water with a copper set-up that stretched back 300 feet. It turned out to be a 17 pound brown trout! “It’s the first time I’ve ever caught a brown on a fly and it turned out to be my biggest ever,” said Stabler. He earned $1,000 for his catch, not counting the $200 for fish of the day. He also won $750 in the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey for the trophy fish.

In the Steelhead Division, it was David Cole of Brooktondale, NY setting the pace for 17 days with a 14 pound fish he caught August 19, the first day of the derby. It was the first fish weighed in, too. But it was not meant to be. Enter John Jankowski of Sloan, fishing with his wife Laurie on Sept. 4 in the afternoon out of Olcott.

“We had been trolling just west of Olcott near Wilson, 65 feet down over 490 feet of water,” said Jankowski to the awards attendees. “My wife was actually taking a little nap and I decided it was time to head in around 3:30 pm in the afternoon. As I was reeling in some of my other lines, the 65 foot rigger went off, hitting my silver and black Dreamweaver spoon that I doctored up with a pink ladderback.” The fish turned out to be a personal best, a 15 pound, 15 ounce steelie, winning the $2,500 check for the Division. However, it was not the personal best for the 23 foot Sylvan named Triple J. His son boated a 21 pounder off it 10 years ago. 

Back to Cole, who had been fishing with Dave Baublitz of Gillett, Pennsylvania and Faith Reimers of Gillett, Pennsylvania out of Wayne County. They had been fishing out to 220 feet of water when they made a turn south. They had one rod that was trailing 600 feet of copper and that was the lure the trout decided to hit – a Twinkie rig behind an ITO two-face flasher. Baublitz and Reimers immediately pointed to Cole to grab the rod. “It’s your 600 feet of copper!” The fish turned out to be worth $1,000. It wasn’t his biggest steelie ever. His biggest was a 15 pound, 3 ounce fish … and he wasn’t in the derby. He’s fished in every one since then! It has certainly paid off for him in the long run.

For a complete leaderboard go to Be sure to like the derby on Facebook, too. Dates for 2017 are already up on the website. 

