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Baby Black Bear by Chuck Wiser

Fishing Derby weekend ahead for Wellsville


   Important updates, derby map, and advice from local angler John Tucker

The weather looks great for the return of the Great Wellsville Fishing Derby after two years of Covid.  Anglers can expect mild temperatures, about sixty degrees with no rain in the forecast. This flagship event, founded by the Wellsville Lion’s Club and adopted by the Wellsville Chamber of Commerce, has been enjoyed by thousands who come to Wellsville to spend a weekend.

For those who have registered by mail, this is important:

“To all of you who have registered by mail. You will not receive a response in the mail. Please pickup your badge and any tickets that you purchased at Derby HQs at Island Park starting at noon on Friday. We will be open until around 8PM. We will also be open during all fishing hours during the weekend. Please read the rules!”

It has been two years since the “derby,” so let’s revisit just how this event works:  The Wellsville Lions Club purchases 450 of trout from a hatchery, all pre-tagged with an identifier on the dorsal fin.  Local business and private supporters sponsor each fish for various dollar amounts, if the fish is caught, they must pay the winnings.  If the fish isn’t caught, they sponsor gets lucky and need not pay!  Just before the event begins, club members release the trout into the Genesee River in very secret ceremony.

Anglers have traditionally flocked to Island Park and other local campgrounds to spend a few days on the banks of the Genesee, enjoying themselves and hoping to catch one of the “big fish.”  In this derby the ultimate lucky cast could being a thousand dollar fish. This year the event promises a possible payout of $25,000 which means that the average fish is worth over fifty-five dollars. Also very important to note the changes in the derby limits this year as depicted in this map. Roughly, the limits are just south of the Jack Bridge Road in Willing and on northward to the Wellsville Country Club bridge.

John Tucker, a local angler with decades of experience on the Genesee River has some advice and a few photos to share of this years successes.

Tucker last week on the Genny

“The weather looks pretty good for the Trout Derby weekend. The water lever should be normal and fairly clear. The experienced fishermen and women will be using their ‘go to’ equipment be if spin casting or fly fishing gear. Natural or artificial bait will be called for. I’m a salted minnow kind of guy but have had luck with a fat night crawler if used early in the morning. Umpteen different artificial lures are available from spinners, spoons to plugs. I’ve had good luck with a small silver and blue Rapalla. Silver or gold Mepp spinners with a red rooster tail also may prove effective. This is usually approached as a social event. I remember one year I took my very young son and daughter and we camped out at Island Park. It was subfreezing that Saturday night. In the morning I had both kids in my sleeping bag. A partially empty can of soda was frozen solid! Although we didn’t catch a ‘tagged fish’, we had an enjoyable time!”

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