Highlands fish derby goes digital

By Darren Lum

Published Aug. 1 2017

Using software to enable competitors to upload photos of their catch online the Big Fish Derby Haliburton Highlands competition is being regarded as unique in the county.
This two-month catch photograph and release derby does not have the typical weigh-in and competitors are not restricted to any one lake or day. Competitors are free to go to any lake or body of water to fish (for a weekend or more depending on what pass is purchased) during August and September. When a fish is caught the competitor must take a photo of the fish with a tape measure and upload the photograph to a pre-registered online profile at bigfishderby.ca. Registration starts at $15 for a weekend pass. There is more than $5000 in cash and prizes at stake and includes four species categories including muskie largemouth and smallmouth bass walleye and pan fish.
This is a joint venture with the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championship and the Amazing Agency which was busy with setting up the online collection point for submitted images.

Owner of CNPHC and event organizer John Teljeur said this event is open to everyone whether they are up for the weekend the summer or year-round.
“We wanted to create an event that is open to anyone that calls the area home even if it’s home for just a weekend” he said in a press release. “It was also important that we made it as easy as possible for people to participate and not stress any particular lake. That’s why all the lakes in the county are included.”
The competition is from August to Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m. Teljeur said top prize for the biggest fish is $500 and there are also random cash and prize draws available each month. The grand prize winners will be announced on the radio in October.
The idea for the derby came years ago.
Getting introduced to new sponsors through his new business venture CNPHC has made this event possible.
In a survey 72 per cent of the players from the hockey tournament said they would return to the area another time of the year.
“If we’re going to invest in the pond hockey event with a sound system and other equipment like this it would be great if we could use it for more than a couple weekends” he said. “That’s what got us thinking about what else we could be doing. We came up with a couple of different events. This is one of the first ones.”
The same CNPHC tournament survey also indicated that golf and fishing were at the top of the list for activities to return here. This event is to draw those hockey players back but it also serves to broaden the reach for Teljeur’s company.

He said this event is part of CNPHC’s plan to offer more events such as a music festival next year.
The relationship with Amazing Agency which Teljeur calls experts on the web digital technology and tourism promotion made this kind of event possible.
Initially it had been planned for 2018 but the benefits of what they could learn now by running it was too great to pass up particularly since there is every intention to do it again.
A portion of the proceeds raised from the event will be given to the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association and used to support its fish stocking programs.

Teljeur an avid angler who served on the HHOA board in the past knows the importance of the HHOA to the health of the lakes and the community.
“The community as a whole should rally behind them because without that fishery program a lot of those fingerlings that go into the lake every year – a few thousand – they may not happen going forward if that program folds.
“As a tourism person fishing is such an inclusive sport and low entry thing for families. I remember my experience as a kid. I’d hate to see that not necessarily go away but be less than it should be. This event was not only designed to raise some funds for the fish hatchery but it was also to help the profile of fishing as a resource in the Haliburton Highlands” he said.