Recent Posts


Bibs Rig'N Tails PFDs Whale Headgear Aqua Vu Normark SOG Spreads Tom Neustrom ice fishing, Bro Show, Traditions Media Full Throttle Boats Gull Lake Marine La Mar Catch & Cook Coleman Downriggers Salmon Wild River series PRADCO 1675 Pro Guide Rugged Shark LineGrabber AKOYA Bug bite relief Boat maintenance Blue Heron Communications Snow-Shoe Tip-Up Muskie Lure One-Handle-Does-It-All System GPS for Lightning Connector ShowSpan Personal Flotation Devices 580P lenses Fishing Clubs Pop-Up LED Bowlights Costa National Guard Rubrail thieves sunglass exotic species Rain suit Chronglobal eZSplice RAT FINKEE Whale Pumps Grab Rail blue marlin Odd'ball Fin Spin Mustad Corey Schmidt InvisaSnap JVD Holland YUM Plano Tackle Boxes USCGA redfish YUM Dinger GPS Speedometer Mike Seymour Sun protection Side Thruster Gunnison, CO Glacier Glove Torpedo Divers Tournament Bass Deck Plate Titan Chain Tournament Grade Circle Hooks Aquatic AV YUMphibian Green Bay Knife sharpening USSA Larson Electronics Flat Slider 75 Church Tackle Black Earth Creek Fiberglass tiller Lake Superior Foul weather gear Skarlis Ryan Wilson Ultimate Flannel Shirts The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls Evolve Ultracoat Delorme Tracker Marine Crankbait Net FLW Boat Covers Kayak Kevin Van Dam Gill NA Michigan City, Indiana MWC Pro Polish Bad Elf Endura News NAIFC Championship Footwear HELLA exotic invader Keep Kool Simrad Gary Giudice Trade Shows BoatUS Pharmaceuticals Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Grunden's BOLT Padlock WFN Venice, Louisiana South Haven Future Fisherman Foundation Dollahon Shoremaster Legend Gold VMC Black Velvet Ryan Kleckner Brandon Newby CMP Global Bait head Micro-Mobile Pro Viewing Case RedHead Nautical STRATTEC Air show Jeff's Tackle Shop Balog Kayaks Weather Buoy Fishing CUSTOM JIGS 'N' SPINS Traditions Rain gear Kindle book Mack's Lures Mosquito repellent Oculus Frabill Gear Oshkosh Whistler Spoon tree stand injury Clay Dyer marlin Insect repellent Forage Minnow Wildlife Forever McMurdo Brian Brosdahl Jeff Wenzel Salmon Unlimited of Illinois F-Series Storm Gear Clam Raritan Brad's Homeport Marine Marketing Absolute Outdoor, Inc. Insurance John E. Phillips Plano Synergy Marine General Conservation Glorvigen ONIX dock lines FRIDAY FUNNIES Lip-Stix MUSHING Side Imaging Lights Hunting ChartSelect Marine NewsWire Onyx Jack Links boat rental Mark Chmura Ravenswood Media Extended Warranty Fish America Foundation Wisconsin Up Stream Hydration Back Pack Boat lifts Bro Brosdahl Rippin Lips iPilot ASA Camera mount Silver Horde DuraSafe Swim Whizz Team Aqua-Vu Ice Features Grand Rapids Ultimate Outdoors Show Bass fishing Michigan DNR Army Corp of Engineers Orca Fin System Boat names Scott Martin 360 Mercury Marine Hobie Pro Angler Legend Extreme jigs Chatterbait Kevin VanDam Costa Sunglasses Chicago barrier Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plate Synergy Outdoors Lake trout Shock Wave Alaskan Mazurek Magnum Flow-Troll Okuma Humminbird LakeMaster Western States Version Rescue Rough Weather fitness Mystery Tackle Box Sport Shows Ranger Muscle Squared 65 JBL Triton Boats Honda Patrick Hurst Earth Day Grady-White U.S.S.A. Wind Power Milennia MIL-iDock Angler Bob Schmidt Masters Walleye Circuit Shipping B.A.S.S. Optima River Fishing KVD Tackle Bag Walleye tournament Baitcast Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter Andrew Semprevivo Aqua-Vu theft Soul5 Tackle Labs LOTSA clubs Lake Erie Berkley IGFA Mark Zona South Haven, Michigan Ditty bag Betsy Lock inReach Wake Fishing Streams Bristol Bay Beckson Vick Bait Holder mudsnail Power Aqualuma Volvo Penta Faria Global Spectrum Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plates and Kits Fuel Michigan PLB Brian "Bro" Brosdahl EZ Splice Fasteners New Lures tackle storage Sheldon's BASSMASTER CLASSIC Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Accon Marine Storage Bheestie Bag iPilot Link Safety Gene Larew Lakemaster Bethel University Stabenow Dave Genz Free Fishing Weekend SeaLife Cameras Angler 175T Iaconelli Swanson-Russell Slide Moor Dunkirk, NY Coleman cooler Frigibar Bug repellent spinning rod Sunstream Boat Lifts Tight Lines Jewelry Contaminants Asian carp Prosepec Electronics Tournaments Line Recycle Bin Sportsman's rights Lake Michigan DSC Lake Huron Manistee Video Tyee Bass Pro Shops Four-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch LCWCC Ditch Ranger Boats treestand injury The Harry Lure Coast Guard Martin-Flory Lake Ontario Boga Lake Assault Boat US Jonathon VanDam Wounded Warriors Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo Lighting Quantum Traxstech Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs Moisture Muncher Jeff Gustafson trailer tongue EZ BoatPort Accessories iPad Invasive species Bristol Bay Salmon Topwater Jerky toilet Tools EZ Dock Yamaha Uncle Norm's Contest Custom Jigs & Spins BoatUS Angler Davis Instruments Smart Guide to Freshwater Fishing Electronics Practical Sailor Brown trout Strike King Ranger VS1780 Dogs Lund Multi-species Serious Shine Marine Speakers Marine Radio Hevi-Beads Walleye Ned Rig Matt Straw DuraSafe Electronics Lock Yamaha ATV Fort Wayne, Indiana Bass Pro TRAC Boating safety Speakers Launch ramp Ethanol Aluminum Deep V Series Catfish Soft Jigwobbler Bass Pro Shops Gift Card Minnesota Owners tournament Line Plano KVD Speedbag Wormfile Walleyes Ranger Aluminum Deep V Series ABT X-2 Countdown Trout Unlimited Z-Man Indiana DNR spoon University of Buffalo iPhone Lund Boats WileyX Marsh Madness Cabela's Turning Point Props Personal Flotation Device MATE USA LineSnubber hardbaits Fish Hawk XD4 Interlux Olcott, NY Batteries Water Buddies Rods Marcum METS Apps Great Lakes Troller Size limits splice Records Navigation Bass lure CLASSIC Northland Smartfind S20 Personal AIS Beacon Chargers EVOLVE FISHING CO Shelter ODNR Hobie Youth High school bass fishing Monel Metal Ascend MULL BLOG Goby New Zealand Knives Kurt Mazurek Cliff Pace Lures Rippin' Lips Costa Del Mar thieves trailer tongue Reese Sunglasses SeaEra QC Acme Ice Fishing Minn Kota Lowrance Alaska Sharpeners bimini top Port of Indiana Mary Snyder Gary Dollahon Princecraft Hamlin Traditions Media Louie Stout Autotether weather Kill switch Cannon Shurhold Deep Sea Diver Rovermax LR 100 USCG Brite Wash Lead Macho Minnow AmVets Gravity Marine Lighting Rushton Gregory Dave Mull Blog Mack's Lure Innovative Outdoors ATV Tip-Up Steve Wood Big Bear Products award Dave Mull Technology Scholarship ABT Sphaera binoculars Oakley Sunglasses Todd Sokolow New York Tides St. Croix KVD Speedbag Mr. Twister Soo Locks St. Croix Rods Fishouflage Boating Beckson Marine radar Multitools Telescoping JIggler Long Rod Izaak Walton League Games Beckson Marine Deck Plate Extreme Baitcast Reel Swim bait great lakes Tim Popfinger Dan Egan Shoes Evinrude Radial USO On board Home Port Marine Marketing Mag Light Lake of the Woods Skamania Mania Conservation Marathon Rapala Chaco WeatherStation News/Social Alabama Rig Fiberglass boat BASSMASTER Matt Serbenski Scott Glorvigen Andrew Dordek Bass Pro Shops Niagara Falls Spencer Yachts Seakeeper gyro Audio Smart Guide Publications Tommy Skarlis cruzin Buff Bait Rigs Promise Keeper TRAC Ecological PulseTech spreader light Barry Brown Marine Radio Airmar Husky Jerk Safe boating Reef Runner OHIO Thermacell Swedish FireKnife Blue Collar Outdoors NMEA Dollohan Slender Spoon Green Bay, Wisconsin Wedding Ring