“Love seeing their smiles”, says Naotkamegwanning fishing derby organizer dedicated to memorializing local resident

By: Damon Hunter

The 15th annual Whitefish Bay Fall Bass Classic was held on Oct. 6th-7th, this year in memory of the late Angela White — who sadly passed away from cancer last year.

Alana Merrick, a co-organizer of the annual fishing derby with the late White, says she has dedicated the next four years’ events in her memory.

“Angela was one of our lead organizers,” she said. “She was an avid fisherwoman”.

Angela, born in Dryden, Ontario and raised in Naotkamegwanning First Nation, was known for her work in the community including co-organizing a drug awareness walk and the Seven Grandfathers awards.

With coverage from 89.5 The Lake radio, the event attracted a large amount of participants and sponsors, including a donation from RBC Royal Bank to help fund the competition. Participants came from Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and even Minnesota, USA.

The yearly event is completely non-profit, Merrick said, and the money made off of it is recycled for the next year’s event.

“Every cent goes to the tournament,” said Merrick. “Then we start all over again.”

Merrick said it makes her feel good hosting the event as a space for men and women of all ages and to observe the different bass species. She said the biggest unrecorded bass was 7lbs 10oz.

I love seeing their smiles and seeing their excitement.”

This year’s winners were Toowaas White and Damien Paypompee. They took first place with the heaviest catches consisting of nine smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass.

In second place, Erick Bennett and Jim Ducharme. Following in third, Dana Fast and Mike Miles.

1st PlaceToowass White:Damien Paypompee
This year’s winners, Toowaas White and Damien Paypompee (Photo credit: Keith Merrick)

Toowas White from Naotkamegwanning, says he has been attending the Bass Classic for 14 years and won second place in 2011 with his father-in-law.

Keith Merrick
Winners trophies (Photo credit: Keith Merrick)

Having spent much time with Angela and her family fishing, said the tournament’s dedication was deserved, considering her a “ staple at the docks and at the weigh-ins.”

“Our community had three great male/female teams compete year in and year out,” he said.”  Her passing had an affect on all the fishermen in the community”

Next year’s Fall Bass Classic is to be expected again early October.

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