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Arviat preps for fishing derby

Arviat fishers will start looking for the big ones on May 12, trying to match the skills of 2016 Pike and Trout Fishing Derby winners, from left, Lakeisha Flynn (1st place trout), Janet Ishalook (2nd pike), Joy Suluk (2nd trout), Pierre Ikakhik (3rd pike), Daniel Kablutsiak (3rd trout) and Norma-Jean Kablutsiak (1st pike). - NNSL file photo

The excitement is building for what many regard as the most popular community event of the year in Arviat.

The 2017 Pike and Trout Fishing Derby is set to go from May 12-14, with measuring to take place on May 15.

The committee looking after the event, Ryan St. John, Gleason Uppahuak, Dorothy St. John and Chris Mikeeuneak, will be kept busy almost until the first hook hits the water.

“We'll be using the same rules this year, with a 100-mile limit from town,” said Uppahuak, adding that the limits keep the derby safe and fair for everyone. “This is one of our biggest events, and there's always a great atmosphere surrounding it because winter is finally over and now it's time to go out and have fun.”

The derby is usually held on the long weekend in May, but the dates can change to accommodate weather.

Uppahuak said Arviat didn't really get much snow this year, so the committee decided to hold the derby earlier in the month.

“Some people might not like the earlier date due to having to use an annual day at work, but mostly everyone's OK with the change,” said Uppahuak.

Uppahuak said the prize money can vary year to year, depending on the success of the committee's annual fundraising efforts. The cash prizes are funded by bingo events as well as the $50 per household registration for the derby. The final numbers will be worked out this week.

The committee ran two bingo fundraisers this year, and Uppahuak said they are waiting until after the final bingo event to determine how many and how big the cash prizes will be.

Uppahuak said the community expects the derby to have solid cash prizes.

He said everyone gives it their best to land a fish big enough to claim a prize, and, with cash up for grabs, the derby is always going to be competitive.

“Of course, when you're talking about thousands of dollars, people are trying hard to win, but many in the community never lose sight of what the derby is really all about, and that's families greeting spring by having a lot of fun together,” he said. “It's always been about 50-50 between prize money and family time. Anyone can understand people concentrating on their fishing and trying really hard to win that much cash, but just as many people put family time first and, if they happen to win a prize, bonus.